I will remember 2017 as a year where the fruits of the labor of many remarkable people, businesses and churches blossomed into a beautiful picture of God’s promises and the hope that we are able to provide one more child.
When Hurricane Irma ripped through our state with devastating force, we covered children and families with protection. We evacuated the majority of our residential campuses to move children to safer facilities, and before the rain stopped, we were already helping foster parents and Single Moms by providing essential needs through Child Hunger ministries.
The morning after the worst part of the storm had passed, a young girl walked up to me, with a face laden with powdered sugar and an unforgettable smile. She looked up and said, “Life is good! We have donuts!”
Just a few days later, I looked out across the campus of our international headquarters, trees strewn across the landscape, days of work to be accomplished, and I smiled at the sight of more than 60 volunteers with rakes, chainsaws and leaf blowers. I saw the sweaty foreheads and authentic smiles of those wonderful people, and not only did I know everything would be OK, I rejoiced!
Earlier this year, on a visit to Genesis Primary School in Uganda, a campus where many children we support through our Global ministry of One More Child are educated, I experienced something similar. As I walked up to the school, a transformative addition quickly came into focus: a community dining hall. It wasn’t that long ago we were just excited to be able to provide the children nutritious porridge prepared in massive steel pots over outdoor fire pits, and now we have a fully-equipped, sanitary kitchen and a space to serve meals to more than 400 community members at one time. I think about the provision God has provided and I rejoice!
I also rejoice when I think about my wife, Christi, and her lifelong commitment to serve children. I smile when I think about my amazing wife joyfully and lovingly baking her delicious cookies with children!
I also remember not long ago praying with staff at our campus in Jacksonville, “Lord, help us to help the students at the school across the street.” We began providing children food in backpacks to take home on the weekends, working to establish relationships with staff at the school and families in the community. It started with us pouring into the lives of a few dozen children the best we could with the resources we had.
God honored that humble prayer by showcasing just how desperately He wanted to use us to bless more children and families. That prayer initiated a backpack program that eventually was duplicated around the state, and it was ultimately the catalyst for the creation of Child Hunger ministries.
”Through this ministry we are on track to provide more than 5 million meals to hungry children and families this year, including approximately 110,000 through our backpack program. For that, I rejoice!
Rejoicing is an active declaration of God’s goodness, no matter how difficult the journey.
I think of the tough, sometimes agonizing expedition the Israelites went on before being delivered to the Promised Land. Yet over and over in the book of Exodus, the term “rejoice” is used to demonstrate the gladness and joy of those people who had experienced God’s hand of favor.
This Christmas season, we rejoice because out of the darkness and from the humblest of beginnings, our Savior was born to save every single one of us. And I want to encourage you to rejoice in all that God has done through your faithfulness to Florida Baptist Children’s Homes and One More Child. Rejoice that children are being served life-changing meals; rejoice that girls who were once victimized in the sex trafficking trade were rescued; rejoice that you are part of an active body of believers making an eternal difference for children and families.
Whenever you selflessly ask the question “What can I do?” to help one more child, rejoice that God uses your “yes” to do more good than you could ever plan. Because of your commitment and because of God’s goodness, I rejoice.