Dr. Anna Rich of Desert Bloom Ministries, Arizona contributed this beautiful TRUE story of Christmas

Dr. Anna Rich is the Pastor of Desert Bloom Ministries, a small church in Fort Mojave, AZ.  Her son and husband run Rich Industries, an aircraft/racing parts distributing company.

 

Anna was about 5 years old and living in Holland at the end of the second world war, when she was rescued by American soldiers.

 It was later in an orphanage there that she was visited the first time by angels who aided the children in their long nights of terror.  Her story is fascinating and has been told in several books that are being created and distributed now around the world. 

This is her true story of loss and love at Christmas.  Immediately after is an account of what Pastor Anna and her congregation are doing now, (in red letters), taken from an email to me this week. 

Enjoy!

 

Christmas morning 1978, 6:30 a.m. All was quiet in the house, no one was stirring.... "Go away, I don't want Christmas, go away...."! But sleep would not return and with full force the pain of the loss of my beautiful daughter flooded over me. During the summer vacation she was in a fatal accident at the age of ten years old, the joy of her family. Please Christmas morning, go away! It did not!

As I was stumbling out of bed and entering our kitchen, my eyes fell on the newspaper article I had written and for which I had won the beautiful bouquet of roses which I took to Danah's grave Christmas eve.

Is this how my life is going to be? Roses for the grave? Stories about how God helps those who are mourning? Did I really feel that myself? Did suffering give me strength and make me love God more or make me love Him regardless? These were the question racing through my mind.

The house was cold. My husband had announced the night before: "Don't wake me up. I don't want anything and I don't want to participate in anything, leave me be, please!" It was his way of dealing with his loss.

My oldest son was invited to spend Christmas day at the house of some dear friends of ours and our other son had moved to the Redwoods to :Get away from it all!

Christmas had been the highlight of our family life, besides water-skiing, dance lessons, baseball and other activities. We all bought thoughtful things for each other, we would sneak our packages in the house, hide them under our beds, whatever seemed a good place. I hid mine behind the living room couch which was situated near a large wall, it was such an obvious place, they would not look in such an obvious place.

Dad hid his in his workshop and just said: "Don't go in there" and his dark brown eyes would warn them that he meant what he said!

My mind went back to the Christmas when Danah was getting a new bike. We opened some gifts, I asked her to get "that special package" for Dad that we wrapped together from under her bed and while she was away we quickly brought her bike in the living room and placed it along side the wall near the entrance of the room.

Several times she walked by it and Dad and the boys and I would roll on the floor from excitement, how could she miss it? She even touched it one time! Then Mark said: " Danah, is that the kitty there by the bookcase", she turned: "where? I don't see it......ohhhh, is that my bike, is that for me?" and she burst in tears and giggles and sniffles.

She was the baby in the family, oh, it was a wonderful Christmas and all of our holidays were wonderful. Reading the Christmas story from the book of Luke, Mom usually directing the Christmas play at church, the great meals and the friends dropping by.

I shook my memories off of me and put on the clothes I had laid out the night before. UI was going to the Christian TV Station to counsel on the phone. Nobody was up, I was compelled to go. I needed it most likely more than the ones calling in. I knew that the Word of the Lord gives strength to the weary and would bring comfort to the sorrowing ones.

By 7 a.m. I was on the way to Orange County. The freeway was quiet and I arrived in no time, my tears had been dripping over my cheeks now and then, but I was going, no matter what.

The little phone counseling room was occupied by one other person when I walked in. She was on the phone already and one of the other phones started to ring. "Not even time to get my bearings or pray first" I mumbled and grabbed the phone. I heard sobs. I told whoever it was on the other end that I had plenty of time to listen and to take their time. 

"I don't know how I can take it" a woman's voice said. "My little boy was on his bicycle and was hit by a car and last week he died and we had to bury him......" and a loud crying started and more sobs. "O, God, what can I do, say? Help me, please", and I felt a big lump in my throat and my tears were gushing from my eyes. She kept crying, I kept swallowing and wiping off my tears. "You don't understand", she said between sobs, "how can God allow this, how can I go on living? It's Christmas, my son belongs to be here!".

Slowly I began to speak. Telling her that I did understand, that I had just lost my little girl and how God had compelled me to come into the Station that morning to answer the prayer lines. I could hear her sobs, but they were softer and I knew we had made the connection. From one hurting Mom to another. One in raw new pain, the other in a type of constant lingering 6 months all knowing don't go away pain. Somewhat more in control.

We spoke for half the morning. Sharing with her that I too had not wanted to live anymore, how could I go on I had asked God so many times, but remembering that I have a husband and two other children and that I could go on the next hour, this one day and then again another day tomorrow. How He directed me to a church where I was being filled with His Spirit, where there was singing and praising and laughing and fellowship.

How God just did not seem to allow me to pull back in total isolation, but kept me going to church. That is how I stayed alive.

We prayed together and she asked Jesus to come into her life and to comfort her and to teach her many things. To allow her to heal and to be comforted by Him and to help her find a good church. We said I love you's as we hang up. Two terribly sad moms traveling life's sorrowful road that quiet Christmas morning. 

Right after we hang up, I grabbed my coat. My job was finished. Time to go home. On the way home I sang a few Christmas songs. I still did not understand, I still was racked with pain over my great loss, but I also was acutely aware of His divine presence and thankful that He used me that morning to help someone else.

I heard from other sources later she was doing exactly that, going to church and allowing God to comfort her. 

He works out all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to HIS purpose!

God Bless you. Pastor Anna P. Rich

drannette@citlink.net   or   Drannette@ctaz.com

Desert Bloom is a small rural church.  This Christmas season we brought in candy and magazines and goodies and toiletries and we prepared 70 boxes for the soldiers in Iraq.   

Rich Ind. and Ussco our partner in the aircraft parts industry paid for the $400 dollar shipping bill.  (That was an unexpected expense!)  I was so very proud of our people. 

Each month we send money to India to “Voice of Gospel”.   $30 dollars per month for their orphanages and $30 to Rhema/Haiti/Bocozelle (restoring hope through education and medical assistance is what this R.H.E.M.A . stands for) and we send $30 to a minister who travels through the poor countries in the former eastern block, a mighty saint of God and a wonderful teacher of the Word of the Lord. 

He just lost his wife this year but is preaching the word just the same.  I personally know these ministries of Haiti and the Eastern block minister and have had much interaction with the people from India. 

This new adventure where I wrote the story: "The Boy Under the Bed" is to donate the completely finished and illustrated story to this organization that takes care of the elderly holocaust survivors by giving them monthly food baskets.  I remain the owner of all the rights because the story belongs to myself and my family, but they can use it and raise money for their organization.  It is lovely to be a giver. 

Our future plan is to have a ranch where foster children can come and learn about God, of course, and about horticulture and drama and music.  We are praying someone will donate us some acreage and then we sell our building (church building) and build on the acreage.  We have faith it will happen. 

I also finished writing (and the illustrations are finished also) a story about a little girl who lived in the Netherlands during WW2. These are very interesting stories.  Part of that money will go to the children of fallen soldiers.  I am looking for a publisher who is willing to donate most of the monies after the cost of printing. 

In the mean time I am setting up our own publishing company.  We already have the domain names for the web.   I'm excited about 2007. 

Also last year we raised the money to have a little girl's cleft palate and distorted face fixed.  She lives in India. 

From time to time we have made baskets with little goodie bags for the elderly in the care homes. 

We are trying to walk the walk, not pretending nor bragging or full of ourselves, it is a way of life I guess. 

I gave 6 stories to Rev. USAF Col. Jeffrey Oleary who, with his wife Cindy, started 4 orphanages (so far) in India.  The book he wrote was "Brave Hearts under Red Skies" by Cooks publishing, and it sold almost 100,000 copies.  Some people came to our church to have me autograph the books; it was fun.  He asked me to please let him use the stories.  His proceeds went to the orphanages.  I met him in person too.   

It is 28 years since I lost my daughter in that horrible accident and 12 years since Mark went to be with the Lord.  In those years I also lost my mom and dad.  Attended Bible College for 7 years and then still kept up my nursing license.  I took continuing education classes ever since then and also studied the Bible I think another four years to get my masters and most of my doctorate I did long distance - years of going back and forth, etc. 

I wrote my thesis on Aids prevention and Education.  How to reach a whole city.  Well, this city did not adopt it, but now maybe they will since Aids is NOT under control and people still get it every day. 

Am re-studying about tuberculosis as that old enemy is rearing its ugly head again.  I think I could start a school for general higher education on many subjects; it is just that there is not the help available. 

I will work on publishing the String of Pearls Bible studies in 2007 also.  I am also raising money for a story about "the Boy Under The Bed".   It is to raise money for the elderly holocaust survivors and almost all the money came in within two weeks. 

[The sales of this book] will help in supporting the India missions and the bocozeller maternity hospital. 

Before they got there, almost half of the babies and mothers died in childbirth.  They deliver about 100 babies a month and have not lost one mother nor one baby in the last five years since they are there.  So very amazing.  They see 200 patients a day and they are the only hospital in a 500 mile radius!!!  I have known these people from day one; that makes it extra special. 

One day I will go there and help in the clinic for a few weeks and also go to the schools and play guitar and tell stories about Jesus.

 

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