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Wednesday, February 10, 2016  |  319 Days Until Christmas
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Stories, Poems and Humor
Left Book In the Midst of the Mall
by Mitchell, Bass
Right Book

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Hits: 1901
Group: Stories
Language: English

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I saw him in the mall. He was about 5'6" and wearing a dark uniform that made you think of the air force or at least some branch of the military service. The cap was the kind you would see a policeman least they used to wear them..short bream and looking like it was made of cardboard. On the collar of his coat on both sides was a large "S" in a circle of silver thread. He was holding a red metal bank that had a handle and he was constantly rattling the change in it.

Behind him were three Angel trees covered with little paper angels that had the names and needs of little children throughout Roanoke, VA. Around the trees were brightly wrapped packages of all shapes and sizes, and people were dropping off more of them as I sat and watched.

There was something else about this jolly fellow standing there. I did not notice it at first. He only used one hand. His other hand was withered looking, drawn back toward his elbow. It was apparently quite unusable. I walked up to him, put in a donation, and we started to talk. His name is Phillip Priest (it was on his name tag). What a great name. He's 36 years old and has worked with the Salvation Army since he was 14 (for 22 years!). He's taking classes to become an officer (ordained) and his girlfriend is too.

I asked him how the donations were going this year. ""Not as much as last year," he said. "People are kind of stingy this year for some reason." I stood there looking at the people passing by, most holding arm loads of presents to take to loved ones. It was obvious there was no shortage of money, anyway. I got up the courage to ask about his hand. He told me that he had it since he was born....that the midwife "yanked" on his arm in such a way that permanent damage was caused. But he was not bitter at all. It did not seem to bother him or hinder him in the least. And we talked about his plans, why he was doing what he was doing...and it all came around to the fact that he just loved Jesus and people...that he had no choice but to follow the path before him...

I thanked him for what he was doing and said that I would keep him in my prayers. You do, too. For in the midst of the mall, among thousands of people out looking for gifts for themselves or those they love, there stands a small man with a withered arm who spends day and night there seeking gifts not for himself but for others - little children, the hungry, the was to me as if Jesus himself was standing there that day...

"Lord, thank you for Phillip Priest and all those like him. They challenge and humble us in their unselfish giving and in their priorities this season. They are surely closer to the kingdom than I often am. Bless him in his studies and in his upcoming marriage. And thank you for his witness in the midst of the mall... Amen."

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