Not Just for Kids

It's Christmas in July again--but this time with a new twist. Yesterday I talked about Angel Tree, a ministry of Prison Fellowship where volunteers buy Christmas gifts for children whose parents are behind bars. But Angel Tree isn't just for kids. Here at Prison Fellowship, we've seen whole families transformed by the simple kindness shown through a Christmas gift. Listen to the story of a young woman named Nanny. Nanny had just given birth to her first baby when her husband, Paul, was sentenced to prison, leaving her to struggle alone to raise their infant son. It was hard enough to scrape together enough money to pay their normal living expenses, but Nanny was also staggering under a pile of bad checks Paul had left behind. The strain was immense and Nanny was often depressed. She found herself nursing a deep bitterness against Paul for causing her troubles. "All I could think about was getting even with Paul," Nanny says, "and then committing suicide." But a small light began to shine into Nanny's dark life with a call from an Angel Tree volunteer. "What do you need for your baby?" asked a cheerful voice. That was just the beginning. When Christmas came, the presents for Baby Andrew were just the thing to lift Nanny's spirits. But she also found--tucked among the packages--a small book about Jesus. It was written for children, but Nanny read the book over and over, with a growing spiritual hunger. The Angel Tree volunteer kept in touch, and found a friend to drive Nanny to visit Paul in prison. It wasn't long before the friend was picking Nanny up for another reason--to go to church with her. In time, Nanny committed her life to Jesus Christ. Paul noticed a change in his wife and became curious. Soon he was asking for a Bible to read and attending chapel. Eventually he committed himself to the Lord as well. Today Paul is still in prison, but he's started a new life. Nanny says, "It's as if I'm falling in love all over again--with a new Paul." This story has no ending because Paul and Nanny are going to live forever, like all God's children. But I'm happy to say it began with a single phone call from an Angel Tree volunteer saying, "Hi. What can I get your baby for Christmas?" If your church or organization would like to host an Angel Tree this Christmas, the time to start planning is now. Prison Fellowship will send you a list of children whose parents are in prison. You write their names on angel-shaped ornaments and hang them on a Christmas tree. Anyone who wants to participate chooses an angel off the tree and buys Christmas presents for that child. Call Prison Fellowship today. Angel Tree can change a child's life. And it can even bring a whole family into the Kingdom of God.


Chuck Colson


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