The 10th Anniversary of Operation Silent Night was a milestone by all occasions – a decade of serving the homeless on the streets brings forth an unspeakable joy!
Your prayers were answered in a mighty way as God held back the forecasted rain. We sent out an SOS, and watched His marvelous hand on an hour-by-hour basis as He changed the weather from 80% forecast to 0%! It was not until the last gift was given and the last drop of hot chocolate served and our team was back on the bus that the heavens opened with a torrential downpour! How we rejoiced in knowing that every one of the 200 backpacks contained a rain poncho that would protect our friends and their earthly possessions from being soaked!
We started our ministry by driving along the emptying streets in the dark and lonely night of Christmas Eve. As we found people sheltering in doorways and behind granite monuments we offered them food and blankets. On the morning of the 25th we headed for the city parks where the homeless congregate during the daylight hours.
One park, Franklin Square, is the largest public park in Metro DC and is covers nearly 5 acres of ground. Hundreds of homeless people live in this park which was littered with piles of wet blankets and clothing. If we watched closely we could see the large rats running around between park benches, looking for crumbs.
The city is in the process of closing this park by 2018 and turning it into a green oasis with children’s play area, yoga, coffee and ice cream shops, and other necessities for the city’s urban population. “Where will the current residents of this park go?” is the unspoken question mark hanging over everyone else’s head.
It was fitting that God marked this 10th year in a special way and He did just that when our photo was snapped by the country’s largest most circulated newspaper, The Washington Post! People are now Googling and we have received several message from folks wanting to learn more about what Sue Thomas Ministries is doing with Operation Silent Night!
In this feature photo in the Washington Post I am returning a ‘thumbs up’ to a man who was delighted with his new backpack.
In sign language, the ‘thumbs up’ is also the number ‘ten’! How appropriate that this very moment was captured on camera to mark our 10th year on the streets!
We also met several young deaf people who live on the streets and were able to sign with them as we gave them dry socks, rain ponchos, and warm food in the park.
We were blessed to see the title the reporter used for the news article. Feeding the Multitude. The 5 loaves and 2 fish that were given to the Lord were first blessed and broken by the hand of our Lord Jesus, and then given to the hungry multitude until they were satisfied. So it is with your gift. Blessed and broken by the very hand of the Creator of mankind, and the Savior of the world, your gift helped us to show His grace and love to a forgotten and hurting population.
This year’s outreach broke all records of previous years as 275 hot sandwiches, gallons of hot chocolate and a thousand giant Christmas Cookies were served.
The new addition of 200 OSN Backpacks to our gift list was the hit to the crowd…backpacks stuffed with new winter gloves, ponchos, socks, hats, scarves and hoodies promising warmth for the winter ahead. Each backpack held a hygiene pack of bar of soap, washcloth, toothbrush and paste and shampoo and lotion – there were even razors for the men! It was a joy to be able to reassure the line of people that there was no need to push and shove, but we had enough for everyone!
The 200 food bags of oranges, nuts, Slim Jims, apple sauce, pudding, crackers, potato chips, Chex Mix, fruit juice and candy for snacks in the days ahead were also placed in the backpacks thus our friends had their hands free to carry their new comforters and pillows. And in spite of the warm temperature we gave out piles of coats!
As we move into the new year we are already making plans for our annual fundraising dinner which is held in Hartville, Ohio in February. Next year we want to reach twice as many people but we cannot do it alone. You are the mighty army behind the scenes that upholds us in prayer and through your gift. Your gift enables us to share about the One who is the greatest Gift.
Yes, the greatest Gift in the entire world was given as Almighty God took on flesh and came to us, just a tiny babe born on a quiet night in a dirty barn. He knows what it is to be poor, forgotten, despised and rejected. He humbled Himself and walked among wretched sinners, all for the purpose being able to have a personal relationship with us. You were on His heart not only when He came to earth as that baby, but when He took our wretchedness upon Himself and bore the anger of God on that cross that we might have His comfort and joy! As you partner with us, our goal with Operation Silent Night is to share that comfort and joy.
A friend shared this with us and it is so profound I must share it with you.
“With God dwells joy, and down from God it comes, seizing mind, soul, and body: and where this joy has grasped a human being, it spreads, it carries away, it bursts through closed doors.” D Bonhoffer.
May you know this joy that surpasses all understanding, all imagination, all your wildest dreams as you reflect on the One who is the Greatest Gift this season!