Santa: From dirty streets to a clean sleigh

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The best ones catch us by surprise, bring a smile, and perhaps refocus our priorities.

This one—this week—from (missionary/Hope Unlimited for Children CEO) Philip Smith in Brazil:

Christmas 2014 in Brazil. Think hot. Sometimes Santa is not who we expect him to be. Sweltering in the Hope Santa suit this year was a former street kid. Luciano graduated from Hope in 1996, got a good job, married, and became a worship leader at his church. A few months ago, he reached out to me saying he felt called to return to Hope as a houseparent. Then in July, he moved his family to Hope Mountain.

Over lunch the day after Christmas (a roasted pig—an entire pig—there are some things we do really, really well here!) Corenne asked him if he ever thought he would be Santa Claus. His (appropriately) jolly self turned serious and he said, ‘I remember the first time Uncle Philip walked in dressed as Santa. It made such an impression on me. It was the first time I got a Christmas present. I sure never dreamed I’d be Santa one day!’

But we still have young Lucianos on campus today . . .

Among the many children celebrating Christmas at Hope Mountain this year was 14-year-old Alex. He arrived just a week before Christmas, abandoned by his dad; his druggie mother in prison. Sent to stay with an uncle, neighbors reported sounds of terrible abuse to the authorities who dispatched police to bring Alex to Hope Mountain.

He was scared his first day here. But the new home fit. Pictured here with Santa, receiving his bag of goodies, his smile was ear-to-ear.

Maybe Alex will be Santa one day . . .

Think about that one for a while—and the journey it will take for him to get there.

Like Luciano and Alex, the children of Hope had precious few happy memories—memories that sustain—before coming to Hope. It is especially meaningful for our Santa to be celebrating Christmas with his young daughter, who—like all her generations to come, we pray—has never, and will never, know anything but a loving home.


Where has your journey taken you?

Maybe not from a dirty street to a Santa costume, but perhaps it has been a journey of remarkable grace—the kind that overflows, leaks. And perhaps it is one that demands you give back.

Want to guess where I’m going with this one?

If you’ve been blessed/challenged/encouraged by reading about the ministry of Hope Unlimited for Children here or in my book Dirty Faith, why not encourage the kids and staff with a gift of support? Whatever you give will be multiplied FOUR TIMES in Brazil—and I happen to know God has a way of multiplying even further!  (All gifts made or postmarked by December 31 will qualify for 2014 tax deductions.)

It’s been an honor spending time with you this year! I hope you’ll leave a comment and tell me your “dirty faith” dreams and goals for the year ahead. We can hold each other accountable.

Safe celebrating… and I’ll see you in 2015.

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