Christmas Newsletter 2016
Christmas Devotional and Thank You
As we approach another Christmas Day having planned another meal and wrapped another pile of gifts, there is a tendency to allow the message of Christmas to fade. Even worse, the Christmas message maybe lost completely in the hustle and bustle.
I had the joy of sharing the Christmas message at the homeless shelter in Winchester this month. The message was presented from the perspective of the Angels and the words they shared at that first Christmas season are enduring:
‘The Lord is God’ was the proclamation of the heavenly host when they sang Glory to God in the Highest.
‘The Lord is near’ was the gentle whisper to Mary as she was told of how she had been chosen to give birth to the Son of the Most High.
‘The Lord hears’ was the comforting message given to Zechariah as he learned that Elizabeth, his aging wife, would also give birth to a son who would be called prophet of the Most High.
I never cease to be stirred by the people I meet and the stories they share when I visit the homeless shelter. This Christmas was no different. I met a young loving mom with two children, a young man who had lost his way and an elderly man who found he had nowhere to turn. As I listened to their stories, often feeling helpless to intervene, I was assured and reassured that the timeless message of Christmas reaches beyond our circumstances and is the same today as it was when the Angels first announced His coming: The Lord is God, The Lord is near and the Lord hears.
We ask those that support Tree of Life to pray, give or volunteer. If you have responded to that request in a small or significant way this past year, you have been used of God to see His Kingdom come on earth as it surely is in heaven. The Angels announced the birth of Jesus, Son of the Most High. Our task is to make Him known as we ‘reach out to the poor and needy in our community with the love of Jesus Christ’.
For everything you do to this end, please accept my deepest gratitude and thanks as we labor together to see His Kingdom come. Glory to God in the highest.
Christmas greetings and every blessing for the coming year.
Tree of Life Ministries
Merry Christmas and Christ is King! That’s my merry shout-out to the Tree of Life community as we enter the season of Advent and begin to reflect both on what we’ve accomplished this year, and anticipate new beginnings for next year. While those things are happening in many organizations across our community, I want to use this space at this time to highlight one aspect of life here at Tree of Life that is so important to us. It is the life of prayer.
Prayer is interwoven in all of our activities here at Tree of Life. Our small staff here starts each week with an hour of sharing and prayer on Monday mornings. We make prayer a staple of every meeting and event at Tree of Life, including our visitation ministries to our partners. We pray for our partners and we ask them what they want us to pray for on their behalf. We have prayer teams in place and Richie, our partner care coordinator, feeds those teams with a steady diet of prayer requests. At the conclusion of all our community directed meetings we end by encouraging those interested to plug into Tree of Life, and we do so by indicating three basic ways to plug in: to pray for us, to volunteer for us, to support us financially. Prayer is obviously a priority at Tree of Life, why is that so?
It’s not because it’s easy to do. The busy world of activities distracts us. The self-centeredness of our fallen human nature deludes us into thinking we’re self-sufficient. And worldly powers centered around Satan and his followers deceive and confuse us by accusing us of being hypocrites and not worthy of being heard by God. All of this can affect our belief in prayer, which is why Jesus says to us “Oh you of little faith.”
No, it’s not easy to pray, it takes self-discipline, humility, and courage. At Tree of Life we know that this great and good God that we serve in serving others is also our loving Heavenly Father. So prayer is not a transaction, it is a relationship, with a personal God who created us in His image as persons. And He speaks to us in that personal relationship, as he has in the past to the great prophets, as he has in taking on our humanity in his Son, and as he has continued to speak through his Spirit as we engage in prayer. It should be no surprise that with a purpose of sharing the love of Jesus Christ throughout our community, Tree of Life and its volunteers and supporters would be in the relationship of prayer as much as possible to be filled with that communion of love. With all of our hard work and dedicated service I’m mindful of this quote from Samuel Chadwick: “The one concern of the devil is to keep the saints from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies or work or Christian activities. He laughs at our toil, mocks our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.” May we continue in this communion of love as we spread the love of Jesus Christ to the poor and needy in our community!
Director, Tree of Life, Purcellville Region
This holiday season I am honored to share a bit of my personal story in hopes that others may find encouragement and hope and above all else – thanksgiving that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior.
I first came to know about Tree of Life when I was having trouble making ends meet. Tree of Life was able to assist in providing financial and emotional support and food donations. While no child should ever have to face starvation, it is a wide-spread problem in our community. Tree of Life is also able to offer services to assist community members on the path to self-sustainability. They walk hand-in-hand with partners and open doors in all directions.
I am a victim of domestic violence and my children are abused children. I was able to leave my abusive home but since I share children with my abuser – we are unable to fully escape. This is something society does not realize and it is rarely talked about. Instead, victims of domestic violence in the context of divorce and custody disputes are blamed by the court system and the court system allows the violence to continue by not separating the children from the harmful parent.
The Department of Justice reports that when an abuser challenges a protective parent in court – 70% of the time the court awards custody to the abuser. This always results in harmful outcomes for the victims. This is our life and it is very real and there are so many ripple effects. There are so many problems to solve and once the momentum gets going in the wrong direction, it can be hard to stop.
Oftentimes the abuser has complete financial control preventing the victim to see a way out. Once she does, different problems develop. Court dates lead to loss in hours at work which result in decreased income and in some cases complete job loss. Attorney’s fees add up quickly. Basic needs such as safe housing, utility bills, and food are sometimes hard to meet. Tree of Life is able to provide support for those in need in these areas.
Facing these problems alone can be daunting. Keeping focus on the Face of God is important and Tree of Life is always there to help us keep trusting God in all things. Tree of Life was able to and continues to help me and my children stay safe by encouraging us to keep moving forward in a positive direction. We are able to see God’s blessings and promises come to life. It is my wish this holiday season that if you have a service or skill or feel like you have anything to offer – to contact them today and take ownership in the success of your community. Many blessings and peace to your family from ours!
We are now live and kicking with Christmas activity in all 3 regions – praise God!
Purcellville Region – Christmas for Others this year saw 100+ individuals blessed with Christmas toys and clothing. The gifts were distributed
by a wonderful team of volunteers led by Kathy Ruckman. In addition, 40 Christmas Shoeboxes (containing small gifts packaged by Lowers
Risk in Purcellville) were given to Carver Center seniors.
Leesburg Region – Led by Brian Lynch, 150 seniors at Heritage Hall were blessed with Christmas Shoeboxes (gifts again donated and packaged by Lowers Risk). In addition, a Christmas Pageant was held at the Tree of Life Center in Leesburg where the youth group from Bethel Presbyterian Church presented a Christmas message to needy people. Brian also coordinated a Christmas for Others distribution which involved packing and distributing over 200 toys and gifts. Some 50 children from Syria and Iran were blessed with Christmas toys.
Winchester Region – Toys, gifts and clothing were given to residents of the Salvation Army homeless shelter at the now annual Tree of Life Christmas Dinner. A delightful meal was prepared by a team led by Lu Klipple and Donna Gothard while Winchester Anglican Church led a time of Christmas carol singing. A gospel message was also given, pointing everyone to the Christ of Christmas.
All 3 regional events demand a huge effort and an ongoing collaboration with the Marines Toys for Tots program goes a long way to ensuring Tree of Life can bless many hundreds of people at this special season. Thank you to EVERYONE who gave of their time, talent and treasure.
Community Impact –Thanksgiving Together
For the second year in a row, Tree of Life Ministries and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church joined hands in hosting the 2016 Community Thanksgiving Together meal in Purcellville. Over 200 meals were served throughout the day to approximately 100 guests who came out to enjoy neighborly fellowship, lively music, God’s love, and a delicious Thanksgiving meal – complete with plenty of pie and apple cider. For those who could not make it to the event, including home-bound friends and first responders, over 110 meals were delivered by a dozen volunteers. Guests at the event included families, elderly folks who live alone, young people, empty nesters, those who live a long distance from family, and many from local group homes, as well as partners from Tree of Life who are blessed by our food pantry and/or enjoy our free Community Dinner on Thursday evenings.
A tremendous thank you goes to the almost 200 volunteers and supporters who contributed their time, talent, and treasure. Everyone from greeters, food servers and buffet line workers, to food drivers and clean-up crew, worked together from all parts of the community to share the love of Jesus with all who attended and make everyone feel welcome and appreciated. We’d also like to thank the many generous groups who provided their support to the meal by providing monetary or in-kind donations, including: Carver Center, Southern States, McLean Bible Church, Brooke Rentals, and Giant Food.
A beautiful and well attended Thanksgiving prayer service led by Fr. Tom Simmons and Paul Smith filled St. Peter’s sanctuary. It was a joy to pray together as a community, to give
all the Glory to God, and to hear many heart-felt Thanksgiving testimonies.
The Tree of Life Healthcare Branch teamed up with Purcellville’s Walgreens Pharmacy on October 15th to offer free flu vaccines to the residents of Main Street Commons. Volunteers Lynn Frost, Rebecca Edwards and Jessyca Rivas assisted with paper work, served donuts and juice, and shared information about Tree of Life’s ministries with those who attended. A special thanks to Walgreens for providing the vaccines and to pharmacist Jason Wilson who caringly administered them to even the more reluctant younger participants. Tree of Life is blessed to have local providers join us in keeping our partners healthy. The Healthcare Branch works with area dentists, an optometrist, and Inova Urgent Care to help those in need get emergency dental, vision and urgent care vouchers. Our RNs also offer wellness coaching, blood pressure screenings at community dinners and health education classes to those we serve.
A couple of days before Teen Clothing Closet Back to School Giveaway I contacted a friend of mine, a board member for Mobile Hope and a parent liaison for Douglass School in Leesburg. I wanted to see if she knew of any teens in need that would be blessed by visiting Tree of Life for clothes, school supplies , breakfast and some fellowship . She knew of a single mom with 4 daughters who were homeless, and going place to place and were out of options. I was blessed to meet her that morning and introduce her to a few leaders at Tree of Life . With help of Tree of Life, they were provided with clothes and were a part of helping her to get into an apartment. They had no beds, no furnishings or anything for the apartment, so my husband reached out to people on Facebook and there was an overwhelming response of donations. Beds, furniture , kitchen supplies and a few cash donations were made. My husband Peter drove around for 2 weeks with the Tree of Life trailer picking all these things up from Fairfax County and Loudoun County. We delivered these things to this sweet family over the following 2 weeks. They are praising the Lord and giving Him all the glory. They are trusting and believing that He will completely provide for them. We are blessed to know this sweet family and they now worship at Purcellville Baptist Church.
Reaching out Volunteer Highlight – Connie Franz
Connie began volunteering with the Tree of Life Food Pantry in May of 2014 and has been a tremendous blessing to the team. She has been a faithful volunteer, becoming more and more involved and putting in an increasing amount of hours each year. When our previous Food Pantry Ministry Leader had to step away in the spring of 2016, Connie stepped up and has been performing the duties of the Operations Manager and Ministry Leader throughout this past year. Connie donates her time and talent with countless volunteer hours, week-in and week-out, as she directs the incoming receiving of hundreds, sometimes thousands of pounds of food donations from numerous sources, the packaging of monthly groceries for our partners, all food pantry communications via by phone, text, and e-mail, as well as the administrative duties of the Food Pantry Ministry Leader. Her dedicated time and coordination efforts have allowed the food pantry to serve over 500 families and households this year. The Love of Christ that we share through this ministry would not be possible without her dedication.
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Tree of Life Center
210 N. 21st., Street., Unit D Purcellville, VA 20132
Monday - Thursday:
9:00 am - 2:00 pm
Tree of Life Center
850 Edwards Ferry Rd NE,
Leesburg, VA 20176
Tree of Life Center
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