FLUSHING, MI – Christ-Care at Christmas has been a long time ministry of Westside Church in Flushing, MI. It began in the early 1990’s and has grown into a partnership between six of local schools and Westside Church. Each year in November the school counselors begin to refer families that are struggling and may not have any presents for Christmas. Erv and Irene Willingham, the Christ-Care Coordinators, shop all year, buying sale items and stockpiling them for Christmas time.
In early December, the church’s entire children’s area is turned into a department store. We have a boys department, girls department, along with teen and adult clothing rooms, as well as a large toy room. Appointments are made for each family to meet with volunteers from the church and take them through the store shopping. After they get all the clothes and toys picked out, they go into the wrapping room where several more volunteers assist with wrapping the presents and taking them to their cars.
Pastor of Westside Church, Ed Emmerling says, “It is such a blessing to see the look on peoples faces and how empowered they feel as they get to pick out the presents their kids will receive.” Volunteers share how blessed they are to participate in this ministry, and they come back year after year. Emerling adds, “The goal when we started this ministry is still the same today: We want people to feel the love of Christ as we celebrate together the birth of the One who was born to die for their sins and ours.”
Over the years Westside has helped more than 1,500 families and each year they share the love of God, and the hope of the Gospel, in a tangible way through the Christ-Care at Christmas ministry that God has led, provided for, and blessed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ed Emmerling has been the Pastor of Westside Church since 2002 which was started by his grandfather in 1955, and is the church he attended from nursery to adulthood. He pursues his personal mission statement which says, “Using my strength of casting vision and inspiring others I will be a part of a team in developing innovative and new ministries to impact people with the love of God and the Word of God to help them take their next step toward Christ.”