- Associated Press - Friday, December 25, 2015

GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) - There’s a well decorated tree in Tina Delk’s front yard in southern Greenville County.

But this diminutive tree has no Christmas lights.

No garland.

No ornaments either.

The decorations on this tree have nothing to do with the colorful displays of the Christmas season.

Although, they have plenty to do with the spirit of the Christmas season and why it’s celebrated.

Delk started decorating this tree in April with different colored ribbons. It’s her “prayer tree.” Each of the 250 ribbons hanging there represents a prayer for someone or some family in need.

“Prayer has always been a big part of my life,” Delk said. “Being raised here by good Christian parents, I love prayer, and it always works.”

The prayer tree started several months after Delk’s son-in-law lost his job. Through his severance pay, the family made it through last Christmas. But after the new year, times began to get hard.

Delk prayed for her daughter’s family. Then one day while working in her front yard, Delk said she heard a message from God.

“God said, ‘are you really praying with all your heart?’ and it just made me think,” Delk said. “I looked at this tree and I thought, I’m going to prove my prayers are genuine and start tying a ribbon on the tree.”

On April 21, Delk tied her first ribbon and prayed for her son-in-law to find a job. She did the same thing each day for nearly two weeks. On the 13th day, he found work.

“I went out and tied a white ribbon on the tree that day because God answered a prayer,” Delk said. “He found a job and I was so happy.”

She shared her news with a friend, who encouraged her to keep the prayer tree going, “because so many believe in prayer.”

As Delk kept praying and hanging ribbons, word spread about the tree, and prayer requests started coming. From fellow members of Sandy Spring Baptist Church in Pelzer to family and friends in 20 different states, England and Nova Scotia, Delk gladly accepted them all. She keeps a log to track each one.

That comes as no surprise to Delk’s pastor, Dan Green.

“She’s one of the absolute strongest prayer warriors we have,” Green said. “She’s constantly in prayer and requesting prayer for other people. People love to be around Tina and talk to her.”

Just as she did after her son-in-law found a new job, Delk replaces the ribbons of answered prayers with a white ribbon. She does the same for those who are sick and pass away.

“I tie a white ribbon because that was an answered prayer, whether they got well or went to heaven to be with Jesus,” Delk said.

Green believes the white ribbons are a very important part of the tree.

“The white ribbons allow people to actually see what God is doing through prayer,” Green said. “It’s a wonderful ministry that she’s started and I hope it will continue.

“The other day she told me she may have to start tying ribbons to another tree because this one has so many.”

Word about the prayer tree has now spread beyond friends and family. Delk said it fills her heart when she’s adding a ribbon to the tree and passers by honk their horn and give her a thumbs up because they know what she’s doing.

Delk has watched strangers pull over in front of her house, tie a ribbon to the tree, pause for prayer, then get back in their cars and drive away. That doesn’t bother her in the least.

“It’s what God wants me to do,” Delk said.

Recently, a special prayer request was sought by a young stranger from across the street at Robert E. Cashion Elementary School. The youngster didn’t stop at the tree though.

“Right before Thanksgiving, there was a knock on my front door. It was a little boy who said, ‘ma’am, I’ve come to ask to tie a ribbon on your tree and pray for my classmate who’s really sick.’ I said, ‘I’d be glad to.’ “Delk said. “I said, ‘as a matter of fact, let’s go to the garage to get a ribbon and you and I will tie a ribbon on the tree.’ “

Delk never got his name, but she prayed with the boy, who Delk believes is probably in the second grade.

“All of this has been the biggest blessing for me,” Delk said, “but that little boy really touched my heart.”

___

Information from: The Greenville News, https://www.greenvillenews.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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