christmas in the pokey

I’m talking about bringing the holidays into the big house. Jesus’ birthday in jail. Holly Lock up! Jingle bells behind bars. And so on…

Incarcerated Christmas

the wccc in kailua

But seriously, all joking and cheap attention-grabbing aside, it’s been a good week with great acts of giving to chat about.

The Women’s group at my beloved church, Hope Chapel Kaneohe, aptly called the Women of Hope, recently participated in an interesting Christmas-related drive.  We collected hygiene items, basic toiletries, some chocolate and other simple, nice, feminine gifts to help supplement the holiday presents female inmates will receive this year at the Women’s Community Correctional Center in Kailua.

I know that might sound weird to some.  In fact, a couple people have expressed to me how odd they find this idea.  But Prison Ministry is no new concept, and well, people in jail are still people.

A rant on my personal beliefs:

As an American, I believe in our corrections system.  I believe that jail can and should rehabilitate people so that after serving sentences they can return to society.  How is that to happen if incarcerated people are treated like lepers?  Aren’t given any love? What’s the motivation to get out and assimilate into law-abiding culture if the average American won’t touch you with a ten foot pole.

I believe that love goes a long way in the rehabilitation process.  And that it’s a necessary ingredient in creating well-adjusted citizens, in general.  We all need love.

Now, I know that folks are locked up for a reason.  They’re not all lily white and innocent.  I get that, c’mon, I’m far from dumb.  But people are people.  And people need love.

And pssst Christians, we’re called to love everyone!  Even those behind bars.


Onto the gift giving:

I am so humbled and honored by the friends who came by my house and dropped off items to give, the people who literally wired money to me and sent me carepacks of toiletries.  I’ve literally been bowled over by the generosity I’ve witnessed this holiday season.   Even in the toughest of times, people are still finding a way to reach down and give out.  It’s so beautiful and amazing.  And I’m just honored to be a part of this.

There are roughly 300 women in the Kailua WCCC at any given time; currently there are about 260 lady inmates.  Every single one of them, even those in lock down units, will receive a gift bag this year for the holidays.  The donated hygiene items will be essential for many of these women.  And for too many, it will be the only gift they receive all year.

I am so spoiled with love.  I literally cannot imagine spending a whole year in a place as dark, scary and lonely as prison and then only being loved on once.   It breaks my heart and it makes me wonder about the crime cycle and the derivatives of criminal activity.  The optimist prime in me knows that love and kindness can break that cycle, and prevent people from going down that road in the first place.   I mean, I obviously have no study to cite on this one, but I just imagine how broken and angry, how lash-y out-y I’d be if I was relegated to a cell and ignored.

My friends gave me all kinds of goodies, shampoos and nice lotions.

salon samples of super high end products, nice!

kenny helped buy all of these bottles, thank you kenny! i think maggie's are in here too. you two ROCK!

We collected all the items at the Women’s event held on Monday, An Evening In December.  It was an awesome night of praise, worship, fellowship and a fired up message from guest speaker/local celebrity Dawn O’Brien, from FM 99.5 “The Fish.”

On Wednesday, Pastor Tami, the women’s pastor at HCKB, drove all of the goodies up to the WCCC where my friend Chiffon and I met her.  The two Pastors from the Correction Facility’s Chapel, along with a couple inmates came out to the car to get everything from us.

tami's car was stuffed!

We all held hands and prayed together in the parking lot.  Seeing the excitement and glee come over the faces of the ladies receiving these gifts was priceless.  That was my Christmas present right there.   They called me “sister,” and they asked God to Bless me.  I have no idea who they are, or what anything in their past could be…. but when they thanked me, and prayed with me and called me sister, I had never been more affirmed of the importance this type of giving, ever.

the entrance of the facility

chiffon and me, by all of the stuff!!

chiffon, one of the women's pastors, me, pastor tami from church, and pastor tami from the wccc

I’m also feeling really called to go work in the system, hopefully with women or at the youth facility.  Getting to meet the Pastors who work inside the jail and talk to them, and hear their excitement at new volunteers was really motivating too!

To everyone who bought items, gave money, brought things in: THANK YOU SO MUCH!  It was truly a successful drive, and the holidays of so many women will be blessed.  They also will use some of the items to gift to women when they get out, as they go to a halfway house or what have you, so these blessing will keep on going and keep on giving, all year long!

And for reading my little blog, as always, thank you!!

xoxo, hhr 


7 responses

  1. I’ll say it again. You’re awesome. I know, I say that to everyone, because it’s true. But I’m saying it right now, to you,. because it beams out like the sun coming over a hill at daybreak.

    “I know that might sound weird to some. In fact, a couple people have expressed to me how odd they find this idea.” I wish I could convey how odd that sounds to me.
    “But Prison Ministry is no new concept, and well, people in jail are still people.” Boy, howdy.

    Jesus focused us on two commandments.
    1) Love God with everything in you.
    2) This one is like the last one. Love your neighbor as yourself. (The parable of the mugger makes it pretty clear we’re all neighbors)– even (especially) the one we might want to despise.

    So… Love God. Love yourself[1] in a similar fashion.[2] Love your neighbors[3] that much, too.

    Beyond that, in Mt 25:31-46, we find Jesus talking about visiting people in prison as a pretty big deal. (Note: I don’t see this as a passage about “What you must do to get to heaven (works), but about our actions showing who we really are. This implies that if we truly love Jesus, these things come naturally.)

    So, you go, girl!

    [1] Once you realize and focus on the fact you are made in God’s image, and that because of what Jesus did, that’s how God sees you, instead of looking at yourself as a filthy, nasty hobbit, um, I mean, sinner, this gets easy.
    [2] That almost sounds blasphemous to western Christians, but see #1.This isn’t narcissism. This is recognizing who you are and rejoicing in it.
    [3] All of them!

    • I always love your feedback!

      You really hit home with this one too. I love the things you’ve pointed out, and I so needed to hear them. You see.. I can get pretty hard on myself, and the concept of God telling us to love ourselves, that’s one often overlooked. I need to love myself more, take better care of myself.

      I can’t wait to really get into prison ministry, I just know it’s for me.

      And I like your interpretation of things. I like how you see the parables. I totally get you, Miles. And you inspire and teach me everyday. I so wish we lived close and we could do a Bible study. I could learn so much from you. Skype study, maybe???

  2. Pingback: not just for inmates and foreign kids: it’s good to give, part one! | happyhippierose

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