Encouraging speeches and music performances were filling the place on the evening of the 14th December 2019 from the stage of the Greatest Gift Festival. The guests of the event hosted at the Waagnatie-Expo, vulnerable people from Antwerp, received it with appreciation and applause. Different teams of volunteers prepared and served snacks and colourful dishes keeping at pace with the programme. Lots of tombola prizes were catching the eye at the feet of the podium causing a rewarding anticipation towards the end of this beautiful, live Christmas story. Many people came to express their gratitude, some even with tears in their eyes.
The children location was transformed to a paradise. The youngest among the guests were received in a full-value programme with interactive animation and a Bible story, all displayed in a very original way. The kids enjoyed the bouncy castles and benefited of the artistic skills of volunteers who pleasantly transformed their looks with the face-painting.
It is by the joint efforts of all those who gave and helped with a big heart, that the event could take place. Some gave big gifts and others small ones but all of them together made it possible for the less fortunate people to go home with a feeling of acceptance and much appreciation. To you all, on their behalf and from us, a BIG THANKS!
Mina A., an Afghan volunteer who came to help fr the first time with a team from Ghent, passed on her impressions of the evening in the following sentences:
“People from Evangelical churches came from all over Flanders to join hands for the Greatest Gift Festival. No matter what nationality or what background, what age, or the language we spoke, we all understood each other because we communicated in the language that the child Jesus, born in the stable, spoke; the language of love!
Everyone did his job faithfully and with joy, from setting up the stage, decorating the hall to cooking the food and washing the dishes in the kitchen. Thanks to the power of unity, we were able to provide more than 1000 people with a wonderful, cosy Christmas feast.
The guests were received at 5 pm with a big, free hug at the entrance. The smiling faces of the guests spoke volumes of books…
“I consider you my sisters,” said one of the Muslim women with whom we spoke. An Iranian guest told us how special it was for him . While the people could relax and enjoy the programme, they were served with a delicious meal. Nobody lacked anything but all could fully participate in everything. ”
Not only from within but also through the eyes of outsiders, the whole event was an incredible story.
Louis V. came from Brussels to film. As soon as he heard about the initiative, he quickly contacted the organisers and asked permission to include the event in his thesis for school about faith and society. The silent young man expressed his impression of the unusual love obvious in the way people interacted.
ATV came also to film contacted by the manager of Waagnatie-Expo, who was himself touched by the initiative. While the man with the camera was guided through the hall by one of the regular volunteers, he was deeply touched and he said; “If I had known this I would have come in previous years; this is just fantastic!”
The Greatest Gift Festival is an initiative of Koinonia and Gospel Palace in collaboration with Evangelical churches from Antwerp.