I know a wonderful man who has been a mall Santa Claus for the last 15 years. That’s a lot of time–and a lot of people!
Occasionally someone derides what he does or–worse–complains that by doing so, he’s ruining the spirit of Christmas. They don’t really know what happens…
Yes, for some folks, being Santa is just a job. But others find ways for it to be a ministry as well. Not a ministry of conversion…but a ministry of caring. Charlie’s had a number of those experiences.
He encouraged a young teenage boy who was going to be going to court for something (Santa didn’t ask–didn’t need to know). He was concerned that he had really messed up–but Santa told him he believed in him…that he could turn his life around. And when he left the Santa set, his heart was lighter and he had confidence in himself.
He has given hope to children whose parents were not with them–either in prison or overseas in the military.
He has brought smiles to the faces of sick children in hospital.
He has shared Santa joy with senior citizens who have never had a chance to visit Santa before.
He has had pictures taken with parents bringing their new babies home and wanting something to commemorate that joy.
And this year, he had a young boy ask him to pray for someone with leg injuries the boy had seen at another store.
Those experiences don’t happen every day–nor do they happen with every Santa. But the best ones–in my opinion–provide a ministry that expresses the joy and hope of the season.