On Christmas Eve, Summit Church is full of family, friends, and guests all celebrating when God came down as a helpless babe to begin the greatest rescue mission ever known. Sharing the good news of great joy together as a community is one of my favorite times of year. As a member of the Local and Global Partnerships team, each of these services holds an extra bit of excitement for me because we get to share with you another story about what love—on mission—can do. Each year, we give our Christmas Eve offering to a partner organization that has a God-sized mission to alleviate suffering, build up communities, and restore all that is lost.
Last year’s recipient, Samaritan Village, Inc, is an Orlando organization that works to restore women who have been sexually trafficked back to wholeness in Christ. They do this through an intensive trauma-informed residential program that walks with women through the hard work of healing for 12-18 months. Make no mistake, the team at Samaritan Village stands at the front lines of spiritual warfare on behalf of exploited women in our City Beautiful. They have become a model for best practices in the field of care for victims of human trafficking.
They actually have the distinction of having been the recipient of our Christmas Eve offering twice. The first was six years ago, before the reality of how pervasive and prevalent human trafficking in our city was truly known.Their founder, Rhonda Stapleton, had been working for years as a chaplain in Orange County Jail and ministering to women still in bondage to addiction and traffickers. She was a witness to the nightmare women were unable to escape right in our own backyards. God gave her a dream to prepare a place for women to find healing in Christ. That year, your gift became Ruth’s House, a home where over a dozen women have found safety and healing.
With your gift at the end of 2015, Samaritan Village was able to renovate their home (Ruth’s House), increase the number of women in their program, purchase a van that allows them to safely transport the women to vital services such as trauma counseling, bring in a clinical director to supervise care, and to move and update Transitions (a resale boutique that helps fund the ministry). They have taken each dollar given and increased their capacity to minister to vulnerable women. Each dollar that you placed in an offering basket last Christmas has been faithfully used to increase hope for vulnerable women desperate for hope in our community, not just for one year, but for years to come.
Increasing ministry beyond our four walls is why we share our Christmas Eve Offering. These organizations draw close to people who are suffering and are often far from Christ. Your generosity becomes a catalyst for those doing this incredibly good work locally and globally to magnify the glory of God.
Thank you for your generosity over the years in giving toward our Christmas Eve Offering—your generosity has made an incredible impact. We are excited to celebrate Christmas with you this Saturday and to give our 2016 offering toward Children's HopeChest.
Liz Cronlund is the Community Development Coordinator for Summit Church. If you would like more information about ways you can be a part of serving our city, email her at email@example.com.