Saturday morning I was in an inner-city elementary school in Washington, D.C., where a friend of my daughter is a teacher. What I saw and heard there broke my heart. Ninety percent of those kids lived in the projects, and despite the earnest efforts of teachers, many of them are reading far below grade level.
I sat down with the school principal and asked her how many of the kids had a parent in prison.
“All of them,” she said.
Doubting my own ears, I asked her to repeat herself, but she confirmed what I had heard. Practically every child in the school has an incarcerated mom or dad!
Incarceration tears apart families from every socioeconomic background, and Angel Tree® is about fostering connections between all these children, their parents, and the Lord. But there’s no denying that incarceration disproportionately affects the poor – to whom Jesus calls us to go! When we serve an inmate and his or her impoverished child, we are responding to two important commands in God’s Word: to “remember the prisoner” and to serve the poor.
Angel Tree is a fantastic opportunity to do that. For a prisoner’s child who lives in poverty, the world may seem dark and confined, but remember: a light shines the brightest in the darkest room! When that child receives a gift, the Gospel, and a message of love from a volunteer on behalf of the parent, the darkness is lifted.
Christmas is just days away now, but there’s still time to be a part of the 2012 Angel Tree Christmas campaign. I invite you to visit www.angeltree.org to give or to learn more about the part you have to play.