Thursday, November 15, 2012

Gifts to Link Hearts

Karen woke with tears streaming down her face.  Nearly every night, the body-wrenching sobs of her son pierced her soul.  It had been three years since that night, yet she still felt Trevor’s tiny arms grasping with all his might as the officer pulled him away from her.   The guilt and shame were nothing compared to feeling the devastation of her precious child.  Karen knew the blame was rightly placed on her.  She had made foolish choices.  She had known what was right and wrong, but it did not seem that important until Trevor’s pain made it all real.  Wiping the tears away, Karen picked up the Angel Tree material the chaplain shared the day before.   People willing to help her reach out in love to the child she adored?  A glimmer of hope that she might be part of bringing good to her beloved baby propelled her up before the prison bell. 

Karen is a composite picture of the millions of parents in prison today.  In homes around the US, 1.7 million children know the pain of a mother or father living in prison.  Over half of the parents live in excess of one hundred miles from their children and visits are rare if at all.  In reality, children do the same hard time justice demands of parents.  The purposes of God are not imprisoned, though.  His desires for the parents and children are to give them a hope and a future.  God, indeed, owns the harvest of the pain and suffering every sin causes.  As His servants, we are instructed in James 1:27 to visit orphans and widows in their distress.  Prison Fellowship and Angel Tree Ministries coordinate ministries that allow individuals and churches to obey that command and work in this incredible harvest field. 

Each year Angel Tree partners with thousands of churches to reach out to hundreds of thousands of children of inmates .   To a child at Christmas, a gift is much more than just a gift.  It is the tangible essence of that gift we celebrate:  love.  Christ left the glories of heaven to bring His love to a sinful, lost world.  Prison Fellowship uses the Angel Tree ministry to bring that love into the lives of incarcerated parents and children.  The Christmas gift  is a tool that leads to restored relationships.  It is part of a ministry that involves mentoring and discipleship throughout the year.  Won’t you consider how you can share the gifts God has lavished on you with those who need to know His amazing plans and purposes?

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