Pastor Mark Lydecker of the Living Faith Christian Church in Farmingdale, has been helping charitable organizations around the world for years—reaching out across borders, giving back in many different ways.
On Oct. 12, the Living Faith Christian Church held its annual Samaritan’s Purse Shoebox Drive, a special fundraiser that helps children overseas who are in need by utilizing shoeboxes and filling them with presents. This year, the church passed out wrapped shoeboxes in the community before the event, with each one marked for a boy or a girl.
Samaritan’s Purse provides spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, it has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love.
“Last year we collected about 855 filled shoeboxes,” Lydecker said. “However, this year, our congregation has grown in size and we’re hoping we will double that number once the final tally is in.”
According to Lydecker, part of the church’s vision is try and give back to the community in every way possible.
“From socks to small toys, we always ask that the gifts are new,” Lydecker added. “Gloves and hats make great gifts. For many of the children it will be the only thing to keep them warm through the winter months.”
Lydecker came to the Living Faith Church in Farmingdale last year, and immediately felt enriched and fulfilled when a young man named Julio Jimenez told him that he received a special shoebox while living in the Dominican Republic.
Today, Jimenez attends Farmingdale State College as part of an exchange program, where he is studying telecommunications,technology and security systems.
“The day I got my shoebox I was at church and we were more than 100 kids,” Jimenez said. “Everyone was anxious and excited to see what those shoeboxes had inside. My shoebox contained a ruler, pencils, coloring book, yoyo, and a pair of Oakley sunglasses. I was extremely happy, even though my friends got Nintendo gameboys and things like that. It was a great experience to receive a gift from someone you don’t know. I thank God for those people who sent the shoeboxes; they brought happiness to the children living in poor countries around the world.”
Before this year’s shoebox drive, Lydecker said he traveled to Haiti with 20 members of his congregation, where they prepared foundations for new houses. “We also helped build 15 church pews and school benches and then painted the entire inside of a church,” he said. “We held a Vacation Bible School event for children, and visited two different orphanages where we distributed food to 600 families in need.” Overall, The Living Faith Church of Farmingdale donated $6,000 to the cause in Haiti.
“We give 10 percent of offerings from our church back to help children around the world,” Lydecker said.“That’s about $275,000 per year for mission work.”