If you are a Nazarene (especially in our part of the country) you may have heard the Christmas story of the Toler Brothers. All three of these brothers have been pastors and leaders in our denomination. I recently found an article from NewsOK that recounts their miracle Christmas:
“Dad had been laid off from construction work, our food supply had dwindled to nothing, and we had closed off most of the house in order to cut down on our high utility bills,” Stan wrote. On Christmas Eve, they and hundreds of others waited in line for government handouts. The family shivered in the blowing snow until finally, Aaron Toler could not stand it any longer. They left without food. “We’re going home, boys. God will provide!” Stan recalls his father saying. “We cried,” Stan wrote, “but trusted Dad’s faith in God completely.” That night, the family ate popcorn and opened gifts that Mom had bought with Top Value trading stamps. On Christmas morning, as the entire family slept in the parents’ bedroom, a loud knock and a hearty “Merry Christmas!” startled them. The visitors were from the Fifth Avenue Church. “There stood Clair Parsons, Dalmus Bullock and others with gifts, clothes and a 30-day supply of food,” Stan wrote. “(Yes, dried pinto beans, cornmeal and a huge roll of bologna were included!) Since that day, I have always believed that God will provide, and that God is never late when we need a miracle.
(You can read the entire article about the Toler brothers HERE)
I pastor a Nazarene church. Our name “Nazarene” indicates the desire of our founding mothers and fathers to be a church for ANYONE. Even people from Nazareth! You see, Nazarenes weren’t the up and comers in the world. They weren’t the wealthy an influential. In fact, when Nathaniel found out Jesus was from Nazareth, he asked Philip, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
At times we have gotten away from our roots. We have tried to be successful. We have moved out of the cities into the suburbs. We have built beautiful buildings and created magnificent youth centers. We might have even snubbed our noses at the “Nazarenes” of the world, wondering if anything good could come from such places.
This week I was on the phone with a lady from an organization I work with here in town. She was telling me about a young couple that she ran into. She was casually asking how the couple’s Thanksgiving went. The couple just sat there quietly, not saying much. Another lady chimed in and asked, “Did you eat a lot of food?” It finally came out that the couple had eaten breadsticks from little caesars that one of them had brought home from work.
It hit me hard to know that people in my town are eating breadsticks for Thanksgiving or any day for that matter.
I’ll have to admit, being a pastor has made me a bit cynical about giving at times. We get lots of calls at the church from people just wanting us to pay their water or gas bill. People sometimes lie to you to get what they want, and sometimes it becomes obvious they are doing so. Jesus tends to say things like “Give to everyone who begs from you”, and then wisdom says that we only have so many resources so I need to make sure I am giving to a GENUINE need. It’s definitely a tough balance.
But when I heard about this family in MY community that is eating breadsticks for Thanksgiving (and a lot of other days from what I can gather), It broke my heart. So I wanted to do something about it.
So I want to challenge all my Midwest City friends (It doesn’t matter if you attend our church or not) to do me a favor. While you are at the grocery store, stocking up for you big Christmas shindig, could you pick up some things that could be EASILY HEATED in an oven (pizza rolls, hot pockets, think the freezer aisle), Mac and Cheese and the like, or crackers, cookies, etc… We are not wanting a big turkey or lots of ingredients, because to make a full fledge Christmas meal might be overwhelming. (Up until just recently they didn’t have pots and pans to cook with) We are hoping the food will last them a month or so…
Items can be dropped off at Community Church of the Nazarene, 10200 SE 15th MWC, OK 73130 on SUNDAY, DECEMBER 21st from 7 AM- 12:30 PM
That Christmas for the Toler brothers changed their lives. The church of the Nazarene is grateful to that little church that brought them food, we have been blessed with 3 great leaders. We may not see the same results here in Midwest City, but we WILL experience Christ in the act of giving. ( “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat…”)
I hope that Community Church of the Nazarene will get back to our roots of being the church for those who may be at difficult places in life. My prayer is that this will be a springboard for us as a church that will help us to begin to provide for the TANGIBLE needs of members of our community into the new year! (I am already hearing of more families we may be able to assist)
I hope you will join me in being part of someone else’s miracle Christmas!