Angelic Intervention

James was only fourteen years old -- but it wasn't difficult to predict what he would become when he grew up. He'd probably end up in prison. James lives in one of New Jersey's tougher inner-city neighborhoods. His father is already in prison, and the experts will tell you that James is destined for gang life -- and then life behind bars. But this dismal scenario was interrupted by what you might call a little angelic intervention. James' father -- in prison -- signed him up for Angel Tree, Prison Fellowship's gift-giving program for the children of prisoners. But, receiving a Christmas gift -- good as that was, because James knew his father still loved him -- turned out to be just the beginning. Last summer, Angel Tree sent James to a Christian camp. That week at camp, between hiking and singing around the campfire, James committed his life to Jesus Christ. I learned about this when I was in Philadelphia recently. I was chatting with a few people after a Prison Fellowship event when I felt a tap on my shoulder. Turning around, I saw a woman standing quietly behind me -- her eyes full of tears. She said to me, "I'm so grateful to you, Mr. Colson, and to Angel Tree and to Prison Fellowship. My fourteen- year-old grandson went to your camp last summer, and he was saved. Now he's out on the streets reading the Bible to people and evangelizing!" James was standing right beside her, and I spent a few minutes talking with him. This tall young man -- once the natural prey of gangs -- had a light in his eyes and a purpose in his life that could only come from knowing Christ. James told me how excited he was to be witnessing to kids in the gang. Life-changing stories like these are the reason we've decided to expand our outreach to children. A few weeks ago, Prison Fellowship launched a program called Evergreen Youth Ministries. It will minister year-round to children of prisoners. These kids desperately need us. Nearly two million of them have a parent behind bars. And the heartbreaking truth is that they tend to follow their parent's example. The leading indicator of future criminal behavior is having a parent in prison. And living, as most do, in low-income urban neighborhoods, these kids are the most severely at-risk group in America. They're casualties of poverty, neglect, illiteracy, substance abuse, and the lack of proper moral training. No wonder they grow up to join the family business: crime. Evergreen turns Christians into spiritual career counselors for at-risk children. Church volunteers mentor Angel Tree children one-on-one. Local churches then invite them to get involved in their youth choirs, sports teams, and Sunday School classes. During the summer, kids receive Rich and Helen DeVos camp scholarships so they can attend Christian camps where spiritual lessons are served up with hotdogs and hamburgers. If we're serious about breaking the cycle of crime, we have got to do more than just bring Christmas gifts to prisoners' children once a year -- good as that is. We have to bring them God's love throughout the year. Won't you help us in this great work? You can do it today by purchasing a box of Angel Tree Christmas cards. Call us here at BreakPoint and we'll tell you how to order them. You'll be helping kids like James get out of the "family business" -- and into a joyous new life, serving Christ.


Chuck Colson


  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary