Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Santa at St. Vincent's Hospital

Last weekend we had our 1st Santa visit to the NICU at St. Vincent's hospital in Birmingham. We had an amazing visit! It was almost surreal walking through St. Vincent's with the Birmingham volunteers. I'm still kind of in shock that God has opened the door in Birmingham and also in Huntsville. I probably shouldn't be shocked but when we started Footprints we had no idea the Lord would take it to other cities. And I just think this is a small glimpse of the HUGE things He has in store for us. The Lord is truly amazing and we give him ALL the glory for the great things he is doing in the Footprints Ministry! Birmingham has a wonderful dedicated group of volunteers. Below is a story from the associate pastor, Jack Hinnen, of Riverchase United Methodist Church, he was one of the elfs for our visit.

I recently had the opportunity to visit the NICU at St. Vincent’s hospital with an organization called Footprints. My part was minor; I simply dressed up as an elf and escorted Santa through the unit. This is not your typical Santa visit. The kids don’t holler and get excited when the big man with a red suit comes in. In fact, except for the occasional unhappy young one, our day in the NICU was incredibly quiet. But the lack of noise did not imply a lack of awareness or activity. The NICU can be a pretty intense place! In this hospital unit, every second, every look, and every moment is precious. There were families there who had been there weeks with no sure idea of when they’d be able to go home. There were grandparents there who had put jobs, families, and life on hold until their newest family members could be well. There are nurses and physicians who, like angels, flutter around restoring not just health but humanity to the smallest babies and the most anxious parents. It is into this place that we brought a bit of Christmas Spirit.

As a pastor, I live for times when people reach out to one anther. But Footprints is about meeting people where they are and ministering to them, in even the most hard to reach places not in the name of Santa, but in the name of Jesus. What Footprints offered was a chance to bring people out of the timeless and unending watching of the NICU and remind them that they are not alone. Christmas, the story of the birth of another baby, could reach them even in the NICU. I felt my heart lifted to know that a prayer, a stocking full of supplies, and a picture with a jolly fat man could be brought into as solemn place as the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and connect with those with heavy hearts. Like I said, my part was minor, but I felt God moving in that place. Jesus says a thing or two about reaching out to the least of these. In the NICU that day, we saw some of the smallest, most precious, people we could possibly meet. And it made my Christmas.

Jack Hinnen
Associate Pastor Riverchase United Methodist Church

Thank you so much to all of the volunteers who helped with the 1st Santa visit at St. Vincent's! We are so excited about the future plans for Footprints in Birmingham!
Thank you Matt and Nicole Collier, Alison Baggett, Cindy Davis, Ben and Lurenda Avery, Jack and Cheryl Hinnen, and Glenn Wilson.
"God knows how often I pray for you. Day and night I bring you and your needs in prayer to God, whom I serve with all my heart by spreading the Good News about his Son." Romans 1:9