Meeting Santa for the First Time Andrea Johnson January 20, 2014 Archive, From the Editor 1320 Font Size » Large | Small Many of you’ve been there, waiting in a long line with a toddler or two to get a picture with Santa Claus. You’re stretched to the limit, juggling the weight of their wiggling bodies along with the bags in your arms in an effort to keep your children by your side. Bright lights, colorful displays, and myriads of people clamor for their attention. You are tempted to forget the whole thing but, like most kids, they’ve looked forward to seeing Santa for months. Now imagine that your child has a sensory processing disorder and simply cannot handle the event. Our church, Journey Church of the Open Bible in Johnston, Iowa, hosted a Special Santa Event in December to make Santa more accessible for kids with special needs. Individual rooms were set up with simple, colorful backdrops for photographs, but without all the normal trappings that come with a Santa visit. Families were scheduled for their own individual times with Santa – no waiting in lines, no leering glances from others. I don’t know who was more excited about the event – the kids, their parents, or the volunteers! When I knelt down to talk with one little guy with Down syndrome he immediately reached out his arms and snuggled in for a big hug. As soon as we sat him on Santa’s lap, he nuzzled his sweet face into Santa’s round chest, as if he had just found his best friend. The mom of one ten-year-old with a sensory processing disorder was just one of the parents who thanked us profusely for hosting the event. It was the first time ever she had gotten a picture of her son with Santa. Before, the young man had always run away. We were not promoting Santa Claus – just using the big guy to help families celebrate their Savior’s birth. Lee Strobel’s booklet, The Case for Christmas, was provided to let them examine that birth more closely. James 4:17 says, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” By that standard, I’d say we should do anything we can do to help families like these. Like our little friends wanting to see Santa, too many people around the world have limited or no access to our Savior – no means of meeting the One who gave His life to offer them eternal life. Mission Venture Plan (MVP) provides us numerous opportunities to make that meeting a reality. We need to do everything in our power (actually in His power) to make that possible.