A couple of years ago, I sat down with a minister to talk about why so many people were not only losing faith, but literally walking away from their houses of worship and their faith.
We both agreed it was a growing crisis with multiple negative consequences.
He felt that more and more people were simply losing faith in their “leadership.” Be that political, corporate, or faith-based leadership. They saw and heard from leaders who continually “talked the talk but never personally walked the walk.”
He also felt that the basic needs for joy, hope, faith, and a simple human connection were not being addressed. We both agreed that faith aside, the country and the world needed a whole lot more of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Soon thereafter, I was a passenger in our car as my wife was driving us through a winter snowstorm. As we drove, I attempted to read the local newspaper…except…every headline seemed to be tragic, sad, and hopeless.
I quickly put the newspaper down and soon found myself staring at a large and growing snowbank. As I did, my mind wandered to an image of the North Pole. Next, came the thought of a multi-billionaire who had lost his way in life. He had every material possession money could afford and yet, he was empty inside and contemplating the worst.
From that, came: The North Pole Project – In Search of the True Meaning of Christmas.
The multi-billionaire would receive a call from his minister brother from Texas talking him back from the abyss while reminding his little brother that the only time he remembered him truly happy in life was when they lived on an Army base with their military parents and, as an 8-year-old boy, the now billionaire would collect old soda bottles to turn in for money so he could buy Christmas presents for children on the base less fortunate than them.
“Become that person again,” the minister brother begs him. “Become Santa Claus all over again and in the process, save yourself.”
The book then incorporates subplots of 10 people from around the world going through some of life’s most difficult challenges and being “saved” by this project while they and hundreds of other volunteers band together to help desperately poor children from multiple nations.
As the story evolves, the multi-billionaire joyfully reconnects to his faith and then stands upon it as the foundation for the good he intends to do for the rest of his life.
With his own faith now restored, the multi-billionaire speaks to the dismay and sadness he feels that Christ has been removed from Christmas and that millions of Americans are now worried about saying “Merry Christmas” to others at Christmas time out of fear of offending someone.
The multi-billionaire stresses that anyone of any faith or no faith is welcome to be a part of his special project to help poor and disadvantaged children around the world as long as they are good people. That said, he underscores that for him personally, “Christ must be part of Christmas as Christmas is the celebration of the birth of the Baby Jesus.”
In a country and a world where more and more people are losing faith in everything, the story does try to simplify life and reestablish basic human connections of joy, hope, charity and faith with the message that: “The True Meaning of Christmas being that when we help others in need or in pain, that is the most meaningful gift we will ever receive.”