Published January 1, 2009
DACULA — The music ministry of Hebron Baptist Church in Dacula presented a Christmas musical for years, but in 2007 they broke tradition and dared to do something different. They had what they called “Christmas on the Corner,” a three-night festival that included a live nativity, caroling, marshmallow roasting, community chorus tent where some of the local schools allowed their choruses to sing, a train, and a myriad of other venues to celebrate the season.
Kevin Miller, Hebron’s executive pastor, stated, “Christmas on the Corner was a great event for our church and very successful.”
In early 2008 the Hebron church staff began to meet to plan for the second annual Christmas on the Corner, but as they prayed God seemed to move them in a different direction. They felt they needed to have activities that would not only draw the community to the church, but thrust the church out into the community. As the staff prayed and planned Gift of Hope was born.
When the staff shared their ideas with Senior Pastor Larry Wynn they discovered that God had already been at work in his heart and convicting him about the direction they were proposing. So, after an amazingly successful event the previous year, the staff decided to change directions for Christmas 2008.
Miller remarked, “All too often those of us in ministry fall into the trap that if something worked one time we should do it again; and so we often find ourselves on autopilot with events and never take the time to seek God’s direction. But this time we prayed and God gave us a new direction. We were convicted of the church’s mandate to serve and love others. We searched the scriptures and began to look at the different groups of people the church was commanded to take care of and we started there.”
Miller explained, “The pastor stood at the pulpit one Sunday morning and hailed the success of Christmas on the Corner in 2007. He announced that 10,000 people had visited the church campus for the three-night festival. He spoke positively of the large number of people who had volunteered and commended the church for the sense of community the festival had created between the church and the community.”
Then Wynn stated, “It was so successful last year that we are not going to do it this year.”
Miller added, “Brother Larry shared a little bit about the potential of Gift of Hope, but I am not sure the people got too enthused at first. However, the people really got on board and their enthusiasm grew immeasurably as they have gotten involved. Last year we had about 800 volunteers participating in Christmas on the Corner, but this year we had more than 1,500 involved in Gift of Hope.”
The church staff initially identified 35 projects in which they would engage their people, but that number grew substantially as more and more people became involved and more needs were identified. The church engaged in acts of kindness in ten schools in the community. They delivered cookies to fire departments, police departments, and local retail shops.
Church members helped with minor remodeling projects, assisted the NICU in local hospitals, and helped at Eagle Ranch Children’s Home in Braselton. The church helped more than 4,000 children with the Hebron Wish Fund. During Gift of Hope the church stocked their food pantry and assisted other food pantries in the area.
Miller concluded, “Our goal in this effort has been to get our people at Hebron to love God by loving others. This effort opened many doors of opportunity to point people to Jesus as the Hope of the World. Our prayer is this will happen all year long and become a major part of who Hebron is in the community.”
One night a group of college students were meeting at the church for a Christmas party. They had brought gifts to exchange (mostly gift cards), but when the pizza man came to deliver the pizza, the students decided to give him the gifts they had brought to exchange to one another. The deliveryman, a total stranger, was stunned and obviously blessed by the unexpected generosity.
Miller said, “This is an illustration of how our people are beginning to think.”
How are your people thinking?
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