It Starts with a Gift and Leads to Transformed Lives through Jesus Christ.
Angel Tree and Mosaic Church of the Nazarene partner in ministry outreach to the children of the incarcerated in Florence and surrounding areas every year.
Angel shaped paper ornaments adorn a humble tree. Each Angel Tree ornament has the name of a child, a personal message from the incarcerated parent, and an item description of a toy or clothing item. The personal message on the Angel Tree ornament contain words of love and encouragement from the incarcerated parent to the child. People of all ages gather around the tree to see which child they will be giving a gift in celebration of the birth of Christ.
Pastor Kevin McGinnis often tells us everyone has a story about what God has done in their life. Our best stories are about the steps we took to God’s grace bringing us to receive Christ, the risen Child of God, as our personal Savior. If we do only one thing for God, through Christ Jesus, it is to be the image of Gods unconditional love when we reach out to others to lead them to Christ. Mosaic Church of the Nazarene works to be a place of Christ’s love and acceptance.
Here is a brief idea of how Angel Tree works. A list is given by computer to the Angel Tree Coordinator which includes the children of the incarcerated name, address, phone number, caregiver/parent, a gift idea category and a personal message from the incarcerated parent. The prisoner works with a Chaplain and enters the information into a computer. The caregiver/parent is contacted by phone or mail by the Mosaic Angel Tree Coordinator to confirm the information and let them know there will be a clothing gift and a toy for the child. They are asked what the child likes to do for fun such as drawing, their favorite character theme and the needs of the child like clothing are discussed. Many parents begin to cry on the phone because they did not think they would be having any gifts for their child.
After the gifts are purchased and returned to the Angel Tree Coordinator, delivery arrangements are confirmed by another phone call and the story takes another step.
As the Mosaic Angel Tree Coordinator, I found myself seeing with my own eyes what a small token of unconditional love through a gift can do to the human spirit of a child and the parent left waiting behind.
Here are a few delivery stories experienced by Mosaic Angel Tree Ministry in Florence, Arizona and what God has done though his mercy, grace and unconditional love.
I met one child three years ago whose mother worked the night shift. After getting approval to deliver from his mother he shyly greeted me at the door. The first year he was presented a skate board and hoodie. He was glad to know his incarcerated Father had remembered him. The second year he knew my car. The third year was even more special. The gift requested was not the toy of a child anymore. He had requested a Christian music CD and Christian t-shirt. Mosaic was one piece of the plan God had for this young mans life.
A boy and girl in their preteen’s were outside playing when we arrived to deliver their gifts. After they brought their caregiver outside, the children eagerly took the gifts as I told them how God loved them. When I sat in the car drivers seat and reached for the door to close it the boy blocked the door while the girl grabbed the window. With a sense of urgency they asked me repeatedly if I knew where their Mother was and to tell them. I didn’t know what the caregivers had told the children. I told the children I did not know where their Mother was at this moment but I could tell them that she was thinking about them because she went to the computer and put their information in it so we could get these gifts to them. When they realized that their Mother cared about them and did that for them, they were content. After thanking us they allowed me to go on to our next delivery.
Two gifts were delivered to a child at his Grandmothers trailer. As we handed off the gifts to the boy, a younger boy emerged from another smaller trailer, cold and wrapped in an old comforter looking very sad. I quickly asked the Grandmother about this boy. She told me his mother was recently incarcerated and did not get on the Angel Tree list. I told the boy that we would be back with a gift for him. He looked up and smiled.
It didn’t matter if the young boy was on a list. God gave Mosaic the opportunity to reach out to another child through the work of Angel Tree Ministry.
Before delivering the additional gifts, I made a stop at Cody and Company, a Christian owned Florence Business. The Director of the Florence Crisis Pregnancy Center was there talking about the Christmas tree’s they had decorated around Town as a fundraiser. Oddly, one tree did not get a single offer. They asked me if I knew anyone who needed a tree. I quickly thought about the little boy in the comforter, cold, without his mother and waiting for my return.
When we arrived to deliver the gifts the Grandmother told me the little boy had been asking over and over when we would be back. I wish I could recreate the image for you of a bouncing, smiling boy when he saw the car, the gifts and the beautifully decorated tree. The Grandmother told us they would make certain the young boy was added to Angel Tree next year.
All of the children say thank you and most nod yes when you ask them if they know God loves them. In addition to gifts, we give them a Gospel presentation card, Mosaic Christmas card and invite them to our Children’s Nativity program. There is so much more to Mosaic Angel Tree Ministries then meets the eye. There are opportunities to show and tell these children they are loved through Jesus.
We wanted you to know how your kind gesture of gift giving to someone you don’t even know contributes to giving hope, love and acceptance in their lives. Any step leading a child, caregiver, parent, grandparent, or foster parent down the path to knowing Jesus is a good use of your time. Your gifts contribute to the plan God has for the life of these children and their families. Thank you.
Always in Christ,
Mosaic Angel Tree Coordinator
To learn more about Angel Tree Ministry visit their website at www.angeltree.org.
The following information is from the ANGEL TREE website.
Every child has a story. For 1.7 million American children, that story is filled with the abandonment, loneliness, and shame that come from having a mom or dad in prison. For many, it may also include following their parents down the same destructive road to incarceration.
Angel Tree is a ministry that reaches out to the children of inmates and their families with the love of Christ. This unique program gives your church an opportunity to share Christ’s love by helping to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the families of prisoners.
Angel Tree Christmas works by connecting parents in prison with their children through the delivery of Christmas gifts. Every Christmas, thousands of churches like yours help brighten the lives of countless children by purchasing, wrapping and delivering gifts on behalf of their incarcerated parent—not only delivering a message of love from parent to child, but also the true meaning of Christmas—the good news of Jesus Christ.