The Perfect Gift

  Paul Celluci was a faithful father and husband. But last year he ran afoul of the law and ended up in a North Carolina prison. Now it was Christmas, and his four kids faced the sad prospect of celebrating the holidays without their dad. And with her husband in prison, Heidi Celluci didn't have much money to spend on gifts. But God can bring good out of any situation -- and he used Paul's incarceration to show this family how much he loved them. Paul signed up his kids for Angel Tree, Prison Fellowship's gift-giving program for the children of prisoners. Last Christmas, when the kids unwrapped their gifts, Heidi was astonished. Who but God could have known that seven-year-old Michael was crazy about eighteen-wheeler trailer trucks, and that he desperately wanted a pair of multi-zippered black jeans? And how could Angel Tree have known that five-year-old Casey loved Matchbox miniature cars? God even reached out in a special way to Shelby, Paul's three-year-old daughter, who was too young to really understand why her father was gone. Every time Paul talked to his little girl, he always ended the conversation by saying, "Daddy loves you, Shelby. Hugs and kisses!" Well, Shelby was given a little Elmo doll from Angel Tree. When she squeezed Elmo, out came the words, "Elmo loves you. Hugs and kisses!" Just like her dad. As for the oldest son, Robert -- he received a collector's car -- a Corvette. It was his and his father's favorite dream car. As Heidi recalls, "It must have been the Lord. How else could Angel Tree have known to get a Corvette?" And she adds, "These people who went out and bought the gifts must have prayed ahead of time for exactly what to get these kids. How else could they have known?" But God not only met this family's physical and emotional needs, he met their spiritual needs as well. While in prison, Paul Celluci gave his life to Jesus Christ. And the very first Sunday after his release a few months ago, he shared his wonderful testimony in his family's church of how he came to Christ in prison. That family is healed, reconciled, and back home together. Christmas is approaching once again, and I bet you're already looking for that perfect gift for your loved ones. Well, I've got a suggestion. This Christmas, instead of giving another store-bought gift, why not wrap up a gift of eternal worth? Make a donation to Angel Tree in honor of your loved ones and your friends. That's what Patty and I plan to do this year. It costs Angel Tree just nine dollars per child to give a gift and the gospel message in the name of that child's incarcerated parent. All of these kids need to know their mother or dad in prison has not forgotten them -- and that their Father in heaven hasn't forgotten them, either. If you call us here at BreakPoint, we'll tell you how, through our Angel Tree program, you can be a blessing to children who might not otherwise have a reason to celebrate this Christmas. The Bible says, "Every good and perfect gift comes from our heavenly Father" (James 1:17). With your help, Angel Tree volunteers can give good and perfect gifts to some innocent victims of crime. It's a great way to celebrate Christmas -- a great way make a difference.


Chuck Colson


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