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Col. Jon Stories

THE TOWN THAT WOULDN'T QUIT

One of the nicest Christmas stories this year is about the town of Wilmington, Ohio. This town of 12,000 people drew national attention after it lost 8,000 jobs when DHL closed its doors in 2008 and grounded the 24 cargo planes it operated. When that happened, Wilmington's residents were staring down at a 66% unemployment rate. The first place most people turn to is the government. They look for grants, loans, or just plain handouts. But not the people of Wilmington. They decided they'd do it all on their own without the government involved.

One of the first projects was to establish a prayer group in an abandoned store right in the middle of town. They never quit praying for the town and its people. The 34 churches in town decided they'd all pitch in and keep praying 24 hours a day; seven days a week, without stopping. They're still doing it.

60 Minutes dubbed Wilmington "Ground Zero" for the unemployment crises. They pretty much announced this town "dead on arrival." They're dead wrong at CBS 60 Minutes. Wilmington represents the true American spirit. They look out for one another and work together rebuilding a town they call home. And guess what? The government isn't involved -- the churches are.

The prayers are clearly working! A lady in Wilmington just loved the town's old hotel and was visiting with the owner, telling him how she'd like to save the hotel. He told her he'd like to save it too, but he just didn't have the energy to run it. The lady said she'd like to help, but what could she do. He told her to buy the hotel and she replied that she had no money or she would buy it. The owner said she could buy it and he'd finance the whole deal. They made the deal right then and there and sealed it with a handshake and no contract. She's worked hard and hasn't missed a payment.

A company in North Carolina heard about all the good people in Wilmington and decided to check out the town. They liked the way the people did business in Wilmington, all on a handshake, so they decided to expand their business to Wilmington and hire 25-50 people; all on a handshake.

These stories go on and on as the good folks in Wilmington continue to pray, round the clock and also continue to improve their town. That's a Christmas story to remember.


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