Offering Hope in Their Time of Need
For many families in need in our community, The Salvation Army is the first call during the Christmas season. It’s been that way for more than 100 years.
Each year in October, more than 200 families a day flock to The Salvation Army Christmas Center to register for assistance during the holidays. These are families whose children, without our help, would not experience the joys of a traditional Christmas. This holiday season, the line stretched around the building on the opening day, and the crowds continued throughout the registration period.
Clients receiving Christmas support, each from either Mecklenburg or Union County, come from all walks of life. Some are hardworking single moms and dads. Others are grandparents, relatives, or caregivers. Many are unemployed parents, struggling to get by. The dedicated staff and volunteers at the Christmas Center are there to greet them and walk them through the process of registering for assistance.
But, there’s something else taking place there, and perhaps it’s the most important of all – prayer. Tucked away in a corner at the front of the room, there stands a Christmas tree. Instead of glass ornaments, you’ll find tags adorning the branches, each with its own prayer request written by one of our clients.
“Pray for my family…we have been through a lot this year…”
“Pray for God to keep working on my marriage…”
These are just a couple of the handwritten, heart-felt requests on the Prayer Tree. Some are in English, and some are in Spanish or other languages.
“As I read over them, they are very touching. There are a lot of basic needs: for health, for finances, of course, family needs,” said Major Debra Broome, Co-Area Commander for The Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte. “Most of the requests don’t have a name, but that doesn’t matter. The Lord knows who they are. And, even though I can’t personally read Spanish, I can still pray because God knows all the details.”
Each tag represents a precious family who not only needs a helping hand at Christmas, but also needs to feel a touch from God. Every person who visits the Christmas Center is known and loved by God.
As individuals registered for assistance, staff offered them an opportunity to write and place their prayer requests on the tree. While similar initiatives have been done around the country, this is the first time there has been a Prayer Tree at the Christmas Center in Charlotte.
“The first day, we were so busy that we didn’t have time to let everyone know about the Prayer Tree,” said Broome. “I was almost in tears when I noticed that afternoon, that there was a woman writing down a prayer request, and there were about a dozen tags already there. I said, ‘thank you, Lord. You made this happen.’”
“When speaking with them about the tree, everyone I offered it to, a big smile came on their face.”
People are comforted, knowing that The Salvation Army cares enough to do even more than provide toys for children. We can offer them hope in knowing their needs are being lifted up to God.
Philippians 4:6 states, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
The needs are real. And, the opportunities to help, especially at Christmas, are endless. Thousands of families in our community experience a brighter holiday each year, thanks to The Salvation Army and its faithful supporters. Even more than gifts, we can offer them the peace and comfort in knowing that God loves them and they are being prayed for.