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The True Meaning of Christmas
By Jimmy Simms

Cullman Times

With so much political correctness in the world today, local truck driver turned evangelist Roland Belew says there is no way to express the joy he feels when he drive’s past the nativity scenes on display at the Cullman City Hall, Depot Park and Cullman County Courthouse.
Belew, 68, and his wife Jean, with the help of family friend Raymond Clark and local donations of lumber and materials from McGriff Transportation and Littrell Brothers Lumber Company, received permission from city and county officials to erect the nativity scenes at private, not public expense.
The purpose of the displays, Belew says, is to remind people of the reason for the season and why it is essential that Christians take a stand to keep Christ in Christmas.
“I want the nativities to represent to a lost and dying world just what Jesus Christ means to me, my wife and Christians throughout the world,” Belew said. “I want the people to see that we can still stand against persecution and take a stand for Christ.”

Belew says what he has done others can do because it is not against the law.
“No one’s civil liberties have been violated. Yes, if the city and county had displayed the nativity scenes on their own they would have had to included a secular element — two reindeer,” Belew said. “But they didn’t do it — a citizen did.”
Belew feels, as many others do, that Americans are losing what the founding fathers gave us — the ability to live and worship as we choose.
“There is too much political correctness in the world. It sickens me to see ‘Merry Christmas’ being replaced with ‘Happy Holidays’ and ‘Seasons Greetings,’” Belew said. “Just three or four years ago we began riding through town and it just didn’t feel like Christmas. As we began to ask ourselves why that was we began to realize that there is another spirit in the world.”
Belew said the transition didn’t happen all at once, but rather gradually, a little bit at a time over a number of years.
“You’d ride through town and see ‘Merry Christmas’ in nearly every store window and the next year there would be a few less and the next year a few less and this year you really have to look hard to find a reference to Christmas,” Belew said. “You used to see decorations at City Hall and around the Courthouse and then fewer and fewer. It’s sad.
“You receive mail-outs that say holiday gifts and reference holiday trees instead of Christmas trees. The ACLU and anti-Christian activists take a little here and a little there and the rest of us suddenly look around us and there is nothing left,” Belew said. “Their ultimate goal is to take Christ out of Christmas, but true Christians know the truth — there is no Christmas without Christ, only commercialism.”
He’s heard all the arguments. He understands that no one knows for certain when Christ was born, but he says he also knows that doesn’t matter.
“What matters is that Christ was born. I don’t know if it was on Dec. 25 or July 25, but what I do know is that my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was born,” Belew said. “I have no problem with Santa, gifts and a Christmas tree being a part of Christmas. That can be Christmas too, but the commercialism in the world today is not the Christmas I grew up knowing and loving.”
It didn’t take long for the community to notice the Belews’ handiwork.
“We began to receive comments immediately. One lady told us they drove by as we were putting up the display at Depot Park and her 4-year-old was blessed by it. And while we were building the manger at City Hall a lady stopped and said ‘Praise God y’all are doing this,’” Belew said. “A local attorney, who walked by as we were working, commented that he was going to go home and bring his son by to see the nativity that night.”
A truck driver for more than 40 years, Belew is semi-retired, driving local routes occasionally for McGriff Trucking in Cullman.
When he’s not on the highway, Roland dedicates a majority of his time to his truckers ministry in Good Hope.
Belew said his sermons are passionate and hard “because these are hard men and women.”
“I preach Heaven is sweet and Hell is hot and both are everlasting and you’re going to one of them one day,” Belew said. “I tell other preachers that their congregations want to take them out for chicken after Sunday service, while mine just wants to take me out.”
The work has been hard and the blessings many, Belew said, adding that few things have brought him the pleasure that his truckers’ ministry has.
“God took a hard-headed truck driver, washed him in the blood, called him to preach and put him down there and I wouldn’t trade places with the pastor of the largest church in America ,” Belew said. “I encourage folks to get back to the old ways — they weren’t all bad. And get back to the true meaning of Christmas.”