By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
GLEN BURNIE, Md.—North Glen Church members will travel ten hours and head to the mountains for Christmas. They’re bound for Garrett, Ky., in the Appalachia to deliver presents, Christmas cheer and the Gospel of Jesus Christ to underprivileged children and their families.
The church partners with God’s Helping Hands (GHH), supported by Appalachia Regional Ministries. Melissa Gibson, director of the GHH, started the organization in 1999 when she saw a man bring a baby to church without a diaper. The overwhelming poverty and need broke Gibson’s heart and she felt God leading her to help. Members of North Glen began working with GHH in the summer of 2008, doing VBS, delivering supplies and helping at the center. They too, were moved with compassion for the poverty they saw and decided to return for Christmas. Last year the church started a sponsorship program to provide gifts and food to children and their families. Now mission teams from Ohio and Alabama are joining in the Christmas celebration.
“Last Christmas we had 100 kids. This year we’re expecting 300,” Victoria McDuffie said. McDuffie is North Glen’s Christian education and Kentucky mission director. “With North Glen, we know that we need to be more obedient in being an external church rather than teaching and worshipping within. God is blessing,” she said.
McDuffie worked with former Music Minister/Kentucky Mission Director A.J. Ballantine in ministering in Kentucky the first year North Glen went to Garrett. She helped with VBS. McDuffie knew after that first year that she was called to Kentucky. “Every time I go there, it’s home,” McDuffie said.
She was saddened to see that so many of the children are being raised by absentee parents or by grandparents because of the parents’ drug problems. Many have no spiritual background at all. “VBS and the Gifts for Garrett Christmas program is the only time some of these kids hear anything about Jesus,” she said.
McDuffie said the North Glen team is very intentional about their mission in Garrett. As the team talks with people, sings, gives away gifts and food, those coming to receive know there’s more to the mission than gift-giving. “They know this is not a ‘feel good’ trip only. They know we want them to have a personal relationship with the Lord.
North Glen’s congregation fully supports the Garrett trip. McDuffie asked for support for 50 children and it was done.
“The church is so committed,” she said.
This year, North Glen has the responsibilities for crafts. McDuffie said they’re going to work on projects that the kids can use to share the story of salvation with others.
McDuffie said North Glen wants to share the gift of Jesus and they want the children and families of Garrett to pass that gift along to others.
After all, it’s the reason for the season.