By Cristiane Lima with Dave Franco
A first timer to Toys for Joy confirms that “it’s not just a toy” but a chance to implant God’s love.
I walked the Toys for Joy event for the first time and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. A giant gym-full of toys, floor to ceiling, dazzled the eye. Kids with a toy in each hand and bellies full of food, ran around like the wind-up cars. Moms and dads with groceries, clothes, and big, beautiful broad-as-their face smiles hugged people they didn’t know. People were giving haircuts. Groups were doing Gospel presentations.
And my eyes nearly fell out of my head.
I had been attending the Rock for a year or so, had heard about Toys for Joy and thought I would offer my time to what I anticipated would be a fun event. But like the first man to push off into the open sea hoping to find the other end, I never expected this.
It reminded me of Jesus in Luke 5, when He decided to fill Peter’s nets with fish. Jesus just doesn’t give them a lot of fish, but nearly sinks two boats with the catch. Jesus blesses lavishly.
Jesus blesses lavishly.
Right there in front of me was an event so full of generous, gracious over-giving, I couldn’t help but make the connection. Jesus, through His people, was heaping it on.
The experience will stay with these kids and parents for a lifetime; I know this to be true. How?
Growing up in Brazil, we lived the most basic of lives. As working class Brazilians, we had no frills whatsoever. If you had food on the table and clothes on your back, that is about all you, or anybody, could expect.
But one Christmas, the military invited some of the community to the base for a Christmas celebration and gave all of us kids from meager homes a toy amid Christmas decorations. I was so taken by the experience that I never forgot it. The generosity is emblazoned in my mind forever. How much more will the Toys for Joy experience affect these kids?
That is why in the years since, my husband and I have given financially to Toys for Joy, increasing the amount each year. I just have to be a part of something that brings so much joy to so many. If families will camp out all night on the streets to receive gifts from a church representing Jesus’ love, then obviously God is at work changing lives. I don’t want to be left out of something like that.
To learn more about Toys for Joy, click here.