Christmastime at the Mission
By Hannah Rodgers
The busy holiday season is upon us! Thanksgiving is in the rearview and Christmas festivities have begun. As we lead up to the celebration of Christ’s birth, people are bustling about Haven of Rest, but what are they doing? In addition to our regular programs and services, lots of extra special things are happening to make the Christmas season bright for men, women and children at the Mission.
At the beginning of December, over 200 children came to the Mission for the annual Happy Birthday Jesus Party. During this party, children were entertained by a special program, received stockings of candy and a present, and even sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Jesus and blew out His birthday candles.
Another program Haven of Rest undertakes is Christmas Help for families. This program helps to provide presents for children in families that might otherwise go without. Each year the Mission serves about 200 families and provides, primarily through donations from the community, an opportunity for children to experience the joy of presents under the tree on Christmas morning.
Haven of Rest also celebrates Christmas Day with chapel services proclaiming Christ’s birth. Two services, one at lunch time and one at dinner time, precede traditional, hot Christmas meals. During this time, everyone who comes to lunch or dinner will receive a special Christmas bag full of much-needed personal care items such as toothpaste, shampoo, soap, lip balm, comb, etc. These bags will be a blessing to about 400 people!
In addition to these programs there are annual Christmas parties for residents and clients, caroling around the Mission by volunteers as well as staff, and decorations in all three buildings (including 15 Christmas trees!).
Now you might ask, why all this fuss? Though we share about Him all year round, Christmas is a great time to share about Jesus. Christmas is when God came to be with us and it is always a priority at Haven of Rest to bring people in a closer relationship with Christ. Jesus did not come to us in a palace or mansion, he came to us in a lowly stable. The King of all had humble beginnings. This is a story that many of our guests can relate to and it is our pleasure to share it. Also, this time of year can be very emotional for our guests. It is hardly imaginable that anyone’s wish would be to be homeless for the holidays. It may be hard to see the joy in a season where family time is such an important part, if it has been months or even years since a man or woman has had contact with their family.
Please pray for all of the special programs happening at the Mission this month. Especially lift up all the men, women and children who will spend Christmas at Haven of Rest. May they find peace and joy in the story of our Savior’s birth and may His love fill their hearts.