Miracle Shirts for Christmas

 

Sixty some years ago times were tough in Brazil. Money was scarce especially for a young couple who were planting a church in the outskirts of the city of Sao Paulo. Rev. Jose and his wife Irene were facing a bleak Christmas for money needed to be set aside for surgery on their five year-old daughter Cleide. Their surgeon had recommended the surgery on an umbilical cord hernia for she would begin school the first of the following year. And though the surgeon promised that he would not charge a fee, yet the hospital would need to be paid.

With no money, Jose and Irene went to a Japanese friend for a loan and promised to pay it back month by month.  But there was no money for Christmas. Nothing. It was Irene’s practice each Christmas to buy her husband a fine white shirt. But this year she explained there would be no such gift. Generally Irene would take his old shirts and turn the collars to hide the wear but this was not an option that Christmas. Every old shirt Jose had had been reworked as much as possible.

At family devotions as they knelt in prayer, Irene laid out her dilemma of having no shirt to give at Christmas. At that Jose replied that all the shirts in the world belonged to God, and if He wished to provide a shirt for him that would be no problem. So in prayer Jose and Irene laid the matter of a shirt before the Lord.

A few days later, still before Christmas day, a sister to Irene who lived nearby noted that a truck apparently moving a family had dropped a box in front of her house. She advertised for the owner and watched for any truck looking for a box—but no one came to claim it. Opening it she found linens and shirts. Her husband and others of the family tried on the size 37 shirts but they found out that not one of them fit. Then thinking of Jose she brought the box to him, wondering if there might be somebody in the congregation that could use them.

Just then when Irene saw the size was that of her husband, she started to cry for she was sure the box of ten shirts was sent by God. The shirts, most of them almost new fit Jose exactly. Pastor Jose had more good shirts on hand than ever before in his life. God had provided not just one shirt but many shirts for Jose’s Christmas.

But God’s answer to prayer did not end there. During his many years of ministry as a pastor Jose never again had to buy a shirt. Always shirts were given to him from one source or another. Always Jose had shirts on hand…good shirts until the day of his death. The shirts always came to him from unexpected sources

Still, the story has not ended. Remember the little girl Cleide that had surgery? Well, later in life she married Luiz Roberto—a man who has been the administrator of our seminary and sung in citywide crusades. Now get this—ever since he became Jose’s son-in-law he has never had to buy a shirt. But the miracle of the shirts has not only touched Luiz but that of his son Ivan. Cleide told me that she gets so many shirts from a variety of people—yes, so many shirts that she has to give them away. Apparently the answer to Jose and Irene’s prayer of faith is that the blessing of shirts falls from one generation to another.

Now a final note: Often when we have been in Brazil with a work team we have stayed in the home of Luiz, Cleide and Irene. Just before I rewrote this story, I chatted with Cleide and Luiz just to be sure I had the details right. Apparently it is all straight. Surely one of the proofs of the goodness of God at this Christmas season is this story of “Shirts for Christmas.”

 

Sixty some years ago times were tough in Brazil. Money was scarce especially for a young couple who were planting a church in the outskirts of the city of Sao Paulo. Rev. Jose and his wife Irene were facing a bleak Christmas for money needed to be set aside for surgery on their five year-old daughter Cleide. Their surgeon had recommended the surgery on an umbilical cord hernia for she would begin school the first of the following year. And though the surgeon promised that he would not charge a fee, yet the hospital would need to be paid.

With no money, Jose and Irene went to a Japanese friend for a loan and promised to pay it back month by month.  But there was no money for Christmas. Nothing. It was Irene’s practice each Christmas to buy her husband a fine white shirt. But this year she explained there would be no such gift. Generally Irene would take his old shirts and turn the collars to hide the wear but this was not an option that Christmas. Every old shirt Jose had had been reworked as much as possible.

At family devotions as they knelt in prayer, Irene laid out her dilemma of having no shirt to give at Christmas. At that Jose replied that all the shirts in the world belonged to God, and if He wished to provide a shirt for him that would be no problem. So in prayer Jose and Irene laid the matter of a shirt before the Lord.

A few days later, still before Christmas day, a sister to Irene who lived nearby noted that a truck apparently moving a family had dropped a box in front of her house. She advertised for the owner and watched for any truck looking for a box—but no one came to claim it. Opening it she found linens and shirts. Her husband and others of the family tried on the size 37 shirts but they found out that not one of them fit. Then thinking of Jose she brought the box to him, wondering if there might be somebody in the congregation that could use them.

Just then when Irene saw the size was that of her husband, she started to cry for she was sure the box of ten shirts was sent by God. The shirts, most of them almost new fit Jose exactly. Pastor Jose had more good shirts on hand than ever before in his life. God had provided not just one shirt but many shirts for Jose’s Christmas.

But God’s answer to prayer did not end there. During his many years of ministry as a pastor Jose never again had to buy a shirt. Always shirts were given to him from one source or another. Always Jose had shirts on hand…good shirts until the day of his death. The shirts always came to him from unexpected sources

Still, the story has not ended. Remember the little girl Cleide that had surgery? Well, later in life she married Luiz Roberto—a man who has been the administrator of our seminary and sung in citywide crusades. Now get this—ever since he became Jose’s son-in-law he has never had to buy a shirt. But the miracle of the shirts has not only touched Luiz but that of his son Ivan. Cleide told me that she gets so many shirts from a variety of people—yes, so many shirts that she has to give them away. Apparently the answer to Jose and Irene’s prayer of faith is that the blessing of shirts falls from one generation to another.

Now a final note: Often when we have been in Brazil with a work team we have stayed in the home of Luiz, Cleide and Irene. Just before I rewrote this story, I chatted with Cleide and Luiz just to be sure I had the details right. Apparently it is all straight. Surely one of the proofs of the goodness of God at this Christmas season is this story of “Shirts for Christmas.”

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