No, I have not been to┬áBethlehem. When I say that I visited “The Manger“, I am actually referring to an incredibly ministry opportunity that Journey Church is supporting this week in Columbus, Ohio. My family and I found ourselves with a free evening (which NEVER happens) so we made our way over to “The Manger” to offer our assistance. Friends, this was a wonderful experience.

In short, The Manger gives families that have fallen on hard times the opportunity to purchase 3 gifts for all of those people in their family (themselves included) for $2 each. This includes one “large gift” ($10 or more in value) and two smaller gifts. The gifts are all donated and new. This allows the dignity to have purchased the gifts which will be opened on Christmas morning by other family members. They are able to provide for their family in a tough time. While at “The Manger“, they are given the opportunity to speak with someone in the sharing room. The gifts they choose are even wrapped before they leave.

Here are my thoughts from just one night:

– It was incredible to see the “lift” in the faces of those in the long line when we arrived as they walked out with Christmas morning settled for their family.

– It warmed my heart to have all three of my children by my side as we assisted shoppers through the process. They filled the shopping bags and kept count for those we helped.

– Tonight when we pray, remember two special ladies we assisted won’t you? If you would like to lift them by name, their names were Misty and Judy. I pray that God will shower them with His comfort, blessings and grace.

– At one point, I caught a glimpse of the “sharing room” where my wife was seated next to a woman that was pouring her heart out as tears streamed down her face. I pray that she was able to leave some burdens at “The Manger” tonight and the road rises to meet her.

– I was thankful that each shopper was given a name tag and reminded that “there is no sweeter sound to someone than the sound of their own name”.

Our Home Group is headed back to “The Manger” tomorrow night to again assist. I honestly wish I could go every night this week. It is a reminder of what Christmas is all about. It is the image of a grace that God has given each of us. If you have the opportunity to support “The Manger” this week, please see their web site for ways to give. While you may not be able to be there physically, trust me when I say that your gift will be cherished by those that receive it.

Click HERE for ways to help “The Manger”