May God impart to you the same JOY in “bringing Jesus” to the prisoners at Christmas as He did for me all these years. You are in my heart & my prayers.
I smile as I recall the old, upright piano at CRC. Several keys in the middle octave had NO sound. One inmate who loved to sing, told me she was glad someone could finally “play more than ONE PIANO KEY for them”. It seems Chaplain was not a pianist, but he knew some keys were broken, so he went over to the piano, struck the “A KEY” and everyone began to sing from that ONE note!?! I quickly learned to “avoid” the middle keys, so no one knew they were broken. It was that “first” Christmas when he asked me to lead them in Carols. I’ve shared how sad I felt when they all cried…UNTIL they explained it was the first time they realized what the words to the Christmas songs meant. These women came to personally know the “Jesus” in the manger, and He was changing their lives.
For many years, our Christmas Aglow service at CIW included Bruce & Dorothy and our beloved inmate Mary Jones (for whom I bought the red shoes.) Mary led the Carols as I played piano, and Dorothy read her own version of Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus. This year these precious people are seeing Jesus “face to face”.
Both CIW Chaplain and I retired in 2019, so it is the first Christmas I will not sing Christmas Carols with my sisters & daughters inside a prison. I will miss this, but I rejoice that God continues the loving legacy of Aglow Prison Ministry through faithful volunteers. Today, Darlene and Jim, our new “Husband & Wife” team will be in CIW to tell the Christmas Story, and our “Grad Suzy” will give her amazing testimony of the power of God’s love in her life. She was wrongly incarcerated for 17 years and was part of my VSPW Class. She is now VP Outreach on Aglow Prison Board, and is cleared to return to minister where she was once incarcerated.
This month, I pray you will sing “Away in a Manger” or “Silent Night” with those to whom God sends you. No need for piano… just begin to sing an old Carol. Then watch the Holy Spirit touch hearts with God’s love. Be ready for miracles!
Left to right: CIW Chaplain Woodard, Earlene Leming and Grads Mary Montano and Suzy Mellen