"For many ministries across the country it's an opportunity for them to reach out to needy children in their communities," said Ted Gandy, HLIC's national director. By working through different church and community groups they are able to reach not only children, but entire families across the country.
The bags contain candy, fresh fruit, a coloring book that tells the story of Jesus' life along with crayons, and a Gospel bracelet.
One woman in New York used the Easter Bags her church was providing to reach out to a struggling family in her apartment complex. When she arrived at their apartment to hand out the bags there were two families present. The woman used the Gospel bracelet to tell all of them the story of salvation. "This is the opportunity then to make a connection with that family in a physical, tangible way that led them, then, to coming into faith and then she's been following them up since," Gandy said.
Churches across the country are able to adapt the use of the Easter Bags to their ministry. "The great thing about this is it's an empowerment tool. The whole concept is to help the inner city churches that are in those communities 24/7 reach out to those in need around them," said Gandy. Gandy explained that some churches will hold an Easter program. Others may distribute them individually or use it as follow up with someone they've had previous contact with.
An Easter program in a struggling Harlem high-rise last year distributed the bags and saw 200 children pray to receive Christ. Afterward, their children's ministry was able to build on the decisions that the children had made.
"These compassionate products we've called them are those first connecting things," Gandy explained. The bags are a tangible way for a Christian to reach out to someone in need. "And then, from that, they can then begin following up helping those families at their point of physical, emotional and spiritual need so that they can help them get stabilized and eventually break that cycle of poverty."
Volunteers help put the bags together as well as donate the money needed to supply the items inside. Each bag costs $7.50. A generous "early Easter gift" of $75 would provide 10 Easter Bags this year. You can donate as God leads you by visiting their Web site.