Each week, ServeNow staff and board members from around the world receive an update about what transpired during that particular week. It constantly amazes us what the Lord does and can do in just one week’s time! We wanted to share with you a few highlights of what happened during this holiday season, and we pray that it encourages your heart to know that God is truly at work around the world! Please keep ServeNow in your prayers this year. We would also be very grateful for your support to ensure we can continue to see lives touched and transformed by God’s love!
During the holiday week with our families, I was glad that some of our staff still agreed to come along with me, sharing the joy, hope and love of Christ’s birth. We visited some of the neediest people in the leprosy colony as well as poor villagers in and around Hyderabad. The smiles on their faces were our greatest gift this Christmas.
We enjoyed a festive multi-day holiday celebration this year with much outreach to our neighbors. We began our Christmas celebration on December 19 in an area of the slum. There was dancing and music, sharing the message of Jesus Christ, as well as distributing blankets. Some local dignitaries were present. On the evening of December 24, we celebrated Christmas Eve at our main center by distributing blankets, food and gifts. More than 1,500 people from the Hindu and Muslim community were present. On Christmas Day, we held a church service which was again attended by many of our Hindu and Muslim neighbors. That evening, we hosted a musical program which included the message of the Gospel. We finished our week-long celebration with a midnight prayer service on New Year’s Eve, including fireworks for the children.
Testimonies from Recipients of Blankets
Phuni Seikh (45 years old): “I am a beggar who lives at the Tollygunge metro station. My husband was a thief who lived a life of crime. One day, we fought, and he beat me and set me on fire. Somehow, I managed to put out the fire and run away. This year, I started coming to this center. The people here gave me a blanket and food. I have never had such kind treatment from anyone before. I pray to God that He may bless all those who helped and loved me, and that God may bless this center.”
Sk. Ashada Bewa (55 years old): “I am a beggar who lives at the Tollygunge metro station. This year, I came to this center and found that these people welcomed me. They gave me honor and dignity which I have never received or expected from anybody. They not only provided me with food and cakes but also blankets for the cold winter. I pray to God that He may bless all those who helped and loved me.”
Salema Bibi (70 years old): “I go from house to house to beg. Previously, I used to work, but I cannot work anymore due to my age and disease. While I was begging, one person invited me to come to this center where they help poor people. So I came here and was astonished by the behavior of the people here. They gave me cake and a blanket. I am very happy. I pray to God that they may help more poor people like me every year.”
One of the unique aspects of a ServeNow mission trip is the variety of places, people, projects and programs you are exposed to each day. On our first full day in Nepal, we visited a church in one of the slums of Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. We distributed blankets and hats as well as the Story of Jesus for the children and Basic Series for the adults. On the second day, we took a wild hour and a half ride through a river, up and around a mountain (on a narrow dirt road with no guardrails) where more than 400 people were waiting for us. After sharing the Good News of Jesus with them, we distributed blankets. Some people had walked about two hours just for a blanket. The next day, we helped at a medical camp while praying for people, playing with the children and sharing God’s love with them. On Saturday, we shared at a church during their weekly service. On Sunday, we visited the women who are currently enrolled in our tailoring program. We also distributed winter coverings (hats, fleece jackets and warm soft pants) to 200 children. These children walked 4 to 5 hours down a mountain, just to receive these winter coverings. They are so poor that they made this journey on empty stomachs. Thankfully, we were able to give the people snacks and drinks for their long trip back again. The district government official told us they could never dream of buying coverings like these for themselves. During the winter, they actually dig holes in the ground to keep warm. This was one of the most touching moments of the trip, serving these precious children who had come so far for simply some warm clothing. (To read a fuller report of the entire trip click here)
The holidays continue in Ukraine. This week, Christmas gifts were given to children and adults in the city Kharkiv. A team of volunteers from ServeNow Ukraine visited male and female prisons, orphanages for mentally disabled children and a boarding school for girls with mental disabilities. We talked about the meaning of Christmas and the love of God for them. Volunteers bore witness to Christ and shared stories about what the Lord has done in their lives.
We also visited a needy family at their home. Vanya (54 years old), Natasha (37 years old), Andrew (17 years old) and Yegor (6 years old) live in one small room. There is no toilet or shower. Natasha ran away from the city of Kirovsk when the fighting started. She was also running away from her husband who was physically abusive. Her older son lived for a long time with her grandmother but, thanks to volunteers, was recently reunited with his mother. This family is in need of many basic living supplies. In the Christmas gift box, they received clothes, toys and crayons for the younger son. These gifts were a great help and joy to this family. Natasha is a quiet woman, still fearful of her husband, but she was smiling happily as she received these gifts. We thank everyone who made it all possible. We were able to make this family’s world a little bit warmer and better.