Scottie Barnes knows what it is like to grow up without a father present in her life. Her dad was frequently absent, often imprisoned in various units throughout western North Carolina and the Southeast. By the time she was 13, her father was permanently incarcerated.
Scottie was able to reconcile with her father two years before his death in 1987. “It was a cold winter day in January when we left the grave of my father,” Scottie says. “I remember saying these words, ‘If God could ever use the story of his life, I’d share it wherever God wanted it told.'”
The result of this promise is Forgiven Ministry, which seeks to meet the spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of the children of inmates, the inmates themselves, ex-inmates, and their families.”
On August 16, during Forgiven Ministry’s “One Day With God” camp at the Avery Mitchell Correctional Institution in Spruce Pine, North Carolina, Scottie Barnes was awarded Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree Star of Victory award. The annual award recognizes individuals who have overcome a parent’s incarceration to make a difference in the world.
“There’s nothing quite like seeing a group of children run across a prison yard to get a hug from their mom or dad, some for the very first time,” Barnes says in a story on the event appearing in the Asheville Citizen-Times. “At the end of the camp in Spruce Pine, the children had the opportunity to release a balloon into the air to signify they know their daddy loves them and is proud of them. That’s what this camp is all about.”