It can happen on any day and any time, for a multitude of reasons; Yolo County Department of Health and Human Services (YHSS) gets a call. Their response is to the aid of children all over the county. Often, children are relocated with only a few items they can physically grab on the way out of their current living arrangement. It is in those times that YHSS leans on the donations of outside organizations or their community to provide the basic items children need as they transition to a new circumstance.
After seeing several children relocated in the most desperate of situations, law enforcement chaplain Matt Van Peursem, who is also the lead pastor of Catalyst Church in Woodland, California, decided to step in and help. Nine years ago, the GiveLove initiative to serve Yolo County’s foster youth started with drawstring backpacks to be filled with a set of clothes and toiletries for the age and gender of the specified child. Catalyst Church was able to fill over 1,000 bags when the church found out about unmet Christmas wishes. In 2018, the GiveLove initiative expanded from the emergency bags to include granting the Christmas wish of every foster child in Yolo County. The foster families ask each child for their Christmas wish and share them with Catalyst, which turns them into sponsorship cards. The members of the church pick up cards at their weekend service and return with a fulfilled Christmas wish. After wrapping the hundreds of gifts, they’re delivered to YHSS for distribution to the children before Christmas Day.
“We have fostered for years and never knew where these gifts came from”, said Patty Dollens, a new member to Catalyst. “It was incredible to find out that the place where we found Jesus is filled with the same people who grant all these Christmas wishes. It is now our joy to give back on the other side and bless other families the way we were blessed.”
Over the last nine years, Catalyst has been able to grant over 4,000 Christmas wishes to foster children in Yolo County, and they don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. (John 1:14)
Beginning with this well-known and oft-used verse, the December 2023 Missional Initiatives Newsletter invites us to consider more deeply what it truly means to “dwell” in our neighborhoods.
Including a reflection, story, and resources from Cam Roxburgh, VP of Missional Initiatives, this month’s newsletter is not only fitting for this Advent season, it is a perfect primer for the kind of people we should be all year long.
Wiesenthal Baptist Church is the quintessential rural church; the two closest population centers are Leduc to the north (pop: 30,000) and Millet to the southeast (pop: 2,000), both at least a ten-minute drive from the church. Prior to coming to Wiesenthal five years ago, Pastor Stephen Epp had mainly lived in the city. He soon realized he would need to learn new ways of connecting with people, of becoming a part of the community. He began practicing “the simple homesteading things,” like chickens, gardening, and even beekeeping.
These simple acts of homesteading are exactly the kinds of missional activities practiced by NAB pastors and leaders across North America. It is not the gardening or beekeeping in themselves that are missional, but rather it is living incarnationally, connecting with people where they are. This reflects God’s instructions to the Babylonian exiles in Jeremiah 29:5–7 to plant gardens and “work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I have sent you” (NLT). When you give to the Ministry Resource Fund, you are helping, in part, to support the training and Gospel work that encourages and provides resources for this kind of missional ministry.
Follow the link below to read the rest of the story about Pastor Stephen and his bees, give to the NAB’s 2023 Christmas Offering, and find resources for your church or home group.
As we wind down ministry for 2023, we invite you to check out the end-of-year letter from Dr. Harry Kelm sharing snapshots of all God did in and through the NAB this year, and what we are anticipating for 2024.
Additionally, as you consider donating to the NAB in tax year 2023, here are a few factors to keep in mind to make sure we are able to give you a tax receipt for calendar year 2023:
- If you are sending a check, please make sure the check and the envelope postmark are both dated no later than December 31, 2023.
- Online credit card transactions must be charged no later than December 31, 2023.
- The last day to send Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) forms prior to the end of the year was December 18, 2023.
- The last day to donate stock prior to the end of the year was December 11, 2023.
Please note the NAB International Office is closed beginning at 4:00 p.m. (PST) on Thursday, December 21, 2023, and reopens at 7:00 a.m. (PST) on Tuesday, January 2, 2024.