Today, a church friend and I visited eight different families in four different towns, who, between them are responsible for the care of 14 children having a parent in prison. Some of the children’s caretakers were the other parent, or maybe a grandparent, brother, sister, or in some cases we didn’t know the relationship. We simply came in the name of Jesus Christ, bearing Christmas gifts for the children.
Our church usually helps in the purchase of the gifts, but this year one of our church families felt led to purchase all the gifts. The gifts for the children are ones the incarcerated parent suggests. We wrap the gifts at church, and besides the gifts, we give each family a dozen homemade cookies, and a Bible. If the childs caretaker approves, the gifts are given to the children as from their mother, or father. The names of the families’ and their gifts are divided among those of us who want to deliver. This year we gave gifts, and delivered to over 40 children in our area.
Chuck Colson was Special Counsel to President Richard Nixon, from 1969—1973. In the politics of Washington DC, Colson was a “hatchet man,” who let nothing come between him and his loyalty to the President. Whether people personally knew Colson, or only knew of him, most feared the man. But, the Watergate scandal broke, and as an aftermath authorities charged Colson with obstruction of justice, and he received a sentence of one to three years in federal prison.
However, in 1973, before he went to prison Jesus Christ called, and Colson became a Christian. He went to prison with the conviction that the time he was there would not be wasted. He served seven months, and developed a burden for the condition of prisons, the prisoners, and their families. After his release he founded Prison Fellowship, which today is a world wide ministry, and Angel Tree is part of that ministry.
After we give the gifts we attempt to foster a follow up ministry. This allows us to fellowship with a family, and help meet physical and spiritual needs. Our church has sent some of the children to church camp, or had a roller skating party and invited them. This helps them temporarily escape from a life of little joy, or hope, many of them experience.
Prison Fellowship is based on the context of Matthew 25: 31—46, where Jesus expounds about visiting and feeding prisoners. Simply Google Prison Fellowship, if you desire more information.