Colombia (MNN) — For many children, Christmas break is something to look forward to all school year. It’s time to go home and relax with family, and to enjoy honey glazed ham and other holiday goodies.
For others, however, Christmas break is synonymous with hunger.
This is the case for many of the students that attend an International Needs Network school in Colombia. The school works to “take children out of the slums, give them a Christian education, take them all the way from kindergarten through high school,. With that Christian education and the sharing of the Gospel, that school is literally changing hundreds and hundreds of lives and is breaking the cycle of poverty,” says Rody Rodeheaver of I.N. Network. Each day, the students are given a hot meal, something that they might otherwise receive at home.
School hours are devoted to preparing for the future. For a time, the children’s focus is on bettering their lives, building a relationship with Christ, and crawling out of poverty.
But at home, the reality of poverty remains. On breaks, Rodeheaver says, “Some of those children aren’t even getting a meal a day.”
Rodeheaver recently spoke to a friend and supporter of the mission who was impressed with their work in their Colombian school. With the problem of hunger in mind, Rodeheaver said to her, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could throw a Christmas party for those children in this school?”
Soon, that idea became a reality. “Throwing a party in Jesus’ name really makes a lot of sense because [it] communicates the idea that God’s love is holistic and it covers [all] parts of our lives. God wants to bless His children: all of us.” Among the invited were the students, the staff’s children, and the children from the surrounding community who attend their church.
Overall, 600 children arrived to take part in the Christmas festivities. “You cannot believe the beautiful children with the big eyes, many of them who wouldn’t have received a Christmas present,” Rodeheaver expresses.
He recalls an incident from the party: “One lady came up and hugged one of our staff people and said, ‘You know, I have three children, and they weren’t going to receive anything for Christmas. And now, they’ve received gifts and have had a wonderful Christmas party.’ She said this through her tears.” The presents were given according to age and included clothes, toys, and soccer balls.
Besides opening presents, Rodeheaver says, “They also danced, sang, and played games. It was a marvelous experience. Those children were reminded that God loves them, and that God will take care of them.”
This Christmas party was another way for I.N. Network to address the hunger that occurs over breaks. It was a bright spot for the children during their holiday break.
Another way that I.N. Network fights child hunger over Christmas break is through their Christmas Food for Families project. Donations are given to send home food baskets with the students that will feed them over break.
There is still time for you to participate in this effort to feed families during Christmas. Click here to give online to Food for Families.
“One of the things that I was reminded of as I went to the party [is] this: God is a god who loves children, who loves to enjoy His children.” We can pass on the love that God shows to us to others around the world. Please, this Christmas, pray for those that are seeking Christ and struggling to stay fed and sheltered.