Soon after I became CEO of Prison Fellowship Ministries, I met Mark Brenon. Mark is a pastor at Grace Community Church in Magnolia, Texas, and a recent graduate of the Colson Center’s Centurions program, a year-long opportunity for followers of Jesus to deepen their understanding of Christian worldview.
Family matters a lot to Mark. The church he helps to lead is full of large families, and he has four children of his own. But last Christmas, Mark found himself face-to-face with a girl whose reality could not be more different.
Jasmine*, 17, was alone in the world. Her mother was out of the picture and he father was in prison. She lived in a group home. When Grace Community signed up for Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree® program for the first time last year, they committed to serve 40 children – one for each family in the congregation. The Brenon family took the angel tag with Jasmine’s name on it.
When the Brenons delivered Jasmine’s gifts – a book and a high-quality art set mysteriously left over after the gift-wrapping party – they were prepared for her to stay emotionally distant. Not so! When she received the gifts that proclaimed her dad loved her even from far away, Jasmine, a budding artist, burst into tears. Mark’s wife put a consoling arm around her shoulders, and they were able to pray for her.
Mark’s story, dear friends, is what Angel Tree is all about: catalyzing the restoration of relationships between incarcerated parents, their children, and the God who loves them! Has your church signed up for Angel Tree Christmas 2012? Sign-ups are now available, and many more Jasmines are waiting.
*Jasmine’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.