photo credit to Rachel Lusky at www.rluskyphoto.com
If a picture is worth a thousand words then this picture taken on the third day after our recent Operation Christmas Child packing party and just a little over a week after Franklin Graham's Rock The Lakes Erie festival has already made this blog too long.
For several years leading up to Rock The Lakes God has been hearing from His people in Erie. We've been crying out for change in our city and for revival. Meanwhile, the poverty rate in our county continues to climb and incidents of gun violence have escalated.
In spite of the bad news that fills our area, it was thrilling on Saturday, September 27th, to have our main arena filled, the overflow theater filled, and another hundred or so folks beyond that moved to the local baseball arena--probably 10,000 or so people to hear the good news of Jesus. All told--throughout the preparatory training sessions and the nights of the festival--there were more than two thousand people who made a decision for Christ.
Will these decisions change our city? They should. They must. Because there isn't any other hope.
And just a week later on October 4th, despite a myriad of challenges, God allowed us to pack 22,647 Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes.
Seeing that rainbow over our city on October 7th was a reminder that God will continue to keep His promises--for our city, our country, and our lost world.
And now, nearly two weeks later, I'm claiming still the promise of that rainbow.
Since the packing party I've been packing some boxes at home--88 so far. But I just did the calculations and realize I still need to pack 368 more boxes just to get to the number I did last year between the major packing party and several smaller packing parties. So much work just to equal last year with no growth.
And that's only part of the challenge.
Last year we collected 47,604 boxes here in our Northwestern PA area. This year our goal is 55,700 (a huge 17% increase) and we've been praying for that all year.
The relay center in Seneca, PA will be taking their 2,000+ boxes to a new collection center outside our area this year, and several folks who pack larger numbers of shoe boxes are struggling this year.
Humanly speaking, we don't have any hope of reaching this goal. Still, I see this rainbow and I remember...