LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) - Matthew 9:36 challenges us to reach compassionately the harassed and helpless. No demographic is more helpless than children. Here in Kentucky, 26 percent of our children live in poverty, that’s one out of every four children.
For the 985,000 children in Kentucky who live in poverty, Christmas doesn’t always come with the promise of gifts—or even a Christmas meal. Every day is more about survival than celebration. But we can help change that.
One very practical way that we can compassionately reach the needy children in our state is through Christmas backpacks.
Last year, almost 8,000 Christmas backpacks were collected in Kentucky for distribution by missionaries and church planters. Each backpack is a tangible expression of God’s love as it is filled with gifts of clothing, toys and food items. But the greatest gift within each backpack is a copy of the true Christmas story. Many children have never heard the “true” Biblical Christmas story.
There were hundreds of decisions for Christ because of the gospel message shared with each backpack. An exciting thing about those decisions is many of them were made by parents and grandparents of the children receiving the backpacks. The backpacks don’t just provide hope to a needy child, they impact the whole family. One example is the single mother, who along with her two children, came to know Christ and made a profession of their faith through the backpack give-away in Somerset with missionary Stacey Burton.
When the backpacks are received by children living in difficult circumstances, not only are the children and their families affected, so are those who prepare and pack the backpacks. Many churches report that their whole congregation was involved in this ministry, young and old, including those who can’t travel on a mission trip. Some churches reported that working together on the backpacks helped them to focus outwardly on the needs of others rather than upon internal church issues.
Evangelist Dwight L. Moody said, "If I could relive my life, I would devote my entire ministry to reaching children for God!" How devoted are you to reaching children for God?
Let me challenge you and your church or small group to commit to preparing and packing backpacks for children to receive this Christmas. Time is running out because backpacks must be ready for delivery by early October. It all starts with you - but ends in someone coming to know Jesus Christ and the true Christmas story.
For more information, or to commit your group’s participation in the Christmas Backpack Project, visit: www.kybaptist.org/backpacks.
Eric Allen is the leader of Kentucky Baptist Convention’s Missions Mobilization team.