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Being Aware of Need
As thanksgiving and Christmas nears, many of us find ourselves so thankful for all the blessings we have in our lives. But of course we should always be aware that there are many who are in circumstances not as fortunate as ours. There are many, even living right among us who are growing up in broken homes, who are unable to spend time with their parents, and sometimes unable to afford the luxuries of Christmas gifts.
A Christian organization started by Chuck Colson, Prison Fellowship holds a program called “Angel Tree” during the holidays to help share the love of God to families with parents in prison. Many of the children in these families do not get to celebrate Christmas with their mother or father who are in prison. 1.7 million children this Christmas will have a parent in prison. Here is a description of Angel Tree straight from their website:
Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree is a ministry that reaches out to the children of inmates and their families with the love of Christ. Through partnerships with churches across the nation, we connect parents in prison with their children through the delivery of Christmas gifts. The kids receive a message of love from their parents along with the Gospel message of the true meaning of Christmas—Jesus Christ!
Prison fellowship was found in 1976 by Chuck Colson. It is the world’s largest outreach to prisoners with the mission to seek the transformation of prisoners and their reconciliation to God, family and community through the power and truth of Jesus Christ. Angel Tree was formed to help maintain the fragile bond between a parent who made a serious mistake, and his or her innocent children. It gives the parent a chance to show concrete love to their children and a chance for the family to experience the love of God.
An Angel Tree Story
Check out this sweet Angel Tree story: [from breakpoint.org]
In Gastonia, North Carolina last Christmas, 14-year-old Joshua Moore was sitting in a car, crying-not for himself, but for other children.
Joshua, his dad, Paul Moore, and his dad’s friend, Todd Gilreath, were delivering Angel Tree gifts to 25 different children on behalf of their incarcerated parents.
They were now about to visit a child living on what Paul Moore calls “the hardest street in Gastonia.”
When Paul, Todd and Joshua arrived at the house and knocked on the door, they found eight children inside. In a corner was a tree the kids had cut down from the woods. There were no presents beneath it.
The mother explained that each of the eight children had a different father. The father of only one of them-a ten-year-old boy–was actually in prison. Joshua handed him his Angel Tree gifts.
But he couldn’t help noticing the sadness on the faces of the other seven children. That’s when he went out to his dad’s car and began to cry.
But God works in mysterious ways. Just the day before, an auction house had donated a great many new toys to the prison ministry. “Use the toys anywhere they’re needed,” Paul, Joshua’s father, was told. He had put the toys into seven bags according to gender-three bags for girls, and four for boys.
These were exactly the genders of the children who had not received gifts at the home they’d just visited. And the bags were now in the back of their car.
“All we have to do,” Joshua’s dad said, “Is go home and put some batteries in the toys.” So, that’s just what they did. And then they returned to the home and knocked on the door again. I will leave it to you to imagine the screams of joy over those unexpected presents.
When Joshua’s father, Paul, went home and told his sister about the kids, she lost no time in taking them some food. This year, Joshua’s family plans to take Angel Tree gifts to nearly 300 children. They’re going to bring a few extra gifts just in case they encounter a similar situation to last year’s. But don’t even think of giving them credit for caring. The Lord provided the gifts through His servants, Paul told BreakPoint; they’re just His delivery guys.
So What Can I do to Help?
There are many children who are part of the Angel Tree program that can use our help. Many of the InterHigh Staff and Students will be involved with Angel Tree this year as it is one concrete thing we can do to show God’s love to others. If you’d like to do help out, you can still register your church! The deadline is December 8th. You can go to AngelTree.org for more information. Or if you are unable to sign up as a group, you can donate whatever amount you’d like directly on the Angel Tree Website. Every little bit helps!
‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ – Matthew 25:40
God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. – Hebrews 6:10
- Let us know what your thoughts in the comments below!
- Have you participated in Angel Tree before? How was it?