By Rev. J. Wayne Clark

President and CEO, United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas

The Christmas season is certainly one filled with light – candlelight, Christmas tree lights, luminaries. It’s one of my favorite times of the year for many reasons, and the twinkling lights of advent are just one.

Advent is a time of expectation, waiting and preparation, both for the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, as well as His Second Coming. In today’s terms, we consider advent a time of preparation, too, but for gift buying, meal planning, family and work events. While I think in these terms as well, I also like to remember that advent is a time for children and the hope they bring us in renewal and hope.

In fact, James told us in James 1:17 that every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. I believe children are just that – good and perfect gifts from our Father, and ones to cherish and nurture. However, there are some children in our communities who aren’t loved in this way. They are neglected, abandoned, abused. Instead of being considered blessings, they are viewed as burdens and treated as such.

The good news is our state’s United Methodists have a resource for these children. Methodist Family Health has helped rebuild the lives of Arkansas children and families since 1899, and they provide a family, home and spiritual nourishment to our children who need it so badly. Whether a child has a psychiatric, behavioral, emotional or spiritual issue, or his or her family can’t or won’t care for him or her as the gift God intended, Methodist Family Health can provide him or her the compassion, hope and therapy so desperately needed.

As you make plans this season to provide gifts for the children in your life, would you also plan to give a gift to a child in need at Methodist Family Health? Every amount makes a significant, positive impact. In fact, your monetary contributions provide everything children served at Methodist Family Health need, including personal hygiene items, clothes, bedding, Bibles and spiritual study guides, and so much more.

I will be sharing a gift with Methodist Family Health this season, and I hope you will share your light of hope, peace and stability with the Arkansas children and families in such need. There are several convenient ways you can do so. First, make a contribution to the Methodist Family Health Foundation and place it in the offering plate at church. Your church will take up these donations and send them to Methodist Family Health on your behalf.

You also can mail a check to Methodist Family Health at P.O. Box 56050, Little Rock, Arkansas 72215. If you would prefer to make a gift over the phone, you can call 501-906-4209 to use your debit or credit card, or text GIVE to 501-881-2258 to contribute by your smartphone. You also can contribute online by visiting https://www.methodistfamily.org/donate.html and completing the form.

However you choose to share your light, please know it shines on and brightens the lives of those in our communities who need to know God’s love. Thank you for being the light in this world.