On December 8, 2001, Pastor Danny Owensby and the Living Word Ministries partnered with Operation Compassion for “Merry Christmas Birmingham”. The Ministry is located in west Birmingam among the lowest income families in this area of Alabama. In addition to the toys, stocking stuffers, snacks and candy, the congregation raised funds to purchase additional big ticket items such as bicycles and trains.
Time after time, when it appeared that their shopping was done another name would be submitted. Of course, every name was representative of a severe situation. The people of Living Word did not worry or fret, they just kept raising money, buying toys and relying on God to supply every request given. To their amazement, there was more than enough to take care of each family when they arrived for the big event.
The uniqueness of this event was in the fore thought of Robert and Tammy James, Benevolence Director for Living Word Ministries. Instead of the usual give away with children and parents in the same place. Tammy divided them. The children went into an area where a mini Kid’s Krusade was taking place. The children were occupied while the parents were in another area receiving fifty-pound food boxes in addition to all the toys and snacks. It was during this time when the drawings for the large toys were done. The parents had a chance to take all the toys to the car before the children saw them thus preserving the secrecy until Christmas Day.
During the preparation of their event, story after story were relayed to the church about how children would go without any toys on Christmas. One such story involved a young man wanted to receive a bicycle. As the parent related the story, not only would there not be a bike but no toys at all. There just was not any money left after paying all the bills. When it came time to draw his name, the church had a brand new ten-speed bike for his parent to take home for Christmas day!
A young widow and her son came to the church seeking assistance for Christmas. Only two months earlier had they lost their husband and father. The young widow was attending school but had to drop out to find a job to support them. She was still unemployed and desperate for any help. The only request from the son was for a train. When his name was drawn, a rather elaborate train was given to his mother for Christmas day.
On that single day, Living Word Ministries, gave 288 children eleven toys each plus thirty-five grand prizes were drawn. They also distributed fifty-pound food boxes, stocking stuffers, snacks, candy and soft drinks to 150 families. However, rewarding this is, the greatest fact was that fifty-six people rededicated or received Christ into their lives.
The impact of that single day is still being felt two months later. Living Word Ministries has started a full service Benevolence Ministry serving twenty-five families from their Christmas contact, seven church families and sixteen senior adults. Each month the Benevolence Ministry gives food, clothing, furniture, emergency assistance and yard work for the senior adults. Recently, a tutoring program and Sidewalk Sunday School has been added. Summing up her motivation for Benevolence Ministry, Tammy said, “God is faithful. If we care for the widows, the orphans and the poor, He will provide.”
Anyone interested in donating finances or products or providing a corporate lead may contact:
David Lorency, President
114 Stuart Road, NE
Cleveland, TN 37312
423.728.3932 – Office
423.596.4200 – Fax