This week I sat down with Christine Appel to discuss the history of Project Greatest Gift, a home-grown ministry that serves kids in kinship and foster care in northern Colorado at Christmastime.
Every year during the month of November, we partner with the Health and Human Services departments of Weld, Adams, and Boulder Counties to provide for children and families in the kinship and foster care systems.
In this interview, Christine tells the story of how Project Greatest Gift got started, the vision behind it, and how God has used it over the past few years.
Importantly, we also discuss what is different this year in 2020, as Project Greatest Gift expands to an online platform.
Brightly colored eggs were strewn all over Roosevelt Park this past Saturday, April 20, morning. A balloon artist, bouncy obstacles, face painting, a puppet show and a craft table of bracelets made with Cheerios were all part of the White Fields Community Church’s Easter Egg Hunt and Festival. (WFCC) Head Pastor Nick Cady of WFCC…
Recently I told you about Project Back to School: White Fields Community Church’s annual summertime outreach to kids in foster care in conduction with Weld County Health and Human Services.
This month-long project concluded today with some of us from the church delivering the backpacks to the case workers in Weld County. They will be delivered to these needy families in the coming days and weeks.
Staging and Inventory
Here’s a message from Travis Hergert, who oversees missions and outreach for White Fields:
This morning, Joe Cady, Pastor Nick and I had the great privilege of delivering the backpacks that you so graciously provided to 135 elementary, middle school and high school age foster children. As you all are well aware, each pack was filled with the needed school supplies for Weld County Schools.
It took two pickup trucks to haul all of the backpacks to Greeley! As we were unloading them at the facility, I was so moved when one of the Human Services workers commented that he is always amazed at how our church manages to provide this amount of backpacks and an incredible amount of gifts at Christmas. He said he wanted to know the secret of how a congregation is so engaged with their community! All of the Human Services case workers were incredibly appreciative and very excited to give each child their new backpack and supplies.
This goes beyond just backpacks, you truly showed the love of Christ in a tangible way!
…As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:15, ESV)
It was great to see how excited the case workers were about the backpacks, having personal knowledge of the kids and the details of their situations. Please be in prayer both for the kids, their caretakers and these case workers who care so much about them.
“Let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18)
Did you know that children in the foster system form an at-risk people group without in our own communities?
In almost every case, the reason these children end up in foster care is because of an unsuitable home environment, which may involve violence, neglect, drugs, crime, etc. These environments not only result in trauma many times, but they also tend to result in or be associated with poverty. Many foster care situations are kinship care, which means the child is cared for by a relative, which can create a financial burden.
Poverty has a profound impact on a child’s mental and physical well-being. Children living in poverty have higher rates of absenteeism from school. Students who come from low income families are six times more likely to drop out of high school. Adults without a high school diploma are 4 times more likely to be unemployed and live in poverty, which means raising their children in poverty, perpetuating a cycle of poverty which may persist for generations: poverty affects education which affects poverty. (source 1, source 2)
One of the ways that we can help kids break out of this cycle of poverty is by encouraging them to stay in school – and one of the ways we can do that is by helping them have the things they need to be confident and excited about going to school, so they can succeed!
Our church, White Fields Community Church, has a history of ministering to children in the foster system, and two years ago we began a new ministry: Project Back to School.
We are working with Weld County Department of Human Services, and this year they have identified 135 at-risk kids who need help with school supplies, clothes and shoes.
This is the most we’ve ever taken on. The first year we did 50, last year we did 100 – and this year we’ve accepted their request to provide for 135 kids! It’s a big step of faith, but we are trusting that God will raise up people to bless these families in the name of Jesus. It’s a way for us to love not only in words and in speech, but in action as well (1 John 3:18).
If you would like to be involved, visit us on a Sunday morning this July, leave a comment below, or contact the church here.
In this episode we discuss how White Fields began doing our Easter Egg Hunt outreach in Longmont which has grown over the years into a festival that draws thousands of people every year. We also address the question: “Why would a church put on an Easter Egg hunt?” Help us spread the word by giving the video a like and sharing it on your social media or sending it directly to some friends. Follow us onYouTubeorVimeoandSoundcloud.
Whenever you look at the mountains, remember this:
“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,” Says the LORD who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:10)
Last weekend, after church, we went camping at our favorite spot in Grand County, Colorado. Here’s the view of our backyard up there:
We were right along the Colorado River.
Some of us in our family had had a cold before going up there, and for me and the baby it got worse – to the point where my wife had to take baby home early. I stayed with one of our kids, and we had a good time.
On the way home, we drove through Rocky Mountain National Park. I was already congested, but the pressure was too much, because I developed an ear infection. I got antibiotics for it and am on the mend now.
My biggest concern was whether I would still be able to run the Sunrise Stampede 10k today or not, but I felt well enough to go for it, and I heard that the rule with running when sick is “the neck rule”: if it’s above the neck, you’re good to go and running might help it; if it’s in your neck or below, then don’t run because running will make it worse.
I ran the race, and I’m glad I did. I ran the 10k in 53:26, 1:35 faster than my last year’s time for this race, and 21 seconds faster than my best 10k time in training.
One of these days I’ll get below 50 minutes…
The Sunrise Stampede is a great event that is in its 32nd year. Proceeds go to support the special education department of the St. Vrain Valley School District.
White Fields Community Church was a sponsor this year, so in addition to the 8 people from church who ran the race, we had others who staffed the booth and got to meet many people, and share with them about Jesus and what God is doing at White Fields.
At the race I met someone from the community who is a reader of this blog! It’s always encouraging to have those kinds of interactions and to know that people are reading and being blessed by what is shared here.
Tomorrow morning White Fields will be having our outdoor service. The band has been preparing and I’m excited to share on the topic of the gospel: what it is, what it isn’t, and what it means for us to be gospel-centered people and a gospel-centered church.
Come on out and join us for this special service if you’re in the area!
Here’s our worship pastor, Mike Payne, with a quick video about it:
Halloween is a conundrum for many Christians. Is it only a weird fashion show for candy, or is it something more sinister? Should Christians allow their kids to dress up in innocent costumes and go knock on their neighbors doors begging for sweets, or should we forsake participation in this whole thing altogether?
This week I read this post about Halloween by a Christian woman, which I found very insightful. She points out one very important thing: This is the only day of the year, when most of your neighbors are going to come knocking on your door. The only day.
So, what are you going to do? Are you going to go to a church event far away from your neighbors? Will you turn off the lights and refuse to answer the door? OR, are you going to use this unique opportunity to reach out to your neighbors?
Being missional means being intentional about being incarnational.
If you look in the Bible, at the nation of Israel, you find that they constantly fell in one of two ditches: On the one hand they had a tendency to conform to the nations around them: to take on their ungodly customs, and to worship their gods. They were called to be set-apart and different, but they oftentimes just wanted to be like everyone around them, and it got them in trouble. On the other hand, the other ditch they fell in was – like the Pharisees in the time of Jesus – they viewed themselves as superior to those around them and avoided contact with people who were not like them, lest they be defiled by them.
We as Christians need to avoid these two ditches as well, and make sure that we remember our calling to bring God’s light to all the nations, including those who live on our block and on our street. So many people are eager to do mission work somewhere else! But let us not neglect the neighborhoods that God has placed us in.
I’m not asking you to celebrate Halloween. I’m not asking you to compromise anything. I’m only asking you to consider how you can use this opportunity to be missional and incarnational, to build relationships through which you can share the love of God and the Gospel. Every year at Easter, White Fields church puts on an Easter egg hunt outreach in the Roosevelt Park in Longmont. We’re not condoning Easter traditions that take attention away from the resurrection of Jesus – what we are trying to do is meet people where they are at, so that we can have the chance to speak to them about Jesus. That’s a very important difference, both at Easter and this week at Halloween.
One thing I will be doing is passing out White Fields stickers. Kids love stickers – and these ones have our church’s website on them. Another thing I will be doing is trying to get to know my neighbors. We might put our fire pit out front to give people a place to get warm. We might provide coffee for parents. We’re still thinking through it – but here’s the point: we want to reach out.
I love this quote from the blog post I mentioned above:
If Jesus can go straight to hell, stare death and devil in the face, win and come back alive, why can’t we open our doors to the 6 year old in a Batman costume and his shivering mom?
What do you think? What’s the best way for Christians to respond to Halloween?