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Dec21FriAll this father wanted on Christmas eve was one thing. December 21, 2018 by Shelly McCready
I was leaving for the night. It was two days before Christmas, the last day that our Salvation Army office would be open before the holiday break, and it was well after 5 p.m. We had served more than 400 clients that day alone, and my staff and I were looking forward to a well-deserved rest.
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- Faith & Friends
Just as I opened the door of my car, I saw a man walking toward our doors. I confess that part of me, honestly, hadn’t wanted to ask—but I did.
“Can I help you?”
He looked rather sheepish.
“I was hoping that maybe I could get some help.”
I was going to spout off about how the time to register was far past, how we were done for the season, and so on, but something—or Someone—stopped me.
The Breaking Point
My co-worker and I welcomed this young man in and began to ask him questions about his household: how many children did he have, what were their ages, what sizes did they wear?
“Oh, no!” he interrupted me. “I don’t need gifts for Christmas. I just want supper for my family tonight.”
He began to cry as he related to us how he had always worked and supported his family but had unexpectedly been laid off just a few weeks before. His pride was taking a beating as he waited for that first unemployment cheque.
Today was the breaking point: not enough food in the house. He explained how his relations were helping with Christmas for the kids, so he really didn’t want to take anything from us.
But the real kicker was when we asked his name.
“Joseph … my name is Joseph.”
Prayer for Joy
Our thoughts immediately recalled another Joseph who wanted to provide for his wife and child. Another Joseph who was in a precarious situation, probably feeling as helpless and as vulnerable as this one, who stood before us now.
We were so moved by this dad who only wanted to provide for his kids. We tried to encourage him as we loaded him up with food and gift cards and prayed with him before sending him out the door.
Joseph walked away with his head held a little higher, with renewed hope that he and his family would get through this difficult time.
We never saw him again but I will never forget him. Every Christmas, I pray that he and his family got through that period of hardship and found joy and happiness again.
Shelly McCready is the community ministries co-ordinator for The Salvation Army in Saint John, N.B., where she is deeply invested in the lives of the clients who seek services.
Feature photo: © Steve Debenport/iStock.com