In Gastonia, North Carolina, last Christmas, 14-year-old Joshua Moore was sitting in a car, crying—not for himself, but for other children. Joshua, his dad, Paul Moore, and his dad's friend, Todd Gilreath, were delivering Angel Tree gifts to 25 different children on behalf of their incarcerated parents.
They were now about to visit a child living on what Paul Moore calls "the hardest street in Gastonia."
When Paul, Todd and Joshua arrived at the house and knocked on the door, they found eight children inside. In a corner was a tree the kids had cut down from the woods. There were no presents beneath it.
The mother explained that each of the eight children had a different father. The father of only one of them—a ten-year-old boy—was actually in prison. Joshua handed him his Angel Tree gifts.
But he couldn't help noticing the sadness on the faces of the other seven children. That's when he went out to his dad's car and began to cry.
But God works in mysterious ways. Just the day before, an auction house had donated a great many new toys to the prison ministry. "Use the toys anywhere they're needed," Paul, Joshua's father, was told. He had put the toys into seven bags according to gender—three bags for girls, and four for boys.
These were exactly the genders of the children who had not received gifts at the home they'd just visited. And the bags were now in the back of their car.
"All we have to do," Joshua's dad said, "Is go home and put some batteries in the toys." So, that's just what they did. And then they returned to the home and knocked on the door again. I will leave it to you to imagine the screams of joy over those unexpected presents.
When Joshua's father, Paul, went home and told his sister about the kids, she lost no time in taking them some food. This year, Joshua's family plans to take Angel Tree gifts to nearly 300 children. They're going to bring a few extra gifts just in case they encounter a similar situation to last year's. But don't even think of giving them credit for caring. The Lord provided the gifts through His servants, Paul told BreakPoint; they're just His delivery guys.
If you want to help children like the ones Joshua encountered, you can do a number of things. You can still register your church to deliver gifts to prisoners' kids through Prison Fellowship's Angel Tree program. It's not too late—your church has until December 8th to sign up. Just go to AngelTree.org, or call 1-800-55-ANGEL.
If you're not able to get your church involved, you can also visit AngelTree.org to donate whatever amount you would like to help Prison Fellowship's Angel Tree purchase Christmas gifts for these children. Finally, you can also use AngelTree.org to actually order a gift to be mailed to a prisoner's child.
Angel Tree gifts help maintain the fragile bond between a parent who made a serious mistake, and his innocent children. I pray that you will help these needy children—"the least of these," by taking part in Angel Tree this year.
Like the Magi of long ago, you will be bringing gifts to, and blessing—a needy stranger's child.
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.
Published on December 8, 2010.