As we wind down another holiday season, we remember a story that happened a few years ago at the Salvation Army Christmas Center. Director of Communications Shelley Henderson recalls when God answered a last- minute call for help for a family in need. As you read this story, reflect on the true meaning of the season, and know that whatever the need, the Lord will always be there to provide.
Philippians 4:6 states, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” In this world of “self-made” people, those words are easily forgotten as we take full credit for our success and good fortune. While working at The Salvation Army Christmas Center, we were blessed over and over again with reminders of God’s presence and faithfulness to His promises.
This year The Salvation Army worked with the Red Cross, assisting families who lost their homes due to fire during December. Fortunately, we were contacted only three times during that time. The last call came as we were closing the Christmas Center for the year on Saturday, December 22. After the week of gift distribution, we were all tired, ready to begin our Christmas holiday. The floor of the Christmas Center, once full of gifts and bicycles, was empty, littered with a few unclaimed bags of gifts. Our voices echoed in the emptiness of the center that only yesterday was full of people and life. Except for a few forlorn dolls and trucks, Toyland was empty; we did not have toys to make Christmas morning joyful for this family that had lost everything in a fire that very morning.
The family consisted of 9-year old twin brother and sister, a 5-year old girl, and a 4-year old boy with Cerebral Palsy confined to a wheelchair. The Red Cross provided us with sizes of the older three children and informed us that the little boy in the wheelchair wore a size 5 diaper and also that the four children were being raised by two aunts as their mother had recently been imprisoned. Looking around at the barren wasteland of the Christmas Center, our hearts dropped as we realized that we could not serve this family. And then we saw God working….
Within minutes, a woman walked into the Christmas Center, holding two Angel Tree bags, asking if she was too late. (We assured her that she was not!) Inside the late Angel Tree bags were gifts for the 9-year old boy and girl. At the same time we discovered in the unclaimed bags of gifts the cutest outfits and toys that were perfect for the five year old girl! A $50 Toys-R-Us gift card was discovered in a drawer. Gifts were found for the 4-year old boy. We sat, amazed at the flurry of events that had happened in the last 10 minutes.
Our amazement turned to tears as one of the staff brought to us the final gift we found for the family….a huge box of size 5 diapers found on the Christmas Center floor. God was working before we even realized we needed Him. Our prayers were answered before we even began praying. What a wonderful God we have!
God provided the entire time that the Christmas Center was open. He provided hearts willing to give their time and resources. He provided strength, hope, love, patience, and kindness. He provided a home for the program. He provided inspiration. He met our every need in ways that we did not recognize at the time. God was present, God was active, and God was - and continues to be - Good.