Families Restored

In October, at a large gathering of staff, friends, and supporters, we celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of Prison Fellowship, and we also celebrated my seventy-fifth birthday. One moment I will never forget was the testimony of my daughter, Emily, delivered before my colleagues and family. Emily told how the greatest fear I had upon entering prison in 1974 was the effect that my prison experience would have on my children. I agonized to think of causing them shame or even of having to be apart from them. But, as Emily so movingly told those gathered, through that prison experience and through the work of Jesus Christ in my heart, when I came home from prison, I was a different man. As Emily said, her father had become a better dad for his children and a better husband. Christ changed our family, she said. To hear that from my daughter meant more to me than anything that I could imagine. Today, thirty years since this ministry began, what continues to bring me joy is the privilege of seeing God do the same thing in the lives of others. Thanks to thousands of Prison Fellowship and Angel Tree volunteers across this country, prisoners and their families are being restored through the Gospel. Jaime’s family was the recipient of just that kind of miracle last year. When she went to prison two years ago, struggling with alcohol and drugs, things looked bleak for her, her husband, Mike, and her three children. Shortly after Jaime entered prison, however, Sara Box, the Angel Tree coordinator at First Baptist Church of Great Falls, Montana, began writing to Jaime. At Christmas, Angel Tree volunteers delivered pajamas, slippers, and toys to Jaime’s children. Jaime’s husband, Mike, wrote her in prison to say, “Oh, you should have seen the look on the kids’ faces when they opened the presents. They were so excited.” For Mike, it was a relief to see the kids happy and their minds off their mom being away. But church members didn’t stop at Christmas. Over the next few months, they brought meals to the family and picked up the children for church. And when Jaime was released from prison last March, Sara Box continued to mentor her, earning the nickname, Marvelous Mentor, or M. M. for short. She and her husband Carl also helped Jaime find a job at a local deli. Today, a year later, if you visit First Baptist Great Falls, you’ll see Jaime and Mike and their three kids taking up an entire pew. But even more importantly than this outward change from prison to pew, is the inward change God has worked in Jaime’s heart. Speaking of the role of the church in her life, Jaime says, “They have enabled me to know that as long as I have God in my heart that I can be better and that I will strive to be better.” What better gift can we give at Christmastime than the gift of the Gospel, and the hope of families restored spending Christmas in church and not in prison? To find out more about how you can support or participate in Angel Tree, give us a call at 1-800-55-ANGEL. Who knows? Because of your love, some prisoner may one day hear his daughter testify to the transforming power of the Gospel.  
For Further Reading and Information
Please give a generous gift today to help Angel Tree reach prisoners’ children this Christmas. Call 1-800-55-ANGEL. Learn more about Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree program. Catherine Claire, “How to Grow an Angel Tree,” Prison Fellowship. Catherine Claire, “Mosaic of Mercy,” Angel Tree. “Annabel: A Big Box that Changed Everything,” Angel Tree. “Bank Robber Becomes Angel Tree Founder,” Angel Tree. Charles Colson and Mark Earley, Six Million Angels (Vine Books, 2003). BreakPoint Commentary No. 061208, “The Faith of a Child: Doubt and Belief in The Polar Express.” BreakPoint Commentary No. 061010, “God’s Instruments: Celebrating Thirty Years of Ministry.”


Chuck Colson



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