Last week, ABC News’ “Nightline” program aired a story about the “One Day with God” program at E. C. Brooks Correctional Facility in Michigan. Forgiven Ministry, a ministry partner with Prison Fellowship, organized the program. To watch the video, click here.
ABC’s “Nightline” has filmed a special segment about an incarcerated man named Johnny who met his 8-year-old daughter for the very first time.
One day in early November, Nightline’s Juju Chang showed up at Earnest C. Brooks Correctional Facility in Muskegon, Michigan, for “One Day with God,” a day-long camp hosted by Forgiven Ministry that gives incarcerated parents the opportunity to spend time with and reconcile with their children.
One of the participants was Johnny, who is serving a life sentence for second degree murder. Johnny went to prison before his daughter Arkinya was born. While in prison, Johnny began to make some positive changes in his life, including enrolling and participating in one of Prison Fellowship’s intensive programs. During this time, Johnny didn’t have any contact with Arkinya, because he had lost touch with Arkinya’s mother Chekesha. But earlier in the year, Chekesha, who lives in Florida, tracked him down to let him know that his daughter wanted to get know her daddy.
“My father was in prison when I was a kid,” Chekesha explained. “I knew what it was like. I put myself in my daughter’s shoes.” So starting in April, Arkinya began calling Johnny on the phone to chat, but the two never met in person … until they learned about the opportunity with “One Day with God.”
The moment that Arkinya walked through the doors of the prison and into Johnny’s arms was a truly remarkable moment, said Scottie Barnes, director of Forgiven Ministry. Although Arkinya was shy in front of the cameras, Johnny wrapped his arms around his daughter and began apologizing to her. “Everyone was tearing up,” said Chekesha.
At the end of the event, Arkinya clung to her father, not wanting to let go. “She cried the entire night after that day,” Chekesha said. Arkinya later told Chekesha that she would prefer to visit her daddy on her birthday than go to Disney World.
The meeting of Johnny and Arkinya was just one of the remarkable reunions that happened that day, including a situation where two boys were reconnected with their dad whom they hadn’t seen in 10 years.
“Of all the camps we did, there was an anointing and an empowering on that camp that I’ve never seen before,” Barnes said. “Every minute was a revival.”