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The Lake News Online
  • Boxes of hope

  • This holiday season, one lake-area church is teaming up with a corporate retailer and a lake-area organization to bring an international idea to this community.
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  • This holiday season, one lake-area church is teaming up with a corporate retailer and a lake-area organization to bring an international idea to this community.
    "In the Lord's prayer, Jesus prays and instructs us to pray in such a way to ask God that things on earth would be the same as they are in Heaven and that part of the Lord's prayer has been what we have been paying attention to over the last several months," Lead Pastor of The Church at Osage Hills Ken Lumley said. "As we come to the Christmas season, we wanted to sort of stay in that line of teaching from Jesus and that sort of prayer."
    Osage Hills staff came upon a book entitled, 'Give this Christmas Away,' which is composed of 101 ways to get into the Christmas spirit.
    "They had 'Operation Christmas Child' on page one of the book and we were too late to participate. We were already developing a partnership with the Lighthouse Mission staff and the Food Bank and had been apart of their first two distribution Fridays in Oct. and Nov. So the thought became, what if we took the Operation Christmas Child concept and implemented that in a ministry that our church is already actively involved in locally," Lumley said.
    So, he began thinking of how to make the thought a reality and to garner community support. Lumley reached out to Justin Steffen, Nike store manager, to see if they could help.
    Steffen took the idea to his team and immediately agreed to help.
    "Our aim is to be not just a store in the community but a store of the community," Steffen said. "The team was very excited about the opportunity."
    Nike not only donated 500 shoeboxes to The Church at Osage Hills but employees from the local store are even filling up shoeboxes on their own.
    According to Lumley, this excitement and way of thinking is all a part of a recent cultural shift.
    "I believe there are a couple of things culturally that are being stirred. I believe there is an observable, discernable interest on the part of organizations and corporations to make a positive impact in their community for needs that those specific communities want to and need to address," Lumley said.
    Lumley believes that not only corporations are feeling the need to get involved in their communities but churches are being more aware of how to help and serve in their own backyards, as well.
    "In terms of the church, there has been a development over the last five to 10 years where as churches are taking steps to also engage with their communities in these very concrete and hands-on kinds of ways," he said.
    Page 2 of 2 - Unfortunately, churches cannot always do the type of giving they would like to do on their own.
    "What churches don't have is the financial resources in their budgets in order to make the kind of impact in their communities the way they would like to, but they have all kinds of resources in terms of energy, volunteer help, there are even ways that there could be partnerships waged through churches because church is the one place in culture that has people from all different areas assembled in it every week," Lumley added.
    For Osage Hills staff, one of the most inspiring facets of this project so far has been seeing the reaction of some of the youngest members of the church family.
    The morning that Lumley announced the project to the church body, Children's Ministry Director LaDonnna Beckmeyer filled twelve shoeboxes with items from the D.O.C.K. store.
    Children have the opportunity to earn D.O.C.K.'s bucks for attending, bringing their Bible and so on. When they earn so much, they get to 'go shopping' in a store that Beckmeyer created.
    The shoeboxes were for sale for $25 and children could put their bucks toward a shoebox if they chose to. On average, it would take a month to accrue $25 worth of D.O.C.K.'s bucks.
    Beckmeyer hoped that six of the twelve would be purchased on that Sunday. To her surprise, all twelve were gone in no time. Children pulled their earnings together and even bought more items to go in the shoeboxes. One first grader even purchased three on his own.
    Older youth also grasped quickly to this idea, as well. After their normal youth time on a Wednesday night, middle school students piled into vans and made their way to Dollar General with adult leaders and Middle School Pastor, Jaron Humiston. Students immediately began to pull out any money and change they had out of their pockets. The group scrounged up about $250 total and bought enough toys and useful items for about ten shoe boxes.
    For Lumley and the rest of his staff, this project is not about them or Osage Hills, it's about giving to others.
    Osage Hills hosted a wrapping party on Monday, Dec. 9 and will be loading up the shoeboxes on Wednesday, Dec. 11. The gifts will be given out during the Lighthouse Mission's mobile food pantry on Dec. 13.
    Lumley hopes that the churches outreach does not stop here.
    "To me some of what is exciting is there is a stirring in the business and corporate community to say, 'let's leverage some of our resources for community impact and improvement ' and there is a growing call of God to local churches to express the Gospel to that community by hands-on impact to add value and improvement to the community they live in," Lumley said. "My belief is that if businesses could partner together with local churches, that those resources that those businesses have could be expanded and could explode because of the volunteer energy that churches could bring to the table."

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