Restrained behind bars, with contact rarely initiated by those in the free world, how do inmates find encouragement and hope? Christmas Behind Bars is one solution to share hope to those locked away. Started by former inmate Lemuel Vega, this ministry uses goody-packed Christmas bags to introduce the gospel of Jesus Christ. The prisoners who receive these bags may remain behind bars of iron for years. Nevertheless, this program is is designed to release those prisoners from the invisible bars of guilt and shame.
The bag packing event involved hundreds of participants at the sixth Change Day event at Andrews University. Pastor Dennis Page from Village Seventh-day Adventist Church, a former federal inmate, orchestrated the stuffing of 8,600 bags to send to prisoners behind bars. The bags were sent to four state prisons and one county jail.
Andrews University students, faculty, staff, Village SDA Church staff, and Village Elementary School 5th and 6th grades, all teamed up on five production lines and filled thousands of bags in only a few hours. The bags included sweet treats, nutritious delights, and sweet words of courage. Literature put in the bags included spiritual books and pamphlets, free book offers, and encouraging “thinking of you” cards written by children.
Christ told his disciples: “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me” (Matthew 25:34-36). Years ago, one small church reached out to Lemuel when he was in prison and introduced the gospel that changed his life. He now actively works to free others who need light shown in the darkness. Please pray that these packages work to bring hope to the minds of those who are physically restrained but still have the opportunity to become spiritually unshackled.
To find out more about Christmas Behind bars, you can visit their website at christmasbehindbars.org. They have a section on their website where you can request a free information packet be sent to a loved one who is in prison.
Author: Robert Rice, Bible Worker at Village SDA Church
Another version of this article was previously published online by the Lake Union Herald and the Adventist Review.