By Del Duduit
Little Mylee blesses kids and families she doesn’t know. One day, she will hopefully get to meet them.
The daughter of Miles Lee and Ashley Ferguson went to be with the Lord when she was only 45 days old. Her death was clouded at the time when her father was charged in her death. After an exhausting and emotional trial in Myrtle Beach, N.C., he was found not guilty.
Since then, her memory is alive and well in Portsmouth, Ohio, especially each December.
Mylee’s grandfather, also named Miles, goes to church with me, and he told me the story of Mylee’s Missions.
After his children were older, Miles said he felt the need to provide Christmas for other less fortunate families. “I asked the Lord to show us a family we could bless, and we have done that each year.” This set an example for his son.
After Mylee’s death in August 2007, her daddy felt the need to provide Christmas for more than one family.
How about an entire community?
“He had the vision to do something bigger in her name,” Miles said. “That’s when it was revealed to him to start a Christmas program for the children of the area.”
The only problem – he didn’t know where to begin.
“We didn’t have any idea of how to start this,” Miles said. “It just sort of came together the first year, and it has picked up steam.”
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I’d say it rather snowballed. Mylee’s Missions is an enormously large and impressive ministry.
In the seven years of existence, the event has helped more than 4,030 children and nearly 2,000 adults, Miles said.
There are more than 130 volunteers who make this happen each year along with about 20 area churches.
“He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.” Proverbs 22:9
Angie and I have volunteered at this wonderful pre-Christmas undertaking, and it is nothing less than a giant blessing wrapped up in love.
Visitors are first taken to a church where they hear the story of Christ from Miles Lee. Each person is presented the Gospel, and many have accepted the invitation. There are people who volunteer in prayer rooms to assist. Families also get to pose for a family photo they receive at the end of their visit.
After that, they are led across the street to the former Portsmouth High School gymnasium, which is transformed into a beautiful Christmas winter wonderland for the occasion. There are crafts for children along with Christmas carols and of course, presents. Dozens of Christmas trees light up the gym.
“For many, this is the only Christmas they will have,” Miles said.
“The woman was overcome with tears of joy. She didn’t ask for it, but she received a wonderful Christmas tree.”
Through tons of donations, every child receives a sweatshirt and coat along with a present and a goody bag. Adults are given a blessing box, groceries and a ham for Christmas dinner.
Miles told me one year a mother came through and commented how beautiful the trees were to a worker named Teresa. She told her they enjoyed seeing the decorated trees because they were not going to be able to have one that year. Teresa told the mother to pick out a tree, and she would make sure it was delivered to her home along with the decorations.
“The woman was overcome with tears of joy,” he said. “She didn’t ask for it, but she received a wonderful Christmas tree.”
What a tremendous impact this event has on the community.
I remember one year, I was in charge of crowd control. Toward the end of the day, the line was getting short, just like the gifts and food inside. One woman approached me and said she was in line hoping to get a ham to cook for her family. That’s all she wanted. She didn’t want any gifts or a handout. In fact, she whispered it to me because she felt embarrassed. I couldn’t make her any promises but secretly got word to Tom, who was in charge of dispensing the hams.
I described the woman to him and suggested he put one back for her. She demonstrated humility and gratefulness.
Later in the day when we were cleaning up, Tom told me the woman came through later and received her ham. She hugged and thanked him and cried.
“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
The cloud which initially hovered over little Mylee’s death has since given way to glorious sunshine. The joy her memory brings to families is the very essence of Christmas.
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Everyone who attends the event hears the true message of Christmas. “A lot of them have never heard it before, because their little eyes light up when they are told the real story,” Miles said. “That tells me they are hungry for the gospel.”
Scioto County is a beautiful area, but it has its economic problems. There are more than 17,500 people under the age of 18 and 5,000 under the age of five. Sadly, there are about 760 children being raised by grandparents, and more than 21,000 people live under the poverty level. According to statistics, more than 52 percent have filed for some form of assistance.
The help offered by the annual Mylee’s Missions event is better than anything the government can provide. Through her memory, people can find rest for their weary souls and true happiness through Christ. What a great Christmas blessing.
All this goodwill happens because of a baby girl who passed away. To honor her short life, gifts are provided to those who come to visit Mylee’s Missions the first Saturday in December.
Gifts also come through Jesus Christ who died for our sins, but they are available year round. He arose from the grave and offers the gift of eternal life to all who will accept Him. He will be at Mylee’s Missions, and I urge you to find Him there!
“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” John 12:32
What presents do you want this Christmas? If you ask the Lord for the greatest gift of all, you can see Mylee one day and wish her a Merry Christmas in person.
If you feel the need to help Mylee’s Missions with a donation, send it to:
640 Second St., Portsmouth, Ohio 45662
Thank you to Kevin Craft Photography for the pictures.