Wednesday, November 25, 2009

God With Us...are we with them?

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. We have much to be thankful for, despite the economic downturn. The day after is "black Friday" - when stores hope to be put "back in the black" after a dismal retail season. But for some children, black Friday is just going to be another dark day.

I was struck by this meditation by Chuck Colson on the value of the Angel Tree program. St. Stephen Church has faithfully taken on at least one Angel Tree family. This year, we are stepping up and taking two families. There will be food to provide, clothes to warm them, and toys to brighten their lives.

Would you consider making a contribution to cover the costs of extending the love of Jesus to our Angel Tree families? You can designate it through your tithes check. Alternately, if you'd like to personally purchase for a need (perhaps while you're shopping on Friday), contact Pat Miles. She has the sizes for the children and can coordinate other gift-givers.

Thank you so much!

Us With Them?

Chuck ColsonToday I want to tell you about a young lad named Emmanuel. And then I’m going to ask you to help with an urgent need by showing a prisoner’s child that God truly is with us.
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I can’t sing the words of that familiar Advent song “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” without remembering a young boy—a child of a prisoner.

Every year, Patty and I deliver Angel Tree Christmas gifts to the children of prisoners. And I’ll never forget one year in particular, when Patty and I drove into a housing project to deliver our gifts.

We saw broken windows and grim-faced gang members lounging in doorways. After parking our car, we found our way to an apartment and knocked on the door. A boy, about 9 years old, cautiously opened the door.

“Merry Christmas,” I said, holding out the presents. “These are from your Daddy.”

Immediately, the door swung wide open to let us in. The boy’s mother was on her way home from work, and as we waited for her, we saw that the apartment inside was a wreck. The furniture was torn, the stuffing falling out. A scraggly Christmas tree leaned up against the wall, bare of any presents.

When I asked the boy his name, he replied, “Emmanuel.”

“Emmanuel,” I said, “Do you know what your name means?” I opened my Bible and read from Matthew: “And they shall call him Emmanuel—which means ‘God with us.’”

Just then, his mother came to the door. Emmanuel threw his arms around her thighs, crying, “Mama, Mama, God is with us!”

In Emmanuel’s clear voice, I heard the message of Christmas afresh: that God is indeed with us always—and in a special way at Christmas, when He entered history through Jesus Christ.

I was particularly reminded that He came for the prisoner who turned His back on Him. He came for the mother who can’t make ends meet. And He came for the child who cries himself to sleep at night because he’s never known his daddy.

God is with us. And He has given us the rare chance to be with those who desperately need Him.

Each year, Angel Tree brings this message of hope to hundreds of thousands of children of inmates. Church volunteers deliver Christmas gifts—and the Gospel message—in the name of the incarcerated parent. Think what this means—not only to the children, but to the moms and dads in prison as well.

But this year we are facing an unprecedented crisis. Although churches have committed to delivering gifts to some 300,000 children, due to the slow economy and some other factors, there are 50,000 children as of today who remain unclaimed. They have no sponsors.

And so I’m doing something I’ve never done before. Please go to our website,, as soon as you’ve heard this broadcast, and sponsor one child for a donation of $35.20—enough to send a gift, Gospel materials, and a message from mom or dad to that child. Or maybe you could take two or three, or more, as God leads you.

And you could ask your church to help as well. Maybe they can adopt a group of children in an area. The thing is, we must not fail. No child should be forgotten this Christmas.

God showed us that first Christmas that He is with those who have no hope. And we have the rare privilege of taking that message to these children. Sign up, please, at today. Please, we need your help desperately.

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