Did you hear about the secret Santas who are paying off Christmas layaways? Wal-Mart customers in San Leandro, Calif., were called and asked to pick up their layaways after they were paid off by a total stranger.
One customer was Elizabeth Cortez, who owed a balance of $111 when she got the surprise call.
“A good Samaritan just paid for you,” said the Wal-Mart employee.
“I’m like ‘What?’”
The stranger was waiting at the Wal-Mart counter, hoping to meet her.
“So I rushed over there, and there were three other ladies that she had paid (for), and then she paid for others as well,” said Cortez.
“We were all in tears.”
This good-hearted stranger closed out between 10 to 20 accounts, paying off thousands of dollars.
This was not an isolated incident. A Wal-Mart representative said the company has tracked about 1,000 instances of strangers paying off layaway accounts at its stores this season (Debra Villalon, www.wsbtv.com, 12/9/13).
The spirit of generosity is in the air, encouraging us to find ways to bless others with special acts of love and kindness. Yet, we’ll never top God’s act of love that He sent at Christmastime. “For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son. . .” When we give, we imitate God. Giving characterizes Christmas.
On Christmas Eve, 1952, in Korea, a young lady in labor, Bak Yoon, hobbled through the snow toward the home of a missionary friend she knew would help her. Her husband had been recently killed, and she had nowhere else to turn.
Down the road from the missionary’s home was a deep gully spanned by a bridge. As Bak Yoon stumbled forward, birth pains overcame her. She fell, realizing that she could go no further, and crawled under the edge of the bridge, where alone, in the frigid conditions, she delivered her baby boy.
Bak Yoon had nothing but her heavy padded clothes. Piece by piece she removed her clothing and wrapped them around her tiny son. Then exhausted, she lay back in the snow beside her baby.
The next morning, Miss Watson, the missionary, drove across the bridge to take a Christmas basket to a needy family. On her way back, as she got near the bridge, her car sputtered and died. She was out of gas.
She got out of the car. Snow crunched as she walked, but, still, she heard another sound, the cry of a baby. She stopped, listened, and realized the cry was coming from beneath the bridge.
She crawled under the bridge and discovered a tiny, bundled baby, warm but hungry, and young Bak Yoon frozen to death. With a knife from her tool box, she cut the cord and took the baby home with her. After first caring for the child, she and some others recovered the body and had her buried.
Eventually, she adopted the baby she named Soo Park. He was strong and healthy and grew up among the other orphan children that the missionary lady cared for. She often told him, “Your mother loved you so much,” and shared again the story of his mother’s sacrificial act of love.
On his 12th birthday, snow was falling. Though he knew well his mother’s story, now it hit him in a different way. He asked, “Mother Watson, do you think God made your car run out of gas the day you found me?”
“Perhaps he did. If that car hadn’t run out of gas, I would not have found you.” Then he asked, “Would you please take me out to the cemetery so I can visit my mother’s grave?”
They bundled up, she drove him to the cemetery, and Miss Watson waited while Soo Park walked ahead and knelt at the graveside. She waited and watched, and after a few minutes, Soo Park abruptly stood and started taking off his clothes, piece by piece and laid them on the grave. Everything came off, and the boy knelt and shivered in the snow.
The missionary heard him cry out to the mother he never knew: “Were you colder than this for me? Is this what you did for me? Thank you, mother, for your act of love.” (From The Short Circuit, a student publication of Asbury Theological Seminary, vol. 86, No. 11, Dec. 6, 1986).
Thank you, God, for your act of love. Thank you, God, for Christmas.
——––[Dr. David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Ga. Join them this Sunday for Bible study at 9:45 a.m. and worship at 10:55 a.m. Visit them on the web at www.mcdonoughroad.org and “Like” them on Facebook.]