Hurricane Mitch

Over the years I've had the pleasure of telling BreakPoint listeners some wonderful stories about Prison Fellowship's Angel Tree ministry, and how it has brought joy into the lives of millions of prisoners' kids. But today I have a somewhat different kind of Angel Tree story to tell you. Every year Prison Fellowship cooperates with prison authorities to compile lists of inmates who want their children included in the Angel Tree program. The prisoners' gift lists are sent to churches or Christian groups, and the children's names are written on angel-shaped ornaments. The ornaments are hung on a Christmas tree, which is set up in a church, library, or shopping center. Participants choose an ornament from the tree and buy a gift for the child whose name appears there. Volunteers then deliver the gift to the child in the name of the incarcerated parent. Often these volunteers have the chance to witness about the love of Christ to the child and his family. Earlier this year, Angel Tree volunteers from largely Hispanic churches in New York City, Miami, and New Orleans asked for the names of the prisoners' children who lived in their area. They planned, as they had done in previous years, to set up Angel Trees in their churches. But then came Hurricane Mitch and the tragic destruction in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Honduras. Many of the church members had relatives and friends living in these devastated areas—people who have lost their homes and all their possessions. These churches began hearing urgent pleas for help from the relatives of their members. Church leaders believe their top priority should be using their financial resources to assist family members in crisis—and, of course, they are absolutely right. Unfortunately, this means many churches are having to return their Angel Tree applications to Prison Fellowship. As Angel Tree's National Director Ron Humphrey told me just this week, this means that thousands of kids in New York, Miami, and New Orleans will not receive Christmas gifts from their incarcerated parents this year. That is, they won't unless “BreakPoint” listeners and friends across the country lend a helping hand. We're asking listeners who can spare a gift or buy a toy to send it to Prison Fellowship in Manassas, Virginia. These toys will be divided up and sent to Angel Tree volunteers in New York, Miami, New Orleans, and any other city where an emergency arises. Volunteers will distribute these toys to the kids. And then they will take the opportunity, using a Gospel booklet and an illustrated Bible, to tell that child the real meaning of Christmas: It's about the birth of Jesus Christ. This is the first time in the 16 years of Angel Tree's ministry that an emergency like this has come up. Angel Tree is such a blessing for children whose lives have been shattered by crime. Please—won't you consider sending a toy to Prison Fellowship so that we can give it to an Angel Tree child? The address is provided for you below. For more information, contact Angel Tree's Web site: You may also want to consider calling BreakPoint and asking how your church can start up an Angel Tree program in your own area. Every year, Patty and I deliver Angel Tree gifts, and for us, it is one of the greatest blessings of the Christmas season. There's nothing quite like the face of the little guy who looks up at you to say, "I knew my daddy wouldn't forget me." This year, let's be certain no little guys or gals are forgotten.


Chuck Colson


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