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!