MAY I SPEAK LIFE OVER YOU?
Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. James 1:27
As a Kingdom Warrior, I declare an overwhelming presence of God when you serve the poor.
Today we will wrap up our 2-year All-IN Campaign, taking a special offering to complete the financial commitments we made two years ago and to invest in several initiatives for the coming 12 months.
What we do here in church is practice for what we do out in the community.
One of these is Toys for Joy, an event celebrating its 22nd year.
We are called by God to be the hands and feet of Jesus. What we do here in church is practice for what we do out in the community. May God open your eyes to the opportunities He is giving you and may you respond confidently, bringing life everywhere you go.
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” Matthew 25:31-40
The ALL IN Heart sees the face of Jesus in the face of the poor and views serving them as an act of worship.
Holy Spirit, reveal the face of Jesus in the faces of our city’s poor.
When we see people in need, we need to see Jesus and we need to see the opportunity to be Jesus to them. Ask God, “How do you want to use me to meet needs for people in need?”.
Pastor Debbie Smith
Before the Rock Church was founded, Pastor Debbie served on a team of people who started started a non-profit ministry to gang members. At the time, she was dating an El Cajon police officer, who would arrest kids for various offenses, and then the team would visit the kids at juvenile hall on Friday night and hold Bible study. The ministry was a chance to let these kids know that even though they had made mistake, they were not worthless. Then the team met Pastor Miles and they asked him to come and share his testimony. Three of these former gang members are now pastors!
At the time, Miles Ahead Ministries was bringing crusades to urban youth to share the gospel. But there was a need to reach these youth in the off-season as well, so that is how Toys for Joy began, and Debbie was involved from the beginning. She is now on staff with the church and oversees our outreach ministries.
Toys for Joy has now spread to 4 locations throughout the county. People come in droves to hear the gospel, receive food, select free clothing, choose a toy for each child, and receive a bag of groceries for their family.
Lillie McMillan, Principal at Porter Elementary School
Lillie was approached ten years ago with an offer to bring Toys for Joy to her low-income school community, and she graciously accepted. Her school programs serve over 1,000 students, so every day she sees the need that her families have. Over the years, it has now become a highly anticipated event. The school community is very poor and underprivileged, but they have some very proud people who just don’t have the money to be able to give, so the parents in the community are often even more excited for the event than the kids are. Believe it or not, many of them are excited for the worship part of the event because they crave that communion and the receiving of the Word of God.
Lillie herself looks forward to Toys for Joy every year and shows up to serve in the trenches because she believes that it is better to give than to receive and that they are all doing the work of God. She encouraged us as a church family to come out to serve that the event and to bring your children to serve alongside you to teach them how to give and how to be generous.
Geniese Ligon, Dean of Students at Jonas Salk Elementary
The anticipation of Toys for Joy builds like the expectation of going to Disneyland. Their families know that Toys for Joy is on the way, so hope, love, encouragement, and graciousness is just around the bend.
Geniese shared a couple of touching stories from events of the past. One student had been encouraged to “dress for success,” but his pants were tattered and worn. When he came to Toys for Joy, he said that he didn’t want a you, just a brand new pair of pants. He was thrilled to go to the boutique and pick out some new clothing. When he came in the following week, he said, “This looks GOOD on me, doesn’t it?!”
Another year, a woman was waiting on the field as the team was packing up the leftover hot dogs and chips and breaking down for the night. She asked if she might have the leftovers, as it would feed her whole family for two weeks. So the team agreed and loaded everything into her car. It may be just a hot dog to those who have, but to those who have not, it may sustain their very existence.
As we prepare to give financially today and we plan to bring in the 20,000 toys that are needed, Pastor Miles shared some statistics regarding last year’s Toys for Joy event:
- Event sites: 4 (San Marcos High School, El Cajon Valley High School, Lincoln High School, Southwest High School)
- Total guests: 22,213
- Team members serving: 4,494
- Gospel response: 3,803
- People receiving prayer: 3,440
- Toys collected: 25,410
- Bags of groceries given away: 12,000
- Articles of clothing given away: 312,500
- Manicures given: 1,052
- Haircuts given: 490
- Sponsor partners: 86
- Estimated value of giveaways: $1.8 mil
Pastor Debbie encouraged us all to participate, as Toys for Joy can only happen with the generosity and service of the church. Toys for Joy’s tagline is, “It’s more than a toy,” and was founded on Matthew 6:33: But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. From Day 1, this outreach event has been about the free gift of Jesus, and we are honored to live that legacy. They need to collect an additional 20,000 toys and they are looking for in-kind donations (water, etc.) to give away to the families they serve. If you own a business or know someone whose business may like to participate, text the word TOYS to 52525 and the team will contact you.
As Pastor Miles closed with our special offering, he shared that our Kingdom Builders donors have already lead today’s offering with $400,000. How are you being called to give and serve? May everything you do be in the name of Jesus Christ and by the prompting of the Holy Spirit!