Angel Tree 2019
Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree is a program designed to restore families by bridging the
relationship gap between a child and his or her incarcerated parent. Many times the children arein the care of a now single parent, a grandparent, other relative, or a family friend. Some of the children do not know the parent is in prison while others are aware and may struggle with behavioral issues because of it. A few are able to visit their parent but only infrequently, due to the high emotional and logistical burden, as well as the cost of travel. With Angel Tree, these children are able to receive a gift from their parent and get some comfort knowing their parent hasn’t forgotten them at Christmas.
How does it work? Early in the year, through the prison chaplain, incarcerated moms and dads apply to have a local church deliver gifts to their child(ren) on their behalf. This is the Well’s third year participating, and nine of our community groups are serving 30 children in 19 different families! We have many families in Silver Spring and others as far north as Baltimore and as far south as Oxon Hill, Maryland. When our teams bring the gifts, they also bring a Bible and have the chance to share the gospel message. Even though this can be a challenging time, we want them to know the hope we have in Jesus at Christmas and throughout the year.
During some deliveries, connections are made, and we are able to spend time with the families, hearing their stories and sharing from our lives as well. Other times the deliveries are short and seemingly uneventful. Whatever happens, it’s our prayer that God uses each of these interactions to draw the child closer to his or her parent and the entire family closer to our Savior.
What happens after Christmas? Community groups write an encouraging letter to the prisoner letting them know their child received their gifts. In the past, it has been a special treat to receive responses from grateful parents! Angel Tree churches can also go Beyond Christmas by involving the families in the activities and life of the church. This year:
- One community group invited its Angel Tree families to their family gatherings, bowling
and dinner event.
- One couple has continued to engage with one mother and is delivering to them again this
- We have delivered gifts to nine of the same children as last year!
Going Beyond Christmas could also mean mentoring a child, providing transportation to the prison for visits, or encouraging the prisoner while incarcerated and during the transition to civilian life. It’s my prayer that all of the families we serve will experience God’s love and that we can continue to love on these families throughout the year.
Prison Fellowship: www.prisonfellowship.org
Angel Tree: www.prisonfellowship.org/about/angel-tree
Beyond Christmas: https://www.prisonfellowship.org/resources/angel-tree/ministry-ideas/