Rather than over spend on Christmas gifts this year, Gilbert's MISSION Community Church is asking church and community members to spend less money on presents, more time with family and donate what they can afford to Advent Conspiracy.
“Giving is what leads to true joy,” said Mike Work, the executive pastor of operations at MISSION.
Advent Conspiracy, a non-profit that started in 2006, provides meals, clean drinking water and housing to African refugees. It began when four churches asked their parishioners to spend less on gifts, more time on relationships and donate money to provide clean drinking water for those in need.
MISSION joined the movement in 2010 and set the goal to provide meals for 1,500 kids. For $40, a child would be provided with a nutritious meal every day for a year. Instead, the church donated much more than anticipated, enough to feed 4,700 children.
“It blew us away,” Mike Work said about the unexpected amount of donations. “It was amazing.”
He credits much of the donations to fundraisers by the youth of the church.
“Children had garage sales,” Work said. “The kids in our church really caught the vision.”
Work said that a number of children asked for donations instead of birthday presents last year.
This year, students are still leading the way.
One teenage student pledged to donate all of his December earnings from his part-time job to Advent Conspiracy, Work said.
This year, the church’s goal is to provide meals for 5,000 children in 2012.
“If you don’t have that (food), you can’t go to school or go to church,” Work said. By investing in someone else, a single person can make an even larger impact, he said.
“Jesus said when we care for the poor and hurting, we take care of him,” said Mark Connelly, the lead pastor. “We at MISSION can think of no better way to celebrate the birth of Jesus than by doing that very thing.”
Results of the donations will be announced at the church’s six services at 4:30 and 6 p.m., Dec. 23, and at 3, 4:30, 6 and 7:30 p.m., Dec. 24.
For more information on how to give to Advent Conspiracy, as well as Christmas Eve services at MISSION Community Church, visit www.Mission68.org. To see video testimonials from the 2010 Advent Conspiracy, visit www.vimeo.com/mission68.
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