A StreetWise Christmas

If we threw Jesus a birthday party, what do you think He would ask for? Our fully sufficient Creator, the One who wants for nothing, the Well that never runs dry would likely ask for the very same thing that He has asked for from the start — people who know His love and respond with love for Him. At this year’s Birthday Party for Jesus, we believe that is exactly what He received.

Each Christmas is a little bit different, but this one was slightly more unusual than usual. After much prayer and consideration, we finally decided to host the Birthday Party at two separate locations in Lawrenceville and Auburn. With more modest venues than have been used in years prior, we had to make some necessary adjustments in order to accommodate the limited space. Our clothing room became our program room, our counseling offices became a center for gift distribution, and our lobby doubled as a food pantry and prayer room. Even a few of our administrative offices were transformed into storage space! But the Lord is so creative; for every challenge we faced, we were given a solution which suited our needs and exceeded our expectations.

As always, we were blessed by incredible and incredibly talented Volunteers, vessels of His Holy Spirit and carriers of His presence. Servant hearts throughout Gwinnett and Barrow united to bless their neighbors in any way deemed necessary. Happy to welcome guests, wrap gifts, pass out presents and load vehicles, their genuine joy was tangible. It impacted our environment with light and altered the atmosphere, letting everyone know that the Birthday Party for Jesus was anything but your average service project — it was a labor of love, given freely from the overflow of God’s love for us.

The effectiveness of each and every effort could be seen on the faces of our Clients and heard in their words. It was almost overwhelming to see beaming children, one arm holding a precarious pile of presents and the other trying to hug Volunteers. Each person’s powerful expression of gratitude let us know that they had received much more than a few toys; many families left knowing that they were genuinely cared for, by God and by His people. After visiting with our prayer counselors, one boy commented that he had received two presents for Christmas — a wrapped gift and Jesus.

Children are perceptive. They can comprehend the mood of a room in a matter of moments, and they can easily perceive the demeanor of those they interact with. Children are also sensitive. The knowledge that they are loved is vital, valuable and indispensable to everything that they are and can become. When they visited StreetWise last Saturday, when they heard the message of Christ’s love, got their gifts and saw the smiles of our volunteers, they left smiling too. Over 200 children received beautiful packages and heard the Good News of God’s love that day.

We could never do enough for Jesus. As the old hymn says, “To write the love of God above would drain the oceans dry, nor could the scroll contain the whole when stretched from sky to sky.” Still, the expressions of compassion, the preaching of the gospel and the resulting eight salvations were a great way to wish Jesus a very happy birthday. To everyone who pitched in, thank you for being part of our StreetWise family. Have a blessed and merry Christmas. We look forward to seeing how the Lord will carry us and continue knitting us together as a community in 2016.