Sunday 12/13/09 at the River at Tampa Bay Church was an amazing day. For my husband and I and a few others the day started at 6AM as we arrived early to make final preparations for the local community outreach. 1600 toys and 800 boxes of food stood in preparation as the wee hours of the morning slipped by.
By 7AM many others had arrived as the day’s festivities were set to begin. Bus Captains, Co-Captains, Van Drivers, and Bus Drivers all arrived to receive final instructions before the fleet of 8 buses and 4 vans left to pick up people from all over the city. For many weeks now River church members have been knocking on doors, holding community meetings and passing out flyers to announce the Christmas Outreach. Within 30 minutes after the buses left, Bus Captains began calling stating their buses were filling up fast. Several buses filled up by the 3rd and 4th stop. In addition many visitors began arriving 2 hours early in their own vehicles. All of these signs indicating our grass-roots marketing blitz paid off. Before we knew it, it was time for service to start. Buses and vans rolled in. Families were met by teams of friendly volunteers, all ready to assist and escort the guests as needed. Church Service began.
Teams of volunteers continued working outside to ensure smooth sailing for all of the services being offered to visitors and church members alike. After delivering a solid word based message Pastor Rodney began the altar call. As the invitation was made to receive Jesus, swarms of people got up and crowded the altar. As usual the altar calls at The River are breath-taking but most importantly they are always fueled by the Holy Spirit. Lives were changed right before our eyes as the Holy Spirit began touching hearts. Tears flowed, and echos of cries were heard all signifying God was at work.
After church everyone headed outside for the food and toy giveaway. The children were thrilled as they received toys such at Tonka Trucks, baby dolls, actions figures, jewelry sets etc. No cheap toys were given only the best toys were made ready. Then the families headed to receive their box of groceries filled with cereal, chunky soup, tuna, vegetables candy, juice, pasta and much more. In the end over 300 men, woman and children gave their heart to Jesus, and that is what this outreach was all about.