It is December 11th and I am sitting at my desk while the blizzard is roaring outside. We are supposed to be delivering 250 Angel Tree gifts this morning around the city. (Angel Tree is the ministry of Prison Fellowship, the ministry that provides gifts from parents in prison to their children.) In my usual anxious way, I get concerned that we will not get these gifts to the children before Christmas.
As I sit here reflecting on the Angel Tree ministry over the past years, it struck me how much God has provided for this ministry through people. There have been many times over the course of the years that the situations seemed overwhelming. There was so much need, so much to do with care and attention and sometimes little help….. and then God would provide.
Several years ago, there were an unusually high number of kids needing gifts and few churches available. Our church agreed to purchase more gifts than usual, consequently requiring much more help, more help than anticipated. When delivery day arrived, the chaos was felt. So much attention is needed to get the right gifts to the right homes. I had not planned on it being that difficult to coordinate the team. And then God provides…… a woman arrived, saying she felt she was suppose to help that day with Angel Tree. She was not sure why and she did not really know what Angel Tree was. She had a gift of managing details and helped coordinate the deliveries that day. She had never volunteered with Angel Tree before, and I have not seen her since.
Every year there is a concern that not all the gifts will be purchased, that we will not be able to fulfill our promise to get the gifts to all the children. And then God provides……. someone stops by the Angel Tree table and offers to take any angels that are left. They wanted to make sure no child goes without.
After all the gifts are purchased, they have to be sorted in order to get the gifts delivered to the correct home. Due to bad weather, we had a number of volunteers not able to get to the church on sorting day. It was going to be a big job for the few that were there. And then God provides……five woman working in other areas of the church showed up to sort presents as they heard Angel Tree needed help.
Another year, an additional six kids were added to our list the day before we were to deliver the gifts. This meant buying and wrapping twelve gifts that night, after all the other obligations that day. I was roaming the mall at 9pm on a Friday night, trying to figure out what some of these toys were and how to determine sizes for the kids. I was exhausted and in tears about how to get this done by the next morning. And then God provides….my cell phone rings and it is a friend. She has kids and she knows exactly how to decipher the requests. She arrives at my home at 10:00pm to help me wrap all the gifts.
So as I sit here concerned about how will the gifts get to the kids by Christmas? I know God will provide!