Hey everyone, I know the economy is rough this year and with me losing my job in June, trust me I understand how tight it is. But I just wanted to share with you an awesome ministry I participate in and offer up the opportunity for anyone who would like to also contribute.
The name of the organization is the MAX. It's run out of Lawrenceville and it is a program that reaches out to children in poverty stricken neighborhoods where there is gang activity, drug activity, and prostitution to name a few. Pastor Felica Scales started the program in 1999 out of the trunk of her car as an after-school program. The first day, she had 3 students attend. The second day, 15. By the end of the month, she had over 100 students attending on a daily basis. Now, she runs the program with a team that ministers to several hundred children throughout our community. These children would otherwise be in gangs, dropping out of school to work or sell drugs, or getting involved in teen pregnancy. All of these things would keep them from coming to the MAX's programs, so by being at the meetings, they make a promise they will be above the issues that have troubled their family and peers. This year is an especially important year because 4 students that were in the program the first year as second graders will be graduating this year and they will all 4 be the first students to EVER graduate highschool in their families. This is a really big deal for our community.
Now that I've kind of explained the program, let me share what we are doing for Christmas. What we do is, any person the age of 0-17 is eligible for the ChristMAX program, but they have to meet certain requirements. If they are school-age, they must be passing all classes and have at least a C average, they must be attending the MAX sessions regularly and they must meet the regular requirements to be at the MAX (aka in school, no drugs or gangs, etc). The first year we did ChristMAX (about 6 years ago) we had 15 people in the program. Now we have well over 300. Plus, we will have an additional 100+ people show up the day of our ChristMAX party and we don't want anyone to go away empty-handed.
Every child that meets the prerequisites, fills out a form and has their picture taken and they go up for "adoption." DH and I always choose a little boy close to Anakin's age so we can double purchase everything since all 2 year olds like the same stuff, right? When you adopt the child, you receive a description of their interests, favorite colors, favorite superheros, etc so you get a good idea of what they like. The program asks that you spend about $50 on each child, according to what they've asked for, but whatever you can give is of course appreciated.
I just want to share one story of the very first ChristMAX I went to. There was a student there named Francisco and he was one of 6 children at the time (now he has 11 siblings). His father was incredibly abusive and would not let any of the children leave the yard or let his mother even leave the house to do shopping. If he caught Francisco coming to the MAX after school, he would receive a horrible beating. Francisco showed up consistently, sneaking out of the house, risking his own welfare to be in the program. When ChristMAX season came around, a family at our church requested a specific age boy so they could supplement their gifts with some clothes from their son who had a growth spurt and missed a whole season of clothes they bought him. At that time, we let students request specific toys (which we don't do anymore) and on Francisco's sheet, he requested a PS2, and the family graciously provided this with a few games and a few outfits. When the gift came in, all of us on the team weren't sure what to do. We ask that you spend $50, this was obviously too much and could cause some issues with the whole program. Felica prayed about it over and over and finally decided that the gift was a gift, and not hers to decide. On the day that the packages are handed out (about a week before Christmas), we allow each child to open one gift. Francisco opened the smallest package in his bag, and it ended up being a PS2 game. He instantly broke into tears and I went to Felica to tell her. Felica looked out into the crowd of 200 people and spotted Francisco right away. He sat at his Christmas bag, heart broken, with tears streaming down his face. When she went to speak with him, he looked up at her and said "Pastor Felica, I can't use this gift." Of course, she instantly dug to the bottom of the bag and let him open the PS2 and he was thrilled with joy. But that is not the wonderful part of the story. When Francisco took the present home, and his father saw what someone who didn't even know him gave him, he stopped beating his children. He stopped controlling his wife. He let all the kids attend the MAX. This single gift, changed the life of a hurt, and hardened man and his family, and his community.
This year, Francisco is a junior in high school and is well on his way to graduating next year. His mom now has her driver's license and is able to do her own shopping. And 7 of Francisco's siblings attend the MAX, the other 4 will be attending as soon as they are school-aged.
I just wanted to share this awesome program I'm involved in with everyone. If you are interested in adopting a child, please let me know, or you can contact Pastor Felica at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website http://themaxonline.org/
If you are interested, you can let me know what age and gender you would like and I can email you a picture and form with the child's sizes, interests, etc. We have had a lot of students adopted already but we still have a lot to go. All gifts are due by 11/30, so if you would like to adopt, please let me know right away.
Thanks for taking the time to read this incredibly long post. I just wanted to share this deep passion of mine with you guys. I've had a few people already ask me about it, so I thought maybe more of you might be interested in making an impact in a local child's family this year.