December 3, 2009
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.
But 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 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 accepted Christ as his savior.
He 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.
But God 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. It said, "from Jose Abreu." But how could that be? Jose was in jail. Then Mayra remembered Angel Tree.
The kids were ecstatic. There were gifts from Dad!
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—believe it or not—on the spot.
That story took place 16 years ago. But even more 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 its great program Angel Tree. They even took children of prisoners into their home while their mothers were in prison, adopting numbers of them.
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, and the Gospel, 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 300,000 prisoners' kids with gifts and the Gospel this Christmas.
But as of right now, we have 50,000 children signed up for Angel Tree who live in remote areas of the country where there are no churches. And we need your help to reach them.
But you can help. Please go to AngelTree.org. For each donation you make of $35.20, we will send a prisoner's child a Christmas gift, an age-appropriate book containing the Gospel, and actual greetings from their parent in prison.
When you go to AngelTree.org, 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, like the Abreus, it can even bring a whole family into the kingdom of God.
Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.