Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners.
I had the privilege to participate in an Angel Tree Party last Saturday. It’s a Christmas party for children of prisoners and their families. Before entering the prison, we waited in a line outside. Every volunteer and family member must be searched, and patted down. Cell phones, and pretty much all personal items are not allowed inside. After all the necessary safety precautions, we joined the party that was already in full swing.
Christmas music was playing. There was dancing, games, food, prizes, smiling children, and smiling dads. Local churches partner with Angel Tree to make it a fun, festive, happy occasion. Myself and a few friends from my small group helped with the craft area. Kids got to decorate a holiday frame with a picture of their dad. These kids were so precious, and so happy to be with their dads. There were little bitty toddlers all the way up to teenagers. So many of the children put “I Love My Dad” on their picture frames.
The kids are only allowed to see their fathers twice a year. Once at the Angel Tree Party, and once in June, around Father’s Day. That’s it. No children are permitted in the prison beyond those two days. So this party was a big deal and a very special time for all the families involved. There were also many wives, girlfriends, moms, and grandmas there.
Angel Tree is a year round organization under Prison Fellowship. Angel Tree has camps, mentoring, and sports clinics. There are over 2.7 million children of incarcerated parents in the U.S. Imagine the fear, shame, and loneliness that these kids must experience. Angel Tree is a blessing to these dear children.
I loved being involved with one tiny part of Angel Tree, but I only helped for a few hours. The real heroes are those who serve in this ministry year round. Like my sweet friend Holly. Some people wear their hearts on their sleeves, Holly is just all heart. She leads a men’s group at this prison called Alpha. It’s a mentoring/discipleship program. We got to meet some of the men in Holly’s group and she’s so proud of these guys. How awesome to have someone rooting for you when so many in your life have not.
This prison is for men who have done their time and been reformed. It’s a Christian program that gets these guys ready to go back into the world upon release as leaders and contributors to society. This special program allows only the select few to participate. These men know Jesus and they are forever changed. Gang bangers, murderers, dealers, and all kinds of hardened criminals radically changed by Jesus Christ. That’s the Gospel. The Good News. That’s the hope for all of us.
Jesus is not a respecter of persons. Jesus came for sinners like me and you.
On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17
Please remember those in prison. Prisoners need the love of Jesus just as much as your co-workers and neighbors. Pray for prisoners. Pray for their children and wives and families. Pray for ministries like Prison Fellowship.
I was in prison and you came to visit me. Matthew 25:36
As I looked at the dads in white clothing, many covered in gang tattoos, I saw my brothers in Christ. I saw hope in their faces. I saw love for their children and wives. That room was filled with the Holy Spirit. It didn’t matter that we were behind prison walls. That won’t stop Jesus. Nothing can, except a hard heart. Let’s pray for soft hearts to the gospel.
“The ground is level at the foot of the cross.” Chuck Colson, Founder Prison Fellowship
Love you all,
Praising God in Prison by Meghan E. White
Image by Ichigo121212 from Pixabay