Bound on Earth, Bound to Heaven
by: Haydee Emilou Ilagan
I was awakened by the tumultuous voice of my brother one Monday morning when he said that our dad was arrested by the police. He did not kill anybody nor committed any criminal offense. It was the ongoing business cases filed against his company.
For the next days and weeks, I caught myself crying and wallowing in a sea of misery and depression. No amount of prayer and counsel took away the pain in my heart. I felt confused, afraid, crushed, abandoned, and unprotected. I could not imagine how Papa can survive standing in the city jail for many weeks and crushed by the bodies of fellow prisoners. He could not even go to the restroom when he needs to and change his sweat-soaked shirt.
Prior to that, my dad used to take me to the National Penitentiary for many years. We signed a waiver before entering the Maximum Security Compound just in case something happens. One full day for every week, our prison ministry team visited and ministered to them.
My friends said I am crazy going there with no assurance of protection whatsoever once someone throws a fit or our lives become endangered because of the environment. Perhaps.
I will never forget the day my dad asked me to preach about God's goodness to them. I saw the tears in their eyes and the pain in their faces. I had no power to do something concrete like getting them out of jail but by just being there to listen to them, pray for them, feed them, clothe them, throw them Christmas parties, give them hope and share Jesus to them makes all the difference.
James 1:27 echoes this: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
I saw many wives, children, and relatives visiting their incarcerated husbands, fathers and loved ones. They had the same facial expressions and the same story of loss, lack, and fatherlessness.
The same story unfolds for every country, race or generation where a father or mother was sentenced to jail. Indefinite separation from parents sets the stage for them to lack guidance and parenting thereby making them prone to a host of emotional trauma, abuse, rejection, and neglect. Couple these with the propensity to engage in illegal activities and addictions to drugs, pornography, sex, gambling, among others.
But, there's good news. After serving time in prison, President Richard Nixon's “hatchet man” Charles Colson was empowered and anointed by God to impact the lives of prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families through the establishment of Prison Fellowship
in 1976. This non-profit ministry aims for the redemption, reconciliation, and restoration of prisoners and their families through the love, power and gospel of Jesus Christ.
Eventually in 1982, ex-bank robber and prisoner Mary Kay Beard founded Angel Tree
in Birmingham, Alabama to help Prison Fellowship
prisoners connect with their families especially children during Christmas. The idea is to allow a sponsor to give a Christmas gift to a child under the name of his own incarcerated parent. In its first year, 556 children were given and to date about 9 million children and 5.2 million inmate parents were ministered to.
There are now 1.7 million children
who have one or both parents in prison.
You can change lives and make a difference right NOW.
Click Angel Tree
to know more details and how you and your church can partner with them.
Imagine what your Christmas gift and prayer can do to one of these kids.
Author: Haydee Emilou Ilagan
FW ID# 60645
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