Copyright 2023, Santa Max Experience, LLC.
What a joy and ministry it has become. Each year I have been able to pray with someone in need. Over the years the stories have collected and piled up. I know now that God can use anything and everything to reach and love all.
Over the 22 years that I have been Santa Max, God has used Santa to minister to many health illnesses, family issues and other crisis.
I was determined to sabotage my first year as Santa by boldly praying for people on set. I thought this surely will get me fired. The thought of being a Santa was still very unsettling. However, I did have to admit, I loved the joy, laughter and comments the children would come up with. I loved the interaction, getting to play with them, and the challenge, getting great pics of the shy or crying.
My destiny as Santa was sealed forever in my mind however, on one evening. The set manager elf came over and told me that the next little girl to visit (we will call her Anne) was going to be lifted from her wheel chair by nurses, and gently placed on my knee. I was given strict instructions not to bounce her, tickle her, startle her or make any sudden moves. Following the pictures, the nurses would pick her up and return her to the chair. I was to be perfectly still.
I noticed that this little Anne was with a very large family, perhaps ten or more. We got the pictures and I was looking at the most perfect little girl one could ask for. I saw nothing that indicated an injury or sickness. Anne was a bright smiling and talkative little girl, so I asked her “Anne, you are beautiful and look so lovely in that pretty dress….you don’t look ill at all, so why are you in a wheel chair, are you sick? To which she gleefully answered, “Mommy said I might go and see Jesus this coming Thursday. So, we are having Christmas tonight.” Nothing prepared me for that. I felt a blow to the stomach and wanted to just weep. I too had a little girl with long curly hair just a year or two older back home. I could feel the parents’ heartache. Wanting to know more, especially how that they knew the day this would happen, I called for the mom to come over. I inquired, “Anne is such a beautiful and bright girl, why is she in a wheel chair, because she looks the picture of health” Mom managed a smile and said, “Anne has an aneurism on her brain, growing rapidly. This coming Thursday the neurosurgeons are scheduled to operate, and due to its precarious location within the brain, they have given us only a 3%-5% chance of success. Without the surgery, she only has a few weeks at best to live.
Stunned, I asked mom, “Would it be ok for me to pray for her?” As tears filled her eyes she stated, “Oh yes, PLEASE do!” I requested the entire family to surround the chair, as this was no one’s business but between this family and God. Moments after I started to pray, words gushed from my mouth as I looked at the mom and forcefully proclaimed, “Your child shall live and not die!” After prayer I requested that they leave their phone number so I could follow up Thursday night. When I called the home, I could hear joyful sounding noise in the background. Mom said, “You won’t believe what happened today! I laughed and said, “try me!” She proceeded to tell me how they had shaved Anne’s head, given the dye in the blood, and took Anne back for a last second Cat Scan look. After more than an hour and what seemed like eternity, the family were all called into a room where the surgeons, technicians and specialist were all standing around looking at and comparing the former and current brain photos. They stated that they could not explain how or why, but that it is apparent by the Scan there is no sign of any aneurism, and they had repeated it multiple times to be sure. They said to take your daughter home and let her play. She is healthy by all indications and we can find nothing wrong with her. She then told me that she shared about our prayer and all the doctors could say was “we can’t explain it.”
As news of this Praying Santa spread about, it was not uncommon to have people drive two or three hours from nearby States, only then to wait in line for another couple hours and then come up to me and say “I heard that you pray for people, and I need prayer for…..” This was something that I did not expect. It also tells me that this nation is in need of REAL church, not just the feel good I did my ‘Sunday-thing’ kind. There is a lack of churches moving in the power and authority of His Word and prayer today. So much so that adults would do this because they don’t know of a church nearby they can feel confident in to seek prayer. Sad indeed! Each year, as I received my job orders, be it New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Florida, Ohio or North Carolina I found one or two families, sometimes more, who I felt were there by divine order.
Most of my Santa years were at the Pineville mall in NC. There are too many stories to list, but suffice it to say, a young girl wearing a scarf came by, we prayed, and next year she returned with hair about an inch or two long and wearing a big smile she stated, “I’m cancer free. Thanks for praying!” After praying for one mother who could not have children, she came back the following year with twin boys. I expected to see them as regulars, but it was years before I saw them again. Then one year, two young boys joined me on the chair, and mom introduced them as the miracle twins. Her husband had been transferred out of State and that is why they hadn’t been by for several years. Mom had told the kids about the prayer that day, and they wanted to meet the Santa that prayed them into this world. I then asked her, “only these two then? Well sit down and let’s pray again!” She laughed exclaiming “NOOOO! Two is enough.” I have prayed for marriages to be healed and wayward children to return home. I have connected churches and other associations with families whose children asked for food, a dad in need of a job or a single mom place to live. I’ve had on set proposals, surprise visits from military fathers while their kids had their eyes closed and wishing to see daddy again, only to open their eyes and there he stands! Oh, I have enjoyed the magic in which God has allowed me to participate!
Please do not take any of this as bragging. Santa Max considers himself to be the jackass of God’s calling. Remember, if God can use a jackass to rebuke Balaam, he can use a Santa Claus persona to minister His word. God only needs a willing vessel (even if I did go kicking and screaming).