By James D'Amato
CR Inside SW Team Lead
In December 2016, Valley Baptist Celebrate Recovery, in Partnership with Prison Fellowship Angel Tree, invited all of the families located in Kern County, CA that were receiving gifts from the Angel Tree program to a Christmas Celebration. This event started from a meeting with Janice Little, Prison Fellowship Area Director and James D’Amato, CR Inside SW Regional Team Lead and his wife Debbie D’Amato, who are both Ministry Leader’s for CR at Valley Baptist located in Bakersfield, California.
Prison Fellowship stated that they did not have enough church’s available to distribute all of the gifts in the Kern County area. So James contacted all of the area CR’s and organized an event on Valley Baptist’s regular CR night. We ended up getting seven local CR’s involved in helping out. We had over 80 families attend with over 225 total in attendance.
We held it on our regular CR night which helped us, not only to distribute the gifts, but to expose the families to what CR and CR Inside is and how it can help the families of the incarcerated. Each family got to see how CR and CR Inside works, which included exposure to Celebration Place and the Landing. It was a time for CR and the Church to show them the love of Christ, which some haven’t felt in a long time.
We ran it just like our regular CR with a Christmas Dinner fellowship time, worship time, CR Inside video, and the other tools that we use each week at CR. At the end of the night, we distributed the gifts provided by various churches in the area to all for the families in attendance. The kids got to see a Holiday movie, do some face-painting and received small gifts that were donated by local churches.
It was a blessing to see all of the CR’s attend and the volunteer’s help in every area of the event. But it did not stop there. There were about 50 families that could not attend and so the CR’s that joined to help took the gifts for the families that were in their area of their CR, and distributed the gifts to the families home where they prayed, ministered and invited the families to come to their local CR and Church.
It was an exciting and memorable evening that affected the hearts of all those in attendance and all of the volunteers. It was also an opportunity for CR, CR Inside, Prison Fellowship, and the Church to work together for one cause – it was looking at Principle 8 and Step 12 in action!
By Randal Greer
Louisiana CR Inside State Rep
We were at Tallulah Women’s Prison for our Purpose Driven Church and I was speaking on Love, when all of a sudden a women stood up and interrupted me and said “Mr. Randal, this girl is mean. She is just mean. She steals my commissary and stuff off my bed, and beats up on every body. How am I supposed to love some body like that?” Well I lost it! Every train of thought left me and all I could think to say is, “Go back to her, don’t even look at her, and say Jesus loves you so do I”. She said, “Is that all?” and I said, “Yes”.
The very next week we were there again and this same lady, Melissa, came up to me with a BIG black eye and said, “This is your fault! She hit me. I told you she was mean!” Needless to say I told her to do the same thing and look at her this time and say, “Jesus loves you so do I“. With a little hesitation she said, “ok”, and walked off.
The following week we were there again, and Melissa come running up to me crying. One of her black eyes was healing, but now she had another one. “Oh my goodness”, I said, “not again?”. She said, “Yes, and I’m NOT going to tell her anything else!” I said, “Melissa you have to. Go back and look at her again and tell her, Jesus loves you so do I, but this time please duck”. With a lot of hesitation she said, “ok” and walked off.
Two weeks went by and we were back at Tallulah baptizing the ladies that had come to know Jesus. All of a sudden two sets of fingers began tapping me on my shoulder. Arm in arm, it was Melissa and this girl named Tonya. Tonya said, “Mr. Randal please, I want to be baptized. I’m not mean anymore. Jesus saved me!”.
What a Mighty message of Love. Arm in arm, I baptized these ladies into Jesus.