I cherish the time spent with family and friends during the holidays. The smell of fresh baked gingerbread cookies and sweet potato pie brings back wonderful memories. The brightly decorated Christmas tree with all the beautifully wrapped presents makes me smile.
I recall fond moments of watching our children in care at Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH) open their special Christmas gifts—gifts you helped to provide. I have watched some rip through packages while others carefully unwrap theirs with great precision. I have witnessed children scream with excitement over a shiny new tricycle or cry with joy over a beautiful doll.
But as I watch our children who have lived through so much trauma and chaos, I realize the best gifts can’t be wrapped in glittery paper with big bright bows, they come wrapped in your love!
Gifts like “home.”
Remember the story of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz? She was lost, frightened and longing for “home.” She dreamed of being back in Kansas with Auntie Em. Like Dorothy every child who walks through the doors of BCH dreams of finding “home.”
In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy discovers special words to return her home. “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home,” Dorothy whispers as she clicks her heels and is transported magically back to Kansas, back home where she is loved and cared for.
We do not live in a storybook world and there are no magical phrases to take away the hurt felt by Erissa. She does not know who her father is. Her mother died from an overdose. There were no ruby red slippers, no recitation to help Erissa escape her nightmare. For her “home” was a painful place.
She has had enough frightful experiences to last her a lifetime. She felt alone, discarded like a broken Christmas toy. But she is not a toy, she is a child—a child to be loved. Broken and alone, returning home was not an option.
You gave her the gift of “home.” A “home” where she has found refuge. A safe place. A place she hoped and dreamed was possible for her. A “home” where she feels the love and warmth of Christian cottage parents. She lives at a “home” where she experiences the true gift of Christmas—Christ’s love for a lost and hurting child. “HOME!”
“Home” comes in many shapes and sizes here at BCH:
“Home” is a cottage on one of our campuses.
“Home” is a foster family.
“Home” is a family care cottage.
“Home” is Cameron Boys Camp or Camp Duncan for Girls.
“Home” is a family sustained through our Tucker Greater Vision Outreach ministry.
“Home” is where our special needs adult residents experience independence, family, and compassionate care through a loving community of care givers.
“Home” is North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry (NCBAM) providing volunteers and resources, enabling our senior adults to live in their homes as long as possible.
“Home” is a place for birth moms to find hope and healing.
“Home” is an adoptive family.
“Home” is wrapped in your love!
The gift of home, the gift of life, the gift of hope, the gift of medical care, the gift of patient and kind cottage parents, the gift of food, the gift of clothes, the gift of encouragement, the gift of the Gospel being lived out and shared, the gift of healing, refuge, and safety. These are gifts so needed by those who walked through our doors last year. None of these can be wrapped in a box with brightly colored paper and big bows.
You help provide “home” for an abandoned five-year-old child, “life” for a precious baby girl, “hope” for a young boy whose mother is in prison, “healing” for a teenager adopted at the age of sixteen, “cottage parents’ loving hands” to dry the nightmare tears of a six-year-old boy who had been left in a burning home as an infant, “food, clothing, safety and refuge” for a sibling group of three boys that had been living in a car with their Dad who was struggling with a drug addiction, and “salvation” for two precious sisters who heard the gospel and asked Jesus into their hearts. These are the gifts you provided—gifts wrapped in your prayers, your love!
For me, Christmas is not an event to be celebrated just during the month of December. But it is an event to be celebrated 365 days of the year as we celebrate the most wonderful gift ever given—our Lord and Savior.
One of my favorite Christmas quotes is “Every time we give, it’s Christmas.” And so, I ask you to consider three requests. Will you give “home” this year? Will you give a voice to those who struggle to have a voice by sharing with your family, friends, and church the needs of those God has called us to be “HOME” for 365 days a year? These are challenging times. Will you consider giving a little extra for those who wish they could give, but cannot this year? Our children are depending on you!
I want our children to wake up on Christmas morning smelling freshly cooked gingerbread cookies and pumpkin pie. I want them to wake up with lots of gifts under the Christmas tree wrapped in brightly colored paper with great big glittery bows.
But more important, I want them to wake up to those gifts that can’t be wrapped in beautiful packages. I want them to wake up to the gift of “home” and all that word encompasses for those we serve. I want them to experience the true meaning of Christmas—the best gift ever given—Jesus!
From our “Home” to yours, Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas!
Note: Any gift you give between now and January 31, 2023 is matched dollar for dollar up to the challenge gift goal. When you make this "Worthwhile Investment," you are bringing children hope!. Please give.
Written by Brenda Gray, Executive Vice President, Development & Communications