Facing three years in prison, David could not possibly have imagined what God was about to do in his life and in the lives of his children.
If you ask him today, David will say that God saved him by sending him to prison. His life was out of control. Try as he might, he just couldn’t stop drinking.
But from behind prison bars David cried out to his Maker. Being separated from his children had broken him. He was finally ready to change his life.
INCARCERATION TORE DAVID'S FAMILY APART
The separation wasn’t easy on David’s family. His wife and kids were living in a shelter and the kids couldn’t visit him. All that kept David connected to his family during the three years he was in prison were the caring volunteers who reached out to them through Angel Tree®.
David didn’t know where his children were living at the time, but Angel Tree found them. Because of Angel Tree volunteers, David’s daughter Samatha received a game, a puzzle, and a teddy bear that Christmas. His son Josh got a toy dump truck.
But for both kids, the greatest gift was the knowledge that their dad still loved them and was thinking about them.
DAVID'S CHILDREN HAD NOT BEEN FORGOTTEN
Angel Tree helped fill the hole in Josh and Samatha’s hearts. And that Christmas was just the beginning. Back in prison, David grew stronger in his faith. “The next thing I knew, I got hooked on reading the Word of God,” he says. Together with intensive discipleship and help with his addiction to alcohol, Prison Fellowship® made all the difference.
The summer after their Angel Tree Christmas, Josh and Samatha were invited to a week of Angel Tree Camping®, and it was just what they needed. Every year, scholarships provide a way for thousands of Angel Tree children to go to Christian summer camps, where they have the opportunity to have fun, fellowship with their peers, build relationships with caring camp counselors, and experience the love of God in the great outdoors.
“Camp helped encourage them to continue to do better and not feel alone—that they were not the only ones walking down this road,” David says.
While at camp that summer, both kids also committed their lives to Christ.
THE WHOLE FAMILY WANTS TO SERVE THE LORD
What Josh liked most about camp was that he was able to talk to his counselors about his situation. “I think that since other people went through the same experience, we could help each other get through stuff we needed to get through,” he says.
And Samatha? Let’s just say that she loved camp so much she didn’t want to leave.
“She spent the whole car ride home from camp bawling,” David says, who by then had been released from prison and was living at a faith-based reentry program run by one of Prison Fellowship’s ministry partners. Camp had awakened an intense spiritual hunger in Josh and Samatha’s hearts; in-prison programs had reached their father.
Last summer, before a tearful crowd of worshipers at their church, all three were baptized. They’re a family again—a family that serves the Lord.
HOW TO PRAY
David and his kids have just one wish left—that the children’s mother will join them as a follower of Christ. She was recently sent to prison because of a drug conviction and is now at a halfway house.
“I think the Lord has a hold of her too," David says. Samatha is claiming the promise of Acts 16:31, where Paul and Silas told the Philippian jailer, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” She has childlike faith that God can deliver on that promise, which she learned about at camp. She believes it’s only a matter of time.
David and his family are a powerful example that God can impact not just individuals, but whole families—and even entire generations.