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Dec
24

WHATS IN THIS BLOG:
• Filling 450 Christmas gift packs.
• Delivering them to a women’s prison.

This blog falls in the category of Inspiration and Hope. My other two blog categories are Science and Energy, and Health and Hiking.

DAY 1: WAS SPENT FILLING 450 BAGGIES WITH GIFTS FOR CHRISTMAS: Candies such as Reese’s Peanut Butter, tracts which share the gospel of Jesus, a New Testament, and a pair of white tennis socks. Woops I nearly forgot: Rice Crispies, and Oreo cookies, and a Bible study guide.

Well-organized team effort to fill 450 Christmas gift packs.

The organizer was Don Compton of Shalom Ministries, which has had a prison ministry for 45 years. Don began his ministry by witnessing to the hippies who lived in communes in the mountains around Santa Fe in early 1970s. Many of the hippies became Christians, and have developed their own ministries. One oversees five Messianic synagogues in Israel. Another is a counselor in Albuquerque.

AFTER A PIZZA LUNCH, TEN VOLUNTEERS, AGED 6 TO 76, were the crew who packaged up the gifts, and placed them into bankers boxes….45 hefty boxes with 10 gift packs per box. It was all done in a little over two hours.

Don’s grand-daughter Abbie doing her bit in the packing line.

DAY 2: I DROVE WITH DON TO THE WOMEN’S PRISON, where we met three other volunteers. We had to be escorted everywhere: first to sign in, then to the cafeteria where the boxes were unloaded. We set up a receiving line to welcome the inmates and to present them with a gift pack.

After they had eaten, the inmates in their orange jumpsuits came through the line. This was a moving experience. I blinked back tears a few times, as the faces of inmates revealed their sincere thanks. Not all of them, but the vast majority. I said Merry Christmas mostly, while volunteers beside me said God bless you. Most of the inmates responded in kind, with Merry Christmas or God bless you, or both. And a warm handshake.

I was surprised that the majority of the women were young, under 35 it seemed to me. I was told that most had children on the outside. I asked what were their crimes, and the answer given was drugs mainly. Some were in because they helped their husbands who were drug dealers. Most sentences were less than 3 years.

SEVERAL OF THE WOMEN WORE LARGE WHITE CROSSES ON CHAIN NECKLACES. Not surprisingly, they seemed to have a rapport with the chaplain, a large but gentle man. The chaplain had coordinated this gift-giving with Don.

We were only allowed to shake hands with the inmates….no hugs. Security rules.

Don Compton with two grandkids Toby and Abbie.

This was a memorable Christmas gift-giving. And what I received in return was the spontaneous shine on so many inmate faces. It was a wonderful example of a team helping someone to hope.

IF YOU’D LIKE TO DONATE TO SHALOM MINISTRIES, to support this continuing prison ministry, the address is Shalom Ministries, PO Box 90910, Albuquerque, NM 87199-0910.

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The Gray Nomad ….. help someone to hope.
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For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to see me. [Book of Matthew, chapter 25].

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11 Responses to Christmas greetings…..from Prison

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  2. ian dexter palmer |

    Post-script 1: I heard last nite that the Thomas fire north of Los Angeles is now the LARGEST fire ever in California. Its totally abnormal that such a fire occurred, and is still burning, in December rather than summer.

    Post-script 2: Large areas of New Mexico, including Albuquerque, have had NO RAIN for two and a half months. And the temperature this December, including for the next 10 days, was/will be over 50 F (except for just a couple of days). This is UNHEARD OF this time of year.

    If you want to see more data and evidence for global warming, see two blogs ago (early December 2017).

  3. Thanks for your ecouraging message Ian. It truly is more blessed to give than receive. God bless and Merry Christmas, John and Sally.

    • Yes, and you’ve always been a giver, John. Psychologists say if feeling down or depressed the best thing to pull out of it is to help or give to somebody else….. and it works.

    • It was a wonderful experience Karen. And an eye-opener to how such a little gift can mean so much to a group of people who have so little. A big thank-you to Shalom Ministries and Don Compton for the vision to do this.

  4. Julian Pfitzner |

    Well done, Ian, to you and the members of Shalom Ministries. I was able to help prepare and deliver some Christmas hampers to migrants and refugees through the St Vincent de Paul Society and I helped my wife, working with our local Catholic church, pack and deliver 225 hampers for poor people in Adelaide. Australia is a rich country but not everyone shares in the riches. Giving to others at Christmas is our way of thanking God for the gift of his son, Jesus.

    • I love to hear what church and related ministries are doing to help the marginal people in our society, as you have shared Julian. Its where the rubber meets the Jesus-road, I think.

  5. So sad how drugs have been such a huge stumbling block to families and children especially. Having been brought up in a home that misused alcohol, I know the trauma it causes even if the person is not sent to prison. Why we insist on getting high, I will never know. It’s not really that much fun. Thanks for sharing this story and being there for these ladies. You are a blessing.

    • Yes, the prison inmates seemed to genuinely appreciate the Christmas gift package – at least most of them. It was quite a commitment by a few people. On my birthday I had no plans with friends or family, so I spent 2 hrs helping a few people serve Sunday lunch to over 200 homeless folks. I was quite tired after wiping dishes, cleaning tabletops and sweeping floors. My pastor on the same Sunday said Bible studies and church are great (God serves us) but helping others that need tangible help is like serving God. I think he has a point, and I haven’t done enough of this in my life.

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