Helping Children at Christmas

December 1, 2016

One of Galilee’s great holiday traditions is the Mission Tree in our lobby. This year, as in years past, we’re using the tree to support three great missions that help children.

All you need to do is take an ornament off the tree and follow the instructions to aid one, two, or three of the following projects:

 

The Child Rescue Center and Mercy Hospital in Sierra Leone

Galilee is a charter church of the Child Rescue Center, one of twelve congregations who helped found the CRC and Mercy Hospital in Sierra Leone. Our congregation has given hundreds of thousands of dollars over fourteen years in order to save lives in a country wracked by civil war and disease and to provide children with a good education, while demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ. This in a city that is equal parts Christian and Muslim.

Pastor Jason was a supporter of the CRC even before he came to Galilee. “I’ve been lucky to work in conjunction with Helping Children Worldwide, which coordinates aid to the CRC and Mercy Hospital,” explains Jason. “The more I work with these generous people, the more I am moved by their success in an impoverished country. I met with their staff recently to review the scope of their programs. I was invited to give my input to their plans. God is great, because they plan on expansion. For example Mercy Hospital, which sees 10,000 patients a year, broke ground on a surgical center—the first for Mercy and the only one in the region.”

Galilee Pastor Jason Duley with Cynthia Grant, African Programs Administrator at Helping Children Worldwide

Methodists, including Galilee, have been on the ground in Sierra Leone—improving the health of the whole community. Our people and our donations have helped reduce mother and infant mortality rate. Most recently, Galilee’s choir director Jordan Markwood visited the CRC this summer. We’re hoping to send more missioners on a combined team in 2017.

 

Backpack Buddies

This fall, Galilee’s Backpack Buddies mission, which has been providing up to 350 students a week with meals, stretched itself by taking on a new partner school, Rolling Ridge Elementary.

“We are supplying meals to food-insecure children locally,” says Pastor Jason.  “Children learn better when they are better fed. But for me, the best thing about Backpack Buddies is building partnerships with local schools, strengthening relationships between our congregation and the community.”

“A new school opens new doors for our mission of making Christ known. Having Rolling Ridge on board is fantastic, because this new school has interest in partnering with us on projects other than nutrition, like a reading program for ESL children.”

“Local schools help the church realize that we are “beyond the walls” kind of people. God calls us to go beyond ourselves. Public schools see our actions, which let both them and their families know that they are not alone in the challenge of meeting children’s needs.”

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Mission Tree sponsorships go to buying bulk food, like shelf-stable milk.

Backpack Buddies estimates that they have the resources to serve 455 students on a regular basis. Your donations and sponsorships (through taking an ornament off Galilee’s Mission Tree) will help with this goal. Sponsorships are particularly important, because they provide cash which can be used to buy bulk food. This greatly supplements in-kind donations.

 

Kingsway Prison and Family Outreach

Kingsway Prison and Family Outreach was founded by Louise Jennings and her husband, Shelton, in 1977 as a service ministry reaching out to inmates, ex-offenders, and their families. Kingsway volunteers regularly lead Bible studies and conduct worship services in Virginia correctional facilities. They minister to the physical and spiritual needs of the families of those incarcerated. Kingsway’s office in Harrisonburg is a safe haven for released inmates to come to for help. It is this office that is turned into a second North Pole when Kingsway’s Apple Tree Project kicks into gear.

The Apple Tree Project is a holiday mission to make sure that the children of Virginia prisoners know that they are loved at Christmas.

Volunteers at Kingsway in Harrisonburg send two gifts and a Bible or Christian storybook to each child.

“Children of incarcerated parents struggle in the absence of that parent and with the pain of short visits. They struggle with the stigma of it,” Pastor Jason says. “Showing them love is such a privilege; letting them know that God is with them and with their parent. After all, many of our Bible heroes went to jail. Christians should remember that Christ has come to “set the prisoner free.” At the very least, showing love can help “free” the children of the alienation and isolation associated with loved ones behind bars, especially at Christmas.”

Pastor Jason visiting a prisoner at the Loudoun County Adult Detention Center earlier this year.

Gifts and donations for the Apple Tree project are due back on Sunday, December 4. Galilee member and JMU student Mary Kate Appel has already delivered one car load of presents to Kingsway, so make sure to get your gifts in soon!

Thank you for taking an ornament from Galilee’s Mission Tree, and for all the ways that you show your love to children. Merry Christmas!