Christmas greetings…..from Prison
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.
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.
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.
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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