The weather threatened to cancel the party. Temperatures hovered below freezing, the roads a mess the evening before. At 7 in the morning, we weren't even sure church would proceed as normal. But we moved forward with our plans, hoping to welcome more than 30 Angel Tree kids and their families that afternoon.
For the bulk of the past 10 years, I’ve been on one side of Angel Tree®. As a writer for Prison Fellowship® on a national level, I get to hear and write about all of the amazing things that happen during December and beyond, as children and incarcerated parents around the country reconnect through gifts purchased and delivered by volunteers.
The three months between the murder and his apprehension were a living hell.
"I tried to stay drunk or high to numb out my feelings of worthlessness," admits Bryan Kelley.
On July 7, a young African-American man gunned down five police officers, and injured 11 others, including two civilians, at the conclusion of what had been a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest. The incident followed a series of police shootings of African-American men earlier in the year.
According to this article, it's not uncommon for minors to be tried as adults in New Jersey. It's even less uncommon for them to be a minority.
Here's how it works:
If a young person—under the age of 18—commits a serious-enough crime, like robbery, drug trafficking, or murder, a county prosecutor can petition the court to try the minor as an adult.
At the end of the summer, Joe, long-time Angel Tree coordinator from Colorado, received a letter. It was from 17-year-old DuPree.
“I would like to thank you again for another amazing year at camp. I actually would like to thank you for the 8 years you have sponsored me and given me the opportunity to enjoy fun activities, meet awesome, encouraging people, and become closer to Christ …”
DuPree’s father went to prison when he was a toddler.
Once a hell-bent prodigal, Eric is now bent on staying faithful in the small things, serving as a leader in is church, and being a consistent presence in his kids’ lives.
In June, six women graduated from Prison Fellowship’s InnerChange Freedom Initiative (IFI), an intensive faith-based program, at Minnesota Correctional Facility in Shakopee. One of the graduates shared how participating in the program has changed her entire perspective:
“Before coming to IFI, I was a self-centered, egocentric, selfish woman.
Christianity Today dedicated its September issue to the topic of evangelicals and their ministry to those impacted by crime and incarceration. One excellent article–How Churches Change the Equation for Life After Prison–highlighted the fact that over the past several decades, Christians have entered the arena of prison ministry in hordes, but their focus has been largely on evangelism and discipleship–impact on an individual and heart level–while areas like reentry and criminal justice reform have been largely untouched.
In August 2015, Prison Fellowship and Willow Creek collaborated to bring The Global Leadership Summit (GLS) to more than 1,500 prisoners at 11 prisons. Just last week—at the 2016 Summit—more than 4,000 incarcerated men and women streamed in from 43 prisons across the country.