The holiday season is a time when many of us gather with loved ones, share festive meals, exchange gifts, and create cherished memories. However, for those incarcerated in our nation’s prisons, the Christmas season can be a stark reminder of the loneliness and isolation they endure year-round. It’s a time when the absence of family and friends is particularly emotional, and the cold, unforgiving prison walls seem to close in on them. Many inmates receive no visits or letters, leaving them with little outside contact beyond the faithful volunteers who minister to them, such as Inside Out Recovery, which has been bringing the message of the Gospel to those most often forgotten inside the Putnamville Correctional Facility for 18 years.
The Loneliness of Christmas Behind Bars
The Bible reminds us in Matthew 25:36, “I was in prison, and you came to visit me.” These words from Jesus call us to remember those who are incarcerated, especially during the holiday season when their loneliness is most profound. The isolation felt by inmates is a heavy burden to bear, but there are ways we can bring the love of Christ into their lives and offer hope, even in the darkest of circumstances.
Five Ways to Bring the Love of Christ to Those in Prison
- Volunteer and Visit: One of the most powerful ways to make a difference is by volunteering your time to visit inmates in prison. These visits can provide a lifeline of hope and a reminder of the outside world. Hebrews 13:3 urges us, “Remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison.” Your presence, conversation, and prayers can bring comfort and encouragement.
- Write Letters: Many inmates receive few or no letters from family or friends. Consider writing letters of encouragement, sharing scripture, and offering words of hope. In doing so, you can become a source of light in their lives, reminding them that they are not forgotten.
- Support Prison Ministries: Organizations like Inside Out Recovery are doing incredible work by bringing the message of Christ to inmates. You can support their efforts through donations, volunteering, or participating in their outreach programs. Acts 20:35 reminds us, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
- Pray Without Ceasing: Prayer is a powerful tool for bringing the love of Christ into the lives of inmates. Pray for their safety, healing, and transformation. Pray for their families who also suffer from their absence. James 5:16 reminds us, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
- Support Reentry Programs: Help create a pathway to a better future for those who will eventually be released from prison. Support reentry programs that provide job training, counseling, and housing assistance. By offering a helping hand, you can facilitate their reintegration into society, reducing the cycle of incarceration.
In this season of giving, let us remember those in prison and reflect on the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:40: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” By extending love, compassion, and the message of Christ to those in prison, we bring light to the darkest corners and demonstrate the transformative power of God’s love, even in the most challenging circumstances.