“Pastor Stanish are you coming? … we are waiting,” said Charles Nshimiyamana as I picked up his phone call on the evening of Tuesday, December 12th. The occasion was the CFNA After- School Tutoring Christmas Party to be held that day at Epiphany Lutheran Church, Holly Hills.
The excitement was contagious as other New American kids also made sure they were picked up for the evening. By the end, over 30 American volunteers were joined by approximately 70 refugee kids from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Congo, Mexico, Nigeria, Nepal, Sudan, and Syria for the party, several of them of Muslim origin. Managed by CFNA volunteer tutor, Mrs. Jennifer Janssen, and the event registrar, Ms. Sandy Gerber, the kids enjoyed a special evening of games and art projects, as they celebrated the birthday of baby Jesus, complete with a beautiful birthday cake. Additionally, the meal graciously provided by the Trinity (Soulard) Women’s Bible Study group, facilitated engaging conversations between kids and their mentors gathered around numerous dining tables.
The meal and the games were followed by a dramatized version of the birth of Jesus provided by Pastor Michael Zeigler in the church sanctuary. After the close of the worship service, the students offered a loud and prolonged cheer of appreciation for their volunteer tutors. As the entire program drew to a close, the kids were invited to take Christmas gifts with them on their way home. In their own way, gifts serve as a reminder of God’s gift of His Son, Jesus.
For these gifts, CFNA thanks partners: Village Lutheran Church, Christ Memorial Lutheran Church, New Beginnings Lutheran Church, and Lutheran High School South who collectively provided the more than 140 gifts that were distributed. (See “Penny Drive” for the distribution of the LHSS gifts!) Likewise, CFNA celebrates and greatly appreciates the committed service of its volunteer tutors and drivers. Fifteen-year-old Maureen Kayesu from the Congo observed, “all these American friends are helping us with our studies and now with gifts for our families . . . thank you for Christians and Christmas.”
CFNA offers its gratitude to all who helped make this party such a special event!
Prepared by Pastor Stanish Stanley