Last fall, Rockcastle Baptist Association hosted and implemented “Give Hope”, a Christmas Backpack distribution for children in the area. A young lady named Zoe, who was very shy and hesitant, came and selected a backpack filled with surprises to take home. She heard the gospel shared and enjoyed the activities and events of the day. Later that night after arriving home, she opened the backpack to discover a Bible. Zoe had never had her own Bible and was interested and curious to explore the stories within. Although she struggled with depression and anxiety, while reading her new Bible she experienced an overwhelming sense of trust, peace, and joy. Zoe was so excited to learn that God could love someone like her and that He died to give her life! Full of joy, she came out of her room crying and hugging her mom. I don’t know the individual or church that packed and prepared the backpack for Zoe, but God does, and He worked through them to reveal Himself to a young girl in need of hope.
Not many months from now, backpacks full of clothes, toys and food items will be distributed and the gospel shared by missionaries and church planters with other children like Zoe. I anticipate the number of families needing help at Christmas this year to be even greater because of high unemployment due to COVID-19. Business is returning slowly in the Commonwealth, but the future remains uncertain for so many who are still out of work, or only allowed to return part-time.
The increased need for backpacks and the hope they provide is challenged by the fact that many churches are just now returning to in-person gatherings because of coronavirus restrictions. That challenge is exacerbated because most small groups and mission organizations who normally assume the responsibility for leading the initiative are still not meeting.
For this reason, your help is needed so that other children can experience at Christmas this year, the joy and hope that Zoe discovered. Prayerfully consider the following:
- Use your social media network to promote the effort and encourage others to participate in preparing and packing a backpack.
- Some small groups and mission organization are using Zoom, MicroSoft Teams, or Google Groups to stay connected during this time. Use these platforms to tell about the need and share how your group can get involved.
- Lead your family to shop for and pack a backpack, praying together for the child that will receive it. This is a great way for children to join mom and dad in showing the love of Christ.
- Take a few minutes during Sunday worship, in-person, on the parking lot or online, to promote the Christmas backpacks and determine to be the church, not just go!
- Let us know how many backpacks you plan to pack by registering online so that we can coordinate with the needs of missionaries and church planters.
The coronavirus is not the first challenge the church has confronted when meeting needs and sharing the gospel, and it most likely will not be the last. Zoe wasn’t the first person to come to Christ because of Christmas backpacks, and my prayer is that she will not be the last. Let’s work together through this crisis and creatively explore how we might most effectively prepare backpacks to be shared at Christmas, so that Christ will be made known, again and again and again!
For more information about Christmas backpacks, contents, packing, dates and delivery, visit: www.kybaptist.org/backpacks.