June 30, 2020
In how they work, what they sacrifice and where they give, Miriam and Ray Callahan have consistently shown the world compassion. One of the many ways they have given back is through the creation of Elf Acres, a Christmas-light drive through built on extra land that surrounds their home in San Antonio, Texas. It is a project now four years in the making, one they have spent their retirement taking from a potential bust to one of San Antonio’s best Christmas experiences.
While the Callahans have enjoyed some of the returns from Elf Acres as personal income, they’ve also committed to contribute either $10,000 or 10 percent of their annual profits, whichever is greater, to Children’s Emergency Relief International (CERI).
Miriam had a long history with CERI, taking eight mission trips to Moldova and spending several weeks in South Asia with CERI’s Executive Director, Connie Belciug, looking at solutions to those countries’ treatment of children who lacked family support. Miriam also spent 10 years as a CERI Ambassador at City Church in San Antonio, where she was a counselor and a pastor.
The Callahans’ contributions from Elf Acres is a recent act of generosity to those in need, however, it is far from their first. Miriam spent years as a social worker and more as a Christian Counselor. Ray aided international populations while in the Navy and as a volunteer. They both served as house parents for teenage boys when they were only a newlywed couple in their 20s and sponsored two girls from Moldova through CERI for a decade, whom they remain in contact with to this day.
It is clear the Callahans have a legacy of helping children at home and across the world. In their careers, spare time, financial decisions, church involvement and much else, Miriam and Ray seem to be pulled back again and again to help children facing some of the most difficult circumstances around the world. But why have they felt, so strongly and so often, that children deserve help?
“I’ve seen the way people live around the world and, surprisingly enough, even people who are in very, very poor areas are happy people, but they need an opportunity to make their lives better,” said Ray. “Supporting CERI is my way of projecting my love and my care for other people who are disadvantaged, so that they have an opportunity.”
“Kids hearts are like fertile soil, and they desperately need love,” said Miriam. “It’s in those formative years that we have the potential to make the biggest impact; but then there’s that unexplainable element, which is that God just puts it in your heart. I have felt God’s love come through me, and it’s not logical but it’s intense, and it’s consistent, and that’s how I know it’s His.”
Just like the Callahans, you can help children, across the world, feel God's love and give them opportunities to make their life better.
This story originally appeared in “Together,” a magazine published by the BCFS System. You can read the full story here.