October 31 is problematic for churches. Historically, it was All Hallow’s Evening but it has become Halloween. It used to be a night that opened the way for a holy day, but now it is a commercial boon with hints and overtones of the unholy. It has gone from a period of remembering loved ones in Christ who have died to being a day when some even celebrate serial killers. It’s a problem to say the least.
Many Christians have struggled with how to respond to this day of tricks and treats. Should we leave the porch light on? Is it ok for us to dress up in costumes? Much like the early church’s struggle over issues of eating meat that may or may not have been sacrificed to an idol, special days of commemoration, circumcision, and other issues of debate (Romans 14, 1 Corinthians 8, Colossians 2:16-23) choosing to participate in costumes, candies, and carnivals is a matter of conscience.
We chose to engage rather than retreat from our neighbors on this day. Through a project led by our Spanish Ministry Team, we invited friends, neighbors, coworkers, school friends, and strangers to come to the church’s building. We had games, candy, and free food. We took advantage of the evening to help others experience the warmth of Christ instead of the coldness of our world. We elected to invite people to our facility rather than keep the doors closed.
As a result, 40 new families came to our property for the first time. We were also able to help at least five people who were not a part of New Vida find a way to exercise their gifts and/or ability to serve as these five joined in to help give out food, drinks, or candy. Some may be surprised to see 10 teens were serving others instead of just collecting candy for themselves.95 people affiliated with New Vida showed up; most had invited a friend. All in all, we estimated there were at least 300 people who experienced Iluminar la noche.
A big thank you goes to our Spanish Ministry Team for living out the value of being a warm and inviting atmosphere for people to explore the faith.
Oh! Before you get caught into thinking that Iluminar la noche was something that involved only our Spanish Ministry Team, you should look at some of the pictures. Our English Ministry Team members joined in too. Iluminar la noche served to light the night in many ways, including our ability to work together.