Christmas in July: Oregon Church Spreads Cheer at this Time of Year
By Carl Stagner
Neither Hobby Lobby nor Hallmark came up with it, and it doesn’t have anything to do with popular Bing Crosby songs, hot and humid summertime daydreams of frosted windowpanes, or even gifts wrapped in pretty paper and colorful bows. Christmas in July, based in Reedsport, Oregon, is “a group of local volunteers helping our neighbors with minor home repair projects, including landscape cleanup, yard debris removal, drywall repair, gutter cleaning, siding repair, and door replacement.” Operating through Reedsport Church of God, the organization is made up of willing hearts across the community, dedicated to making their hometown a better place to live.
“A large portion of our church either is in leadership with Christmas in July or volunteers on some level,” Pastor Justin Linseisen explains. “Our church is the umbrella 501c3 for Christmas in July. Although it funnels through our church, Christmas in July is made up of community members, some connected to our church, some connected to other churches in town, and still others not connected to a church at all. I believe that Christmas in July is a wonderful picture of the body of Christ coming together in unity for the betterment of the place and people God has planted us in.”
The ministry is more than a provocative name; it symbolizes an effort of peace and goodwill to all, regardless of the season. Too often, neighbors remain in need of a helping hand while those who could do something are simply unaware of the problem. Through Christmas in July, Reedsport Church of God, alongside likeminded individuals from the community, invite people to apply for themselves or loved ones in need, offering access to necessary repairs and improvements. Wheelchair access, safety bars, handrails, walking ramps, and steps are therefore among the gifts given in the never-ending spirit of the Jesus who relinquished the splendor of heaven to serve.
“One of the core values of our church is practical compassion,” Justin explains. “We believe God has called us to be problem-solvers, to the best of our ability, in our community and world. We desire to be a church always looking to practically share the love and care of Jesus to our community. Christmas in July is a group of men and women, followers of Jesus and some who are not, who seek to be neighbors helping neighbors. We partner with Christmas in July because it is a win-win, and it fulfills our value of practical compassion, and is a part of our mission of connecting people to Jesus and one another.”
Of course, the spirit of Christmas never has to cease until the season comes ’round again. Reedsport Church of God understands this, and sees such sentiment reflected in the ongoing efforts of Christmas in July.
“The motivation for our partnership with Christmas in July is to be Jesus people who put our faith into action—who are the hands and feet of Christ to Reedsport!” Pastor Justin concludes. “We want to love, care for, and serve our neighbors in the name of Christ, even if they never darken the doorway of our church. We believe that we take the light of Jesus into every place and home we go, and that is powerful! God can use our presence, our small home repairs, our smiles, our listening ears, and our actions to work in people’s lives and hearts for his glory. We want to be a part of that!”
Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.
Feature (top) photo: Christmas in July volunteers celebrate the completion of a ramp for a neighbor.