Forget Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Vixen. Forget Rudolph and the sleigh. These days, Santa Claus rides a Harley-Davidson – or at least that’s how he arrived at the 2012 Angel Tree Christmas party put on by Bethany First Church of the Nazarene.
Dear friends, Let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
Around the country, Angel Tree coordinators and volunteers are busy displaying the love of God to prisoners and their families as they prepare for Christmas.
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.
Eric will tell you it’s not his parents’ fault that he’s in prison. He started using drugs as a teenager and then, before long, he was selling them. When a drug deal went bad, he killed a would-be customer.
“I wasn’t raised like that,” he says.
Rushing through an airport to catch a recent flight, I was able to take advantage of a moving walkway that sped up my journey – and then another. I was about five steps onto the second one when I realized it wasn’t moving.
To say that I am a person who “hates” waiting would be a complete understatement. For me, waiting feels like a total waste of time, an empty void where nothing happens except impatience, frustration, and annoyance. Whether it involves waiting for a scheduled appointment with the doctor, it feels like they purposely make people wait; or waiting for an inattentive driver to respond to the traffic light that has already turned green for at least a second or more; or waiting for my wife to get ready so that we can get to church on time, it does not take much waiting time for me to become thoroughly impatient and irritable.
Washington Nationals’ all-star shortstop Ian Desmond was a major part of the team that returned playoff baseball to the District of Columbia for the first time in 79 years. Now, he is joining Prison Fellowship and Angel Tree to make sure that the children of incarcerated parents aren’t forgotten.
On November 3, Prison Fellowship’s Operation Starting Line (OSL), in cooperation with the Training Center in San Diego, offered prisoners at the Calipatria State Prison in California the chance to enjoy a time of entertainment in the prison yard. Skateboarding and bicycle exhibitions, musical performances, and arm wrestling competitions set the stage for the most important part of the afternoon—a presentation of the Gospel and testimonies from former inmates displaying the transformative power of the Holy Spirit.
When fear and insecurity fill our hearts, we respond with selfish indifference to the needs of our neighbors. But when faith rules our lives, when we have wrestled with God and found Him true, we become secure in His ability to care for us, and we cease to doubt and fear.
Through a partnership with the Fellowship of Fathers Foundation, 25,000 copies of a new bestselling book about fatherhood will be made available to Angel Tree dads this Christmas.
In the opening pages of Be a Better Dad Today! 10 Tools Every Father Needs, author Gregory Slayton writes, “I didn’t have much of a dad growing up.
Is your family considering participating in the Angel Tree program at your church this Christmas? If so, Prison Fellowship has a new resource available online that will help parents share with their kids the importance of serving families with a mother or a father in prison.
In a recent opinion piece in The New York Times, writer Hanna Pylvainen asks the provocative question, “What do I owe my neighbor?” She wrestles with this problem after an acquaintance on her block asks him to bail him out of jail, and her deliberations are only complicated when Hurricane Sandy rips through New York, possibly endangering the inmate population of Rikers Island – her neighbor included.
A new faith-based dormitory is scheduled to open at the Muskegon Correctional Facility in Michigan later this month. The facility will be run by Prison Fellowship staff, and will seek to prepare inmates to return to life outside of prison, fully reconciled to their families and their communities.
A quotation often attributed to Blaise Pascal came to mind this past week – “there is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator.”1
I had been reading a newspaper article about a provocative new book that examines the relationship between a person’s image of God and their attitudes to economics, justice, social morality, politics, love and life in general.2 “It is the shape of God,” I said to myself “and how that affects my interaction with the world – my worldview.”