Christmas Hope connects parents in prison with their children through the delivery of Christmas gifts. In most cases, local church volunteers purchase and deliver gifts and the Gospel to children in the name of their prisoner-parent. Many churches make an annual commitment to this highly rewarding program and recognize it as a way to care for some of the most overlooked members of our communities.
It’s Sunday afternoon and five-year-old James is playing in the waiting area while his grandparents have their paperwork checked. The room is filled with family members waiting to be called. Some look tired from the long drive while others seem anxious. They make this trip regularly and are concerned for the well-being of their loved one. But this is precious time, and each will make the most of it. The clock shows 2pm and an Officer calls them through the security gates. James hesitates. His grandfather holds his hand as they walk through the large metal gates and past the scary dogs. James rubs his eyes as he is led into a bright room. The tables there have board games and coloring books, but James holds onto his grandfather. At the end is a closed door. James stares at it, waiting. Finally, it opens, and the women prisoners come in. James’s face lights up. His hands reach out as he runs.
Instead of having fond recollections of growing up in a traditional family setting, children like James remember the times spent with their mum once a month. They recall the awkward hugs and trying to hold back the tears as their mum was led away to that closed door. Children like James grow up with the stigma that their mum’s “home’ is a place that society considers disgraceful. They feel ashamed and rejected, angry and confused, alone in a world that doesn’t really understand their situation. “Mummy.” At Prison Fellowship we care about families of prisoners who are committed to making regular visits. This is a vital part of our ministry. As one mum said ‘The relationship I have with my family worker has been crucial to getting me through this awful time. My family member in prison is supported by PF staff and that’s helped us stay connected as a family.’
James is just one of crime’s Invisible victims. There are many like him, ranging from several weeks to 18 years-old with a mum in prison. The family is torn apart and often grandparents fill the parental roles. Children have to deal with the emotional effects of their mum’s decisions. Many have difficulty understanding why their mum would want to be away from them and some will think it’s their fault. Some have vivid memories of visiting their mum inside or living in the foster care system. Pray with us that we will secure the resources to appoint another Family Worker to help bring the Hope of Jesus to broken families.
Sycamore Tree Project: Justice and Peace®: Justice and Peace
The Sycamore Tree Project: Justice and Peace®: Justice and Peace helps repair the harm caused by crime by bringing together victims and prisoners to discuss issues related to crime and its consequences.
Week of Prayer
The Annual Week of Prayer can be observed at any time during the year. The week is designed as a special occasion for Prison Fellowship to communicate and connect with churches and the community in order to focus on ministry among prisoners, ex-prisoners, the families of prisoners, and victims of crime.
Hope Works/Second Chances
- Prisons Visited: 4
- Prisoners Served: 89
- Children of Prisoners Served: 480
- Churches Engaged: 20
- Paid Staff: 10
- Volunteers: 104
- Ex-Prisoners: 287