Empty Christmas Bag
I met Mike last week as he panhandled for fifty cents.
(That blog post is on my website. It ends with me giving him a Christmas card.)
Well, today, I carried 100 Christmas cards to the Recovery Center, so my girls could write verses and notes to Mike.
So during worship, the girls grabbed their Bibles, writing messages in the cards. Then we prayed for Mike and for the messages inside.
After service, I drove to Mike’s house (you’ll find out how I know where he lives from that first blog post), with a giant Christmas bag of cards. I also had Christmas candy and McDonald’s gift cards, too.
Christmas Bag Full
Mike was standing outside, and marched up to me. “Ms. Pam, God has done something I can’t do on my own.”
Now, he’d gotten a little too close, too fast, and he had a nervous, jittery friend at his side. So I held up the bag. “Look what I brought. I hold a church service with ladies who know your struggle. They’re in rehab. And they wanted to lift you up to God.”
Mike stepped forward, smiling, reaching down toward his ankle.
That’s when things went into slow motion for me, because I’m not usually afraid. But for a second, I wondered if I might be in danger. Because as Mike reached down, I saw the black brace around his ankle, which made me think he was hiding a knife or a gun.
(Surely he wasn’t going to turn on me. We were friends.)
Mike cocked his head, gazing up at me. “God has done a great thing. Remember, I told you I was going to stop drinking—someday. Well, look?”
I wasn’t sure what he meant, so I asked, “What is it?”
“It’s a gadget, and it’s locked. It will monitor if I have a drink. I’ve gone to jail too many times, and God knew I needed this.”
Swallowing hard, I felt relieved. “Mike, the courts may be keeping you monitored, but I believe God is calling to your heart, too. I hope you see how God is working in your life.”
Mike held the bag close to his chest. “I know. He does see me, huh? This is a great day. Will you come see me, again. Can you come inside?”
“I’m meeting my husband for lunch. But I’ll come back by. We’ll talk some more.” I turned to the man who was listening to our conversation. “And your name is?”
“Craig. I’m just Craig.”
Christmas Messages from Mom
“Well, Craig. I think you should read these cards with Mike. He has enough gift cards to buy your both lunch.”
Craig rose from his crouched spot by the tree. “Thank you. And how do you know Mike?”
Mike answered for me. “She’s the lady who gave me a Christmas card the other day. I told you about her. I couldn’t scare her off. And look, here she is again.”
I turned to Mike. “Take some time to remember how your mom used to share Christ with you. I know she passed away, not long ago.”
“You knew my mom?”
“No, but I’ve heard she was a woman who loved Jesus.”
(Yes, someone I know, told me about Mike and his family.)
“She lived here with me. I miss her terribly.” Mike bent over and touched his ankle, again, and then looked into the bag. “My mom would want me to read these.”
“Then I think you should spend the time—doing just that.”
“I will, Ms. Pam. I will.”
Christmas Ministry for You
I left the house on the corner, where two grown men watched me drive away. Where more than 100 scriptures were waiting to be planted inside the heart of Mike, and maybe even Craig.
You know, earlier, one of the girls in rehab prayed, “Thank you, Lord, for showing us how we can be in ministry for you. Even while we’re here in recovery.”
Yes, what started with one Christmas card grew into more than 100 cards, and sharing Christ came without a knife or a gun!