Seven-year-old Mencia Abreu and her brothers, Alex—age five—and Ricky—age two—slept wherever their parents laid them down. Sometimes on the streets of Queens, New York. Sometimes in a shelter or a grimy room in a cheap hotel. They played in alleys, parking lots, and dark hallways that smelled of stale liquor.
One day the Abreu children's fragile world was shattered when Jose, their dad, was arrested on drug charges. Suddenly they were fatherless as well as homeless.
In jail, Jose too was devastated. Overwhelmed by guilt, he had no hope that he could ever make things right again.
Then, in his most desperate moment, Jose met the God of mercy and forgiveness. Jose Abreu accepted Christ as his savior.
Jose grew rapidly in his new faith and eagerly shared it with his wife, Mayra. But Mayra was hopelessly addicted to cocaine and wanted nothing to do with her husband's Jesus.
God, however, had other plans.
On Christmas Eve, the Abreus heard a knock on the door. “There was a UPS guy with a BIG box,” Mayra explains. “We took the box into the living room and opened it. It said, ‘from Jose Abreu.’ Jose Abreu? How can it be? Jose's in jail. He can't buy anything!”
But then Mayra remembered: Angel Tree!
The kids went crazy. Mencia shouted, “It's from Daddy!” Christmas presents! Clothes for everyone. A toy animal farm for Alex, a model cargo plane for Ricky, and a doll for Mencia.
As Mayra recalls: "I cannot describe to you the joy that my children and I felt when we opened [the presents]. I thanked God right there. I cried, and went on my knees. This is when I knew that God loved me, and I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ into my life."
She also prayed that God would free her from her addiction to cocaine. And He did. On the spot.
That story took place 16 years ago. But just as amazing is what happened afterward. Reunited after Jose’s release, Mayra and Jose devoted their lives to serving prisoners and their families through Prison Fellowship and Angel Tree. They even took children of prisoners into their home while their mothers were in prison.
Jose went home to the Lord in 2008, but Mayra continues her work of love. And it all started with a knock on the door . . . because someone cared enough to send Christmas gifts through Angel Tree.
This year, we need you to be part of the next miracle in someone’s life. We have an extraordinary challenge ahead of us. Churches across the country have committed to reach more than 390,000 prisoners’ kids with gifts and the Gospel this Christmas.
But as of right now, we still have more than 50,000 children signed up for Angel Tree who are not covered by those churches.
But you can help. Please go to AngelTree.org/deliverlove. For each donation you make of $11.44, we will send a prisoner’s child a Christmas gift, an age-appropriate book containing the gospel message, and actual greetings from mom or dad.
When you go to www.AngelTree.org/deliverlove, you can even specify the age and gender of the child you’d like to reach. And of course, you can reach more than just one child if you are so led. It’s so simple, but so important.
And it can even, as it did with the Abreus, bring a whole family into the kingdom of God and into His service.
Further Reading and Information
Angel Tree From Your Hands to Their Hearts | AngelTree.org