Oregon Angels

"Is it too late for Angel Tree?" The caller was a mother from California, and she had reached Linda Leahy, an Oregon Angel Tree staffer. Linda replied, "Well, as a matter of fact, the deadline lapsed a couple of weeks ago." "Oh, please, don't say that!" the caller pleaded. "My husband didn't know where to send the gifts." What happened next illustrates what can happen if we're willing to be flexible in our response to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Linda wanted to hang up. After all, she was extremely busy helping get Angel Tree gifts to the children of Oregon prisoners. And it was past the deadline. But the caller's next words went straight to her heart. "My husband doesn't know where to send the gifts," the woman said, "because we're homeless." Linda responded, "Let's talk some more, and see what we can do. What prison is your husband in?" It turned out he was in a federal prison in Sheridan, Oregon. "If you call the prison chaplain and get him to fax us an application, we'll move right on it," Linda promised. Within 15 minutes, the chaplain had faxed the application to Linda. She called back the young mother, whose name was Robin, and asked for gift ideas for the three children. Robin asked: "Do you have food?" Linda told her that Angel Tree doesn't give away food, but that the staff would arrange to get her some. She then took down gift ideas for Robin's three young children. That afternoon, Linda and her daughter Julie went shopping and purchased all the gifts. Since Robin's 4-year-old was celebrating his birthday that day, Linda also looked over the gifts that had been donated directly to the Angel Tree office. Her eye fell on an electric train set. What little boy wouldn't love that? Volunteers packed it up with the Christmas gifts and mailed them to Robin's new home in Section 8 housing. Another Christian volunteer in rural Oregon offered to buy the children school clothes and supplies. And a local church agreed to follow through, helping the family settle into the community. It's a wonderful, moving story that shows that the ministry of Prison Fellowship is making a difference. You listeners, by supporting BreakPoint and Angel Tree, are helping us do that, helping us touch the lives of people who have less than nothing. Robin's story also helps those of us involved in ministry to remember to be flexible. In this case, the Angel Tree deadline was past, and it was the most hectic time of the year for the staff. But they were willing to put aside their heavy workload to help a desperately needy sister in Christ. Two thousand years ago, the Christ child was born in a stable—the Child of homeless parents. He had nothing, and strangers brought him gifts. Through Angel Tree, you and I have the privilege of participating in that loving act by bringing gifts to modern children who have little or nothing—to share with them, not just gifts of toys and clothing, but the love of Christ. May we never forget how much we owe that Baby—and may we never stop serving the least of these—people like Robin and her children—in His name.  


Chuck Colson


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