Tucked away in a quiet neighborhood in Abbotsford is a group of beautiful houses owned by four interconnected alumni families, including Bruce and SyIvia Friesen and their three daughters and their families: Cara Friesen (’15), Janelle Stauffer (Friesen, ’11) and husband Peter Stauffer (’12), and Jodi Warkentin (Friesen, ’05) with her husband James Warkentin (’07).
This Christmas, these four families have decided to open up their homes and invite the community to come and experience a Mt. Lehman Christmas Home Tour, happening on December 14th, 15th, 21st, and 22nd. This event is a first, but the families are excited to use what they have as an opportunity to raise support for the International Justice Mission and increase awareness for the work being done to rescue children from slavery.
How it all began
“This idea started when my mom dad and sister were at the IJM conference in Washington DC,” says Jodi. “It was a totally inspiring and heartbreaking weekend. They were challenged at that weekend to have a rescue party: get people together, tell them stories of what IJM is doing, and fund a rescue together.”
The challenge for all attendees was to use whatever they had. Jodi says when her family all got together to discuss this conference and what they could use, they realized their homes could be perfect.
“We’re a very close knit family and we’re literally neighbors,” says Jodi. “We live in this incredible neighborhood and have homes that are really charming. We’ve had over 20 hallmark movies filmed in our homes, most of them Christmas movies.”
Jodi says her family realized that they could use these homes to be a blessing to the community and to help host rescue parties to raise awareness for the International Justice Mission. They had a community potluck in the summer and invited all their neighbors to participate in the Christmas tour.
Altogether, there are six homes on the tour, each one decorated in a unique way to reflect the tradition of the family and with a specific focus on a rescue story that resonates with them. Guests will be invited to experience the unique decorations, delicious snacks, live music, and stories of rescue from around the world.
“It’s a unique flavor with each home,” says Jodi. “For example, in our home we’re going to tell the story of these boys rescued from the fishing industry. On Lake Volta in Ghana, boys are kept from school and forced to dive down and untangle fishing nets. We have four boys, so that story is really close to our hearts.”
Freedom at Christmas
“Slavery isn’t just an evil in the past. It’s still here today,” says Jodi, who hopes that by raising awareness they’ll be able to bring about freedom while also sharing the story of what Christmas is really about.
“We want people to experience the true spirit of Christmas, which isn’t just that this community loves each other, but that we’re also reaching out to bring freedom and justice to others,” says Jodi. “The gospel is at the heart of Christmas. That’s the powerful hope we have. When I think of what I’ve received—the freedom I have to work, live, and love, and especially the freedom I have been given spiritually—I have a desire for others to experience that freedom also.”
To learn more about this exciting home tour, or to buy tickets, please click here. All proceeds will go to supporting International Justice Mission.
Photo credit for above pictures, Jenni Marie Photography.