USA (MNN) — In prison, you don’t have to be on solitary confinement to feel alone and forgotten. Almost 70 percent of inmates in the United States lose all contact with anyone in the outside world.
This loneliness epidemic among prisoners is most evident at Christmas. That’s why Crossroads Prison Ministries works extra hard during the holiday season to let incarcerated men and women know they are loved.
“Each of the inmates that we are serving will be getting a Christmas card from Crossroads. This year, it will be signed by all of our staff. It comes to them as a tangible reminder that they have not been forgotten by society or by God,” says Lisa Blystra, Crossroads’ President and CEO.
Crossroads will mail over 17,000 Christmas letters to inmates in 2,300 facilities across the US. The responses they get back make it all worth it.
“It’s always fun when we come back from our Christmas break. We will be receiving lots of mail from our students thanking us for these cards, telling us that this is the only communication they had from anybody wishing them a Merry Christmas and reminding them that Jesus did come for them.”
Blystra reflects, “As we approach the Advent season, we are mindful [of] the birth of Jesus — a Savior who was born into a stable, who left His throne in Heaven and entered into a messy and broken world. His attention was focused on the very people that society tends to ignore, and that would be the prisoner.”
In the past, Crossroads allowed volunteers to prepare Christmas cards outside the office and bring them in for mailing. But due to strict prison mail restrictions, several of the cards weren’t delivered.
So this year, Crossroads volunteers will prepare the Christmas cards in-office. This will ensure better quality control so each card reaches its recipient in the prisons.
Blystra says they could use more financial support for the Christmas card mailing. Every donation means another inmate will know their Heavenly Father’s love this Christmas.
You can give at the Crossroads website here.
Also, if you live in the West Michigan area, you can even join them as a Christmas card prep volunteer.
“Then long-term, obviously, the program that we offer is that we connect prisoners to mentors — volunteers on the outside that do Bible studies through the mail and encourage them throughout the rest of the year.”
Ultimately this holiday season, Blystra says, “Our prayer would be that these are received with not only the words of encouragement that are written on the cards, but also with a real sense of clarity that they come with an expression of Jesus’s love for each and every person that finds themselves in prison.”
Header photo courtesy of Crossroads Prison Ministries.