Culture -

The cause and Christmas to remember —

By Becca Haines

It’s always a culture of fun at CIY, but I should have known the energy at our Christmas party was going to be magnified times 10.

It was quite a sight to see MOVE Operations Director Ben Platt in a fuzzy Grinch suit, and to hear a roaring crowd gathered around exciting bouts of Nog Pong. It didn’t surprise me to hear MIX Program Administrator Mallory Jenkins’ scream as her character was knocked out in a Smash Brothers duel. I laughed with everyone else at her hilarious antics. As usual, the halls of CIY were filled with fun.


But more than the fun that year, my heart exploded when I heard CIY was going to give to some local families with that same, intense level of energy and love.


Part of the CIY Christmas Party experience in 2018 was the opportunity for staff members to donate funds to six foster families in the Joplin, Missouri area. Not only does adoption paint the perfect picture of the Gospel message, foster care was a topic close to hearts that season. The next CIY film project was to be called “Hard to Place,” and was set to highlight foster care for CIY audiences when released during the summer of 2019.


“Next summer, our programs will explore the topic of caring for others in the context of reaching out and playing a role in the fostering process,” said John Luzadder, senior director for summer programs. “To jumpstart this focus, we decided to reach out to local families and provide a Christmas experience of their choosing with the intent for them to have life-building conversations as a family.”


I felt the same way as Eric Epperson – CIY’s vice president of storytelling – when he said it’s a beautiful testimony to see the people who present Kingdom worker challenges to students every summer take hold of those same values in their own lives and put their faith into action.


“I love that the causes CIY puts forth on stage work on our own hearts and lives first,” he said. “Years ago CIY worked with Active Water, and when we raised money for digging wells in Zambia it changed the way we looked at the water crisis and how we use our resources. Foster care is a cause where not everyone is called to foster but everyone is called to care. It’s not just a program we put on, it’s what we want to live out in our lives. It begs us to ask, ‘What can we do?’ I love that we gave foster families in our community an opportunity to do something special and have an experience. CIY creates experiences ¬– and by that extension – I feel our gift in giving was spot on. I’m extremely proud of the way our group rose to that challenge.”


I absolutely love the way Christmas parties bring us closer together in the spirit of fun, but it’s a whole new level of closeness to know you share the same Holy Spirit in your heart. I’m grateful for a merry band of brothers and sisters in Christ who want to love God’s people and share the hope and joy of His Son, Jesus. I hope you find the same closeness in your community of Christ-followers because that’s what the Church is about … That’s the fun and loving spirit of Christmas.