We want so give a huge THANK YOU to all who donated of their time and resources to make the Guilford Elementary School’s Community Thanksgiving Dinner a huge success. Our congregation donated over 90 pies and 1000 servings of stuffing. We also had 12 volunteers who helped serve the families by pouring drinks and carrying trays for moms with lots of small children. This was the largest Thanksgiving Dinner that Guilford has hosted to date, with over 900 people enjoying traditional North American Thanksgiving foods, many for the first time. Parents who often don’t have the resources to feed their families an abundant meal like this were truly grateful. We are thankful for you, our generous congregation and our faithful God who allows us to serve these families and staff at Guilford Elementary.
There were over 100 people lined up and waiting in the rain when we opened the doors last Saturday morning, and within the first hour we had given away more than 300 bags of clothing. (The photo above is after we opened the doors – the photo below is literally one hour later.)
We saw specific needs met over and over. Thanks to the generosity of our people, along with serving our body, and the local community, we were able to send clothing to missionaries in Japan and Ethiopia, and to a Christian rehab center here in Virginia. There were about 30 bags of clothing left at the end of the event, which went to SACS, the thrift store we partner with.
When children come into foster care, they are often removed from their homes in an emotional and chaotic scene.
Their biological families pack their belongings in whatever bags they may have handy, including garbage bags. Sometimes, families don’t have any large bags to give children to carry their things, as many of these children come from low income families. Many times children come into foster care with nothing that first night. To have a bag of their own, filled with items that are just for them as they enter a world that is not their own, can offer a small but powerful comfort.
This was the challenge that we presented to our body back in January. Let us be the hands and feet of Christ by providing shiny new duffel bags filled with the necessities that a child whose world has just been turned upside down would need, plus some extra goodies so they would feel valued and loved. We can’t measure the effect that holding a teddy bear that will be theirs to keep would have on a child that first night away from the only home they have every known.
We are grateful to God that our people are a generous people and embraced this opportunity to love a child they will probably never meet. We had over 200 bags donated, which filled two 15-passenger vans. The bags will be distributed to several local foster care agencies and will meet a tremendous need.
Two years ago, it snowed for Trunk-or-Treat, forcing our event indoors. Last year, Hurricane Sandy (also known as “Frankenstorm”) shut us down completely. This year, we trusted the weather would cooperate. While it was challenging to set up with the crazy wind, we tied, taped and bungeed everything down and were ready to go by 6:00pm last Thursday evening. Finally the winds blissfully died down… only for it to begin to rain.
Many thanks to all who didn’t let being slightly damp put a damper on the evening. We had 32 spots filled with decorations, games, and wonderful people in costumes giving out candy to the hundreds of children who came out to trick-or-treat with us. I have to admit, I had my doubts about how many people would venture out on a windy and rainy night with their kids in costumes – but as usual, the Lord showed me what a waste of time worrying is. Lots and lots of kids and parents dressed in costumes and ready to spend a safe, fun-filled evening with their family arrived in spite of the off-and-on rain. After playing games and trick-or-treating, the children were treated to hay rides, candied apples and popcorn, and fun Halloween crafts. Several hundred of our surrounding neighbors and friends from Guilford came out for the fun.
Our parking “spots” were amazingly creative with Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Hatter, Captain America and the Avengers, Batman, aliens, the Pumpkinmobile, a photo booth, and Duck Dynasty – just to name a few.
A HUGE THANKS to everyone that helped – set up, clean up, food, crafts, hayrides and of course the parking spots. It takes a lot of help to put on an event like this, and we couldn’t do it without our wonderful volunteers. I think it’s safe to say that everyone went home “Happy, happy, happy!”
Thank you to all who donated items, picked up furniture, sorted and priced, and worked the day of our recent Community Yard Sale. We raised over $6500 to put into our Community Ministries – but even more importantly, we saw God meet specific needs in the body.
In spite of the rain, we had a great turnout and people were blessed to be able to purchase clothing and household items for their families at very affordable prices. I was able to help one woman choose Christmas presents for her extended family – things that were beautiful and special but that she would not have been able to afford to buy from stores. We watched as a young family purchased furniture that they desperately needed, plus a few toys for their young children. One woman bought armfuls of clothing to send back to her homeland, where even after she pays the shipping costs the clothes were still less expensive than if her family members bought them in their country.
It was a lot of work, but the Lord used it for His glory and to further His kingdom. Thank you to all who played a part in making this event happen.
The mission of our partnership with Guilford Elementary School in Sterling, VA is to help meet the physical, relational and spiritual needs of the disadvantaged through service and generosity, and to encourage the staff who work with these families.
In this short video, David Stewart, principal of Guilford Elementary, shares about the impact of this partnership from his perspective.
For more information on our partnership and how to get involved, please visit www.restonbible.org/guilford.
I want to share some astonishing numbers with you. And I want to share what the Lord has done in one year of our Community Outreach ministry. Through the sacrificial giving of time, talents and finances of the body here at RBC, amazing things have been accomplished by the grace of our Lord. This is mostly facts and numbers, and doesn’t adequately represent the many lives that have been changed through this ministry – one of which is my own. However, I hope that it will at least show some of the many areas that we have been able to make a difference for our neighbors.
From September 2011 – July 2012, RBC has received over $135,000 in donations towards Community Outreach. Of that approximately $61,000 was designated for the food pantry, and $18,000 was designated for Guilford Elementary, the rest was undesignated. We have spent approx. $90,000 of what has come in. That means a couple of things – we have funds as we move forward, and it means that the giving for this ministry has sustained. RBC has shown we want to reach the community for Jesus Christ.
So, let me share some of what the Lord has accomplished through you this year and share a little about our upcoming plans.
What do you get when you take 80 bakers, 50 coffee servers, 25 ushers, countless food preparers, children’s ministry volunteers, prayer warriors, 2 backstage crew, 38 actors, 7 band members, sound, lights and media volunteers, a director and 3 people willing to be transparent and share about the struggles in their lives and the victory they have found in trusting Christ with their circumstances? Conversations, that’s what you get! Conversations is an annual production including music, drama, humor and real life stories that takes place each evening the week before Easter. It is week where our church comes together to share with our families, friends, co-workers and neighbors the hope that we have in Jesus. This is real hope – hope not based on circumstances or happily-ever-afters, but on the truth of the word of God and His son, Jesus Christ.
Working behind the scenes, we have the privilege of seeing God at work during the entire process of putting Conversations together. The ministry that takes place among the cast and crew is amazing. People of all ages come together to do ministry, connections are made, prayers are answered, and we are each changed through our experience.
Hundreds of hours go into putting on a production like this – writing, rehearsing, building sets, designing graphics and coordinating all the many, many details. But even the most impressive production is worthless if the congregation doesn’t get behind it and do the most important part – invite and bring their unchurched friends and family. We named this event Conversations for two reasons. The music and scenes are based on conversations that go on around us all the time, and our hope is that you would continue to have conversations with the people you brought to see it.
If you have had a memorable conversation with one of your guests since bringing them to Conversations, we would love to praise with you and pray for you. To share a conversation or story that happened as a result of Conversations, please email us at email@example.com.
Thanks to RBCer Mike Kelly for the great photos. You can see his Conversations 2012 photo gallery here.
Also, since so many of you asked so nicely, below is The Elevator Scene:
We are excited to share an update on the Food Pantry ministry. After barely four months of operation, we have grown to serving over 250 families a week. These are families from within our body, from Guilford Elementary, from our surrounding community and beyond. We have approximately 30 volunteers faithfully serving our neighbors each week. Because of your continued generosity, we have been able to work out some purchasing agreements with a few local stores that help us to have enough of the items that are heavily requested available to those who need them.
It can be so easy to read about the Food Pantry or hear an occasional update but forget that this is a ministry to actual people. This story was recently shared by one of our Food Pantry volunteers:
It was toward the end of the Food Pantry time, and just one table of waiting people was left. An older lady, with torn and worn-out clothes, matted hair and no teeth, was having trouble filling out her form, so I sat down to help her to get through it. She began trying to tell me something and grabbed my arm while repeating the same indiscernible sentence. Since she had no teeth, I couldn’t even tell if she was speaking in English or Spanish. Perhaps seeing my confusion, she began to use gestures with the words to get her point across. She was pointing up at first and saying “God” and then touched her eye and then her mouth to indicate smiling. As I repeated the words she was trying to say, we got through the sentence, “God is watching us all at the Food Pantry and is smiling down from Heaven at what He sees as we feed the hungry.” Tears filled my eyes as I realized what she was saying, and the lady and I hugged as tears streamed down my face.
In the midst of all the confusion and busyness of serving over 130 families that day in the Pantry, this poor old lady’s words were a real high point and it seemed that the Lord was confirming his pleasure with this ministry.
Let me take this opportunity to once again thank you all for your faithful giving. If you would like to give monetarily to support the Food Pantry, you can do so online (click here to access online giving. When you get to screen where you enter an amount, be sure to select “Food Pantry” from the “to” drop-down menu.) You can also leave a check in an offering box (located in the lobby or at the rear of the sanctuary) with “Food Pantry” in the memo line.
If you would like to donate items to the Food Pantry, drop-off baskets are located in the foyer at the front entrance of RBC. Here is a “most wanted” list of items we need for the Food Pantry (click here to download).
If you would like to serve during the Food Pantry (open Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings), please email me. We have an ongoing need particularly for volunteers with Spanish language skills.
Please continue to pray for us as we show the love of Christ through this ministry.
Thanks to all who participated in the Guilford Elementary’s 3rd Annual Thanksgiving Dinner last Monday, November. Whether you came and served, donated pies, or cooked turkeys, all of your efforts resulted in a fun family gathering as the Guilford families enjoyed a good ol’ American Thanksgiving dinner.
This was a real community gathering, with several organizations helping out. Teachers from the school, RBCers, and Little League volunteers all worked side by side to bless these families. For many of the families, this was their first taste of stuffing, which we learned has no Spanish word equivalent since it is not a food they eat in their countries. Maybe it’s a universal thing, but it appears that most kids don’t like stuffing. Also universal is the look of dislike and the shake of the head “no” – but all were polite and said “no thank you” if they didn’t care for any (although their faces were priceless!)
Hundreds of people came out for the dinner. The rain and long walk from where they parked on the ball field didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits. Even though the line of people waiting for their turn for food wrapped around the building hallways, everyone was patient and excited for the feast to come. It reminded me of what the disciples must have felt like with the loaves and the fishes, for as many people as kept coming, there seemed to be more food as the evening progressed. And after all had been fed, the volunteers, at last, took a few minutes to sit down, rest and have some dinner as well.
Due to the abundance, the residents at the Embry Rucker Homeless Shelter in Reston also enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast.
Many thanks for all who helped to bless our neighbors.
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“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
– Matthew 35:34-40