It’s the season when I pass the “angel tree” at the mall, when I get scores of empty returnable envelopes in the mail for charity, when I help the young pros in our congregation find children with needs and when the Toys-for-Tots bins are filling up at WalMart.
This giving phenomena always makes me think about how the greatest need that people have is not addressed by “charitable organizations,” but is ONLY addressed by THE charitable organization that was purchased by the ultimate act of charity at Calvary–the church of Jesus Christ. The church is the vehicle by which the world finds access to the gift that is supremely preeminent to all other pitiful material gifts. Access to fellowship with angels that are not just on a tree, charity that goes eternally beyond a returnable envelope, and the ministry that puts malleability into hard hearts so that they become “like little children” for “of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Mark 10:14), —each of these is found only in Christ. Getting His Word to those around us should be our greatest “charity” and gifts to needy souls should be far more important to us than what is under the tree. (I have to really examine my personal priorities here, and work on them, because I love putting gifts under that tree in my living room!)
So what if we could assemble an “encouragement tree” that ministers to the needs of downtrodden souls? What if I list for you the names (not the real names–the pseudo-names–of real women with whom I correspond who are your sisters who have needs of the soul during this holiday season? What if you choose a name from this list and write a letter of encouragement to a sister you don’t even know, send it to an email address or, if it’s handwritten, to a postal address I’ll include, and I will deliver them all for you before the end of the year? You may even wish to choose a name from the list and have the women in your church bring you their own encouraging notes and mail them to me in a large envelope. I know each of the ladies that I will list. One or more of you readers may even find yourselves “hidden” in the list below. I hope lots of women will find (take, snatch, manipulate, redeem) the time during this busy season to participate. It’s the most important kind of giving and yet even a sister with an empty pocketbook can participate in this giving tree. Best of all, there’s a real sense in which you, as you write your letter, are encouraging the Lord, Himself: “Inasmuch as you have done it to the least of these my brethren, you’ve done it unto me.”
Here’s the list:
1. Tricia: A now-faithful sister, in her thirties, who has a deadly STD.
2. Brenda: A grandmother whose young grand-daughter is very sick with cancer.
3. Treena: suffers with MS (in her fifties)
4. Marsha: suffers with panic attacks (in her fifties)
5. Maria: a busy homeschool mom and preacher’s wife who is very sick.
6. Angel: a mom who is really trying to beat anger management challenges and be a good wife and mother.
7. Priscilla: a very faithful single mom who is standing for truth in a very worldly area of our United States.
8. Carol: the wife of a faithful elder who is “standing in the gap” in an extremely difficult situation.
9. Jasmine: a busy young mom whose father is fighting for his life (cancer) in a city far away from her.
10. Krysten: a young and newly converted college student who is beginning to think that there are no really faithful guys “out there.” It just seems to her that their religion always turns out to be a facade and not an “all-the-way-through” lifestyle.
Remember the “children” on this “tree” are children of God. They are your sisters. You may reach them by sending a letter (include the pseudo-name, so I can sort them) to firstname.lastname@example.org. or a handwritten note may be sent to Cindy Colley, 1519 Old Monrovia Road, Huntsville, AL 35806. The deadline is Dec 25th. And many thanks for giving of your most valuable commodity: time.