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So What’s Different?

The joy of blessing others who are less fortunate at Christmas is a great reminder of the beautiful gift God gave . to us in His Son Jesus. Who doesn’t like seeing the beautiful look on a child’s face as he or she receive that lovingly prepared present! We realize that God commands us to always be givers, but what better time of year is there to give not just a physical gift but also have the chance to tell people of that life changing gift Jesus came to bring.

Every year, churches spend countless hours making and collecting thousands of shoebox gifts, only to send them to some giant warehouse to be shipped overseas, never knowing exactly what happened to them. Those who spent their time and money lovingly putting those precious gifts together never get the opportunity to see the joy they brought or know the impact they had. That’s where Holy Presents is different! Your church may already work with a shoe box ministry, but we at The Center would like to “ challenge you to take it to the next level.

Every December, teams come to bring the gifts they’ve collected to Colonias here in the RGV. They personally distribute this little box of treasures and are able to see first hand the happiness it brings to those needy children. More importantly, teams have a part in bringing them the greatest gift of all: One that will not just bring them joy for a moment, but will last forever – new life in Jesus Christ! We’d like to take the opportunity to invite you and your church to come join us this year in bringing the gift of Jesus to these children and their families.

What is a Colonia?

Most of you reading this have never seen the type of conditions these children are living in. Once you experience it, you’ll understand just how important this ministry is.

Colonias are considered semi-rural unregulated settlements made up of ramshackle housing put together randomly with whatever materials the residents can find. Built on expanses of undeveloped land, they lack basic physical infrastructures such as potable water, sanitary sewage, adequate roads and at times, even electricity. The office of the Texas Attorney General said by 2011, Texas had about 2,294 colonias. As of 2011, Hidalgo County, located here in the RGV, had the largest number of colonias, inhabited by an estimated 500,000. Predominantly a Latino population, it’s been determined that 85 percent under the age of 18 are United States citizens. Ann Cass Williams from Projecto Azteca often refers to colonias as being built on “Hell’s Half Acre.” They are far removed. They are hidden from the rest ‘ of our society,” she said. The southern U.S. border is one of the poorest regions in the nation and most families living in these communities are making $15,000 a year or less. Clearly their focus is on providing basic necessities for their family to survive. Christmas presents for their children are not a priority.

How Can Our Church Be Involved?

The opportunity is there to make this a church-wide, family Christmas event that we can assure you will not only change the lives of these children but the lives of everyone involved. Your church will participate by not only making and collecting the gifts, but also bringing a team from your church to distribute them.

Every aspect of your trip is planned out for you. The VBMEC campus will serve as base camp for the weekend. You’ll be staying in our comfortable, modern dormitory with great meals being provided by our awesome kitchen staff. Visit VBMEC.org for a peek at what we have to offer. Our capable staff, who have years of experience in planning, coordinating and leading these outreaches will be working with your team.

We have two other important aspects of this ministry your group can take part in. Coats for Kids and Blankets for Babes help provide vital warmth for people living in these communities. Yes, we’re in South Texas, but it does get COLD here in the winter! We’re looking for donations of new or gently used blankets and coats as well as help to distribute these desperately needed items.

Basic Schedule

Upon arrival the Thursday of the weekend you choose, you’ll spend the evening resting up from your journey, relaxing and being briefed on upcoming events. Friday will be spent organizing the gifts and making sure each one is just right before Saturday’s outreach. Saturday your team will go out to one of our Colonias. We’ll start by canvassing and prayer walking the area, inviting the children out to a great block party run by your team. A short gospel presentation will be given after the block party, concluding with the gift distribution. We work only with committed local pastors and churches planted right there in the community. That way, everyone is assured that follow up occurs and that it’s not just a “flash in the pan” type of outreach. We’ll return to the center and conclude with a share and praise time, complete with hot cocoa and snacks. If it’s not cold enough, we’ll turn the air conditioning down!

How Do We Start?

1. Pick a weekend in December and call our Mission Team Coordinator Rick Hall at 956-404- 7656 to make reservations and receive further instructions.

2. Visit VBMEC.org. All the instructions are there, step by step from what to put in your boxes to how to collect them. There’s even a printable poster for collection Sunday and printable labels to put on your boxes. Details of room and board cost are at the website.

3. We’ll be purchasing a Bible to be put in each gift, so be sure to collect $5.00 per box from those contributing them. This will help with the purchase and transport of these Bibles.

4. Come on down! We can’t wait to host and work with your team. We’re excited to see what blessings God has in store.