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Christmas Miracles
Miracles happen when God reaches out through people to put joy back in Christmas for families that otherwise wouldn't be able to celebrate it.

It is an army unlike any other. Each year, they ring their bells in malls and on street corners, collecting money for the needy in their trademark kettles. It is an army of love with the mission of helping others.

The child eagerly tore at the package. Her eyes lit up and she let out a gasp.

At Christmastime, The Salvation Army helps needy families by delivering food hampers, providing shelter and meals for homeless people and collecting toys for underprivileged children. In communities across the country, the Army is bringing the joy of the holiday season to those who need it most.

The following are true stories of everyday miracles told by Salvation Army volunteers and ministers who help put joy back in Christmas for families that otherwise wouldn't be able to celebrate the holiday.

Cabbage Patch comfort

It was the year of the Cabbage Patch Kids phenomenon. As quickly as dolls were placed on toy-store shelves, they disappeared—purchased by parents and grandparents for anxious children. Two weeks prior to Christmas not a single doll could be found. Frustrated parents searched desperately to fulfil their child's Christmas wish.

Meanwhile, The Salvation Army's Community Care Ministries was busy distributing donated toys to disadvantaged children. Two days before Christmas, they arrived at the local hospital for their annual visit. The gifts, wrapped with bright paper and identified by age and gender, were placed on a stretcher for easy distribution.

Upon entering one hospital ward, the Salvation Army volunteer in charge picked up a parcel and, unaware of its contents, passed it to a terminally ill girl with leukemia. The child eagerly tore at the package. Her eyes lit up and she let out a gasp. Turning to her mother, she exclaimed: "Santa did find me a Cabbage Patch doll."

With tears in her eyes, the mother explained to the volunteer that she had searched shopping malls for weeks to find a doll for her little girl, but without success. "I've been praying for days that one would become available," she said. "Tonight, I have witnessed a Christmas miracle."

In the Saint Nick of time

It was 10 P.M. on Christmas Eve. The young Salvation Army captain and his wife had spent the day packing and distributing food hampers and toys to the needy. As they were quietly reflecting on the day's activities, the doorbell rang. A young man stood at the door holding a large garbage bag.

"Good evening, sir," said the man. "I just left a Christmas dance where stuffed toys were donated to The Salvation Army."

The captain received the toys graciously and wished the caller a merry Christmas. "This will be a good beginning for next year's toy run," he thought.

Just then the phone rang. The officer received word that a mother and her three girls were in dire need of food and toys. The woman's husband had not been released from prison as expected, and they had no money for Christmas.

Thinking of his own three girls who were asleep in bed, the captain and his wife quickly assembled a care package of food and gifts for the family. Armed with suitable gifts from the bag of toys, and a few from under his family's own Christmas tree, the captain drove to the woman's home, arriving just before midnight.

Upon entering the third floor apartment, he discovered a woman washing her kitchen floor. In response to his greeting, the woman replied: "Sir, I'm cleaning for tomorrow, Christmas Day, and praying that somehow I will have food for dinner and toys to place under the tree for my three girls."

"God has answered your prayer," said the captain, as he placed the gifts and food under the Christmas tree.

A light came out of darkness

It was mid-morning on Christmas Day when the telephone rang. The caller told the Salvation Army captain of an elderly gentleman who was living in a windowless room of an old downtown boarding house and had no food.

A visit revealed that the man was alone, living in a room without any electric light except for the dim glow of a small TV. The captain invited the man to his home for dinner, but the man refused, asking instead for some basic food supplies. After returning with the supplies, the captain placed a new electric bulb in the socket and for the first time in six months the little room was flooded with light.

It was an opportunity for the captain to share the good news of Jesus Christ, the "Light of the world" who came to bring hope to all people.

Blessings from above

The local postmaster arrived at the Salvation Army captain's office three weeks before Christmas. In his hand, he carried a letter addressed "Santa Claus, North Pole."

"Dear Santa, my brothers and I have been good all year but we don't want any presents … "

"Captain," asked the postmaster, "can The Salvation Army help?"

A little girl had written: "Dear Santa, my brothers and I have been good all year but we don't want any presents this Christmas. Our mom doesn't have a washing machine. Could you give her one for Christmas in place of our gifts? P.S. Please don't tell anyone I wrote this letter because we want to surprise her."

The single mother raised money to feed her children by washing clothes. Since her washing machine broke, she had to wash everything by hand.

The captain called a lawyer friend, who agreed to help, and began to make arrangements.

On Christmas Eve, the little girl's family was decorating the Christmas tree when suddenly they heard the sound of a helicopter. Rushing outside, they were amazed to see a large crate at the end of a cable being dropped in the back garden.

The surprised mother, quickly opening the crate, discovered a washing machine, dryer and gifts for each child.

O come all ye faithful

Every Christmas Day since anyone could remember, The Salvation Army brass band went to the hospitals to play carols. The schedule never varied: meet at a frosty 8 A.M. outside the main gates, divide for the adult wards, recombine to play for the Christmas baby (God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen was the carol of choice in the maternity ward), spend some time with Santa in the children's ward. Then the musicians made the trip over to the last of the three city hospitals, where the head surgeon carved the Christmas turkey.

On this particular Christmas, a nurse in the children's ward asked a little awkwardly: "We have a young girl here who's in a coma. I don't know what good it will do, but will you come and play for her?" She led the band to the bed of a girl, barely into her teens, who had been in a coma for several weeks due to head trauma. While the band played, those who had been handing out copies of the Christmas Faith &Friends gathered around the bed in silent prayer. The band leader then spoke aloud what everyone had been praying in silence: "Father God, please help this child of Yours. In Jesus' name."

A couple of days later one of the doctors dropped by the house of the band leader to say that the girl had come out of her coma. It seems the sounds of the band's carols had reached into her darkness and helped pull her back to consciousness.

Are these miracles? Perhaps. Signs from God? Definitely. Motivation to serve others in Jesus' name? Absolutely. It is remarkable events like these that keep Salvation Army officers and volunteers going during the busy Christmas season. Next time you see a Salvation Army kettle, give a little from your heart to help the less fortunate. You'll be glad you did.

Steve Wilson is a freelance writer.

Originally published in Faith and Friends, December 2002




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