Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pride for Parents: Our Advent Mission Focus

by Spencer Daniel


Our Advent Mission Focus this year is the Pride for Parents Store at The Encouraging Place in downtown Raleigh. The Pride for Parents Store accepts donations of new, unopened toys to then re-sell at low, affordable prices to families who would not usually be able to afford toys at Christmas. If you would like to participate, you can bring a new toy to the box in the lobby at Church of the Apostles. The deadline to drop off toys is Tuesday, December 17.

When Reggie Edwards, Executive Director of The Encouraging Place, called to tell me that she had the “perfect” service opportunity for me I thought that she was joking.  How can I run The Pride for Parents Christmas Store?  Last year I only served in the store by pricing and organizing the toys.  I had never seen the store in action.  But through prayer God led me to say, “Yes!”  And what a perfect service opportunity this has been for me!  I have seen God’s mighty hand in the store in so many ways.

One specific way that I have seen God’s work is through the faithful volunteers.  We have many of the same repeat volunteers shift after shift and day after day.  We have volunteers that are willing to offer their guidance and service to their community with happy servant hearts.  There are four women that stand out in my mind.  They are always early for their shifts (sometimes beating me there!) and stay to ensure that every last toy is priced and placed on the shelf.  They pray for the store before it opens, offer hugs and prayers for shoppers, and always have a smile on their faces.  I have been blessed by their words, hard work, and dedication to the store.  They are truly living out God’s plan and serving the store with a heart for God’s people.  They have been such an example for me, and everyone else at Pride for Parents, of how to treat everyone who walks through the door with the dignity and respect that they deserve.

I have also seen God’s hand in the shoppers that He brings to the store.  We had shoppers lined up and waiting on the first Thursday that we were open.  It was awesome confirmation to see them arrive after so much prayer that God would send them.  One particular story that stands out is a single mother with her two month old son.  She came on Friday with $2 to spend.  She bought four sets of clothes with her money.  Saturday she came back with $10 and bought her son two to three toys for Christmas (isn’t it every parent’s dream to provide Christmas presents for their child?).  As she was checking out we were talking about her son and her home life.  She admitted that she was in an abusive relationship with her son’s father, had recently lost her job, and was struggling to stay afloat.  Luckily, Reggie was standing close-by and we were able to introduce them and one of the volunteers prayed with her.  She’s been on my heart and my mind since and I know that God brought her to the store for a greater purpose.  This is just one example of how God is using the store to impact people’s lives in more ways than we can imagine.


The Pride for Parents Christmas Store has also been a huge blessing to me.  I have been able to see God’s work in action – in the people serving and shopping.  I am thankful for the opportunity to serve the people of Raleigh through The Pride for Parents Store.  And I am thankful that Reggie called me with the “perfect” service opportunity.    

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