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Excited boys and girls trotted in a circle, a huge Christmas tree in the middle.
“This party is a blast.” Joe, fifteen, breathless from the dance, nudged his twelve-year-old sister.
“Lots of food,” Tracy muffled through a mouthful of chocolate cake.
“Wait until you see the gifts,” screamed George, a lanky seventeen year old.
It was an annual program, The Angel Tree Christmas Party, Joe and Tracy’s first time. The last two Christmases were far from this. Alone, cold, dirty and hungry, they scavenged for food. Apart from the few dollars they got from sympathizers, the garbage cans were filled with delicious scraps. Tracy even dug out a big, round, untouched Christmas cake, still wrapped in foil. They named it their Christmas present from God.
Joe often wondered why they were different from others. Even when their parents were around, food was hard to get. Why were they poor? Why did their dad come home drunk most times? Why did he often beat their mum? Why did he beat her so hard that day that she died?
That was three years ago…
Shrieks of laughter broke into his thoughts. One of the clowns had hopped into the pool. He couldn’t swim, desperate, he yanked off his outlandish costume, revealing a very frightened teenager. His crumpled face produced more laughter.
“Who would have guessed Fred played the clown.” George enthused.
“You know him?” Joe asked.
“Yes, my dad was in the same prison with his mum. We met at the Angel Tree Camp last summer.”
When George’s dad was in prison, he encountered the Prison Fellowship Ministries, became a Christian and registered George to receive Christmas Presents. The neighborhood church supported him and his mum and helped them maintain contact with his dad. When his seven-year term ended, the family rededicated their lives to Christ and coordinated their church’s Angel Tree Outreaches. George met Joe and Tracy at one of the programs. The three of them formed a fast friendship.
“Common, this is my favorite part.” George urged Joe and Tracy towards the tree. “Every present has a name tag. Look for your name and see what your dad sent to you.”
Joe’s eyes filled with tears when he saw a digital photo camera. He had wanted one for so long. He looked closely at the tree to see if there was an angel on it. Only an angel would know what he really wanted. Only an angel would be so good to them. Tracy screamed for joy when she sighted a big white teddy bear she had always admired in the shop down the street. They also got pictorial copies of the bible. Now they can read about their bible heroes.
Like Joe, Tracy and Fred, there are 1.7 million children of inmates, stranded and lonely, not only at Christmas, but all year long.
In Matthew 25:43-46, Jesus said, “…I was …naked, and you clothed me not…in prison, and you visited me not… Inasmuch as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me… And these shall go away into everlasting punishment…”
Please, do not turn away from helping. Join Angel Tree to share gifts and the gospel with children of inmates. Help provide Christmas Presents and other gifts of love. This is “pure religion and undefiled before God…” James 1:27
Donate and enjoy earthly and eternal rewards. Remember, Christianity is all about giving and service. The religion God accepts as pure and faultless involves looking after those in need.
Be the Angel in the tree.
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