Faith Harvest Church, located in North Hills, CA, hosted a rather special Christmas party on Sunday — one for the children and families of incarcerated individuals.
The party was hosted through the ‘Angel Tree’ program of the Prison Fellowship, a non-profit which ministers to individuals within the prison system, prepares them to readjust to life outside of prison, and helps them to maintain healthy relationships with their families. Through the Angel Tree program, Faith Harvest adopted 50 children this year to give them Christmas gifts and host a Christmas party for them and their families.
Faith Harvest Church has participated in the Angel Tree program for the past six to seven years, said Pastor Edmund Lee of Faith Harvest. This year, about five families came to the Christmas party, which included a time of icebreaker games, crafts, dinner, Christmas carols, and a presentation of the gospel. Church members also prayed for each family, and delivered the Christmas gifts to the children, which contain messages from their incarcerated parents.
“Our role is not to say, ‘This is from us,’” Lee said, “but to be the conduit for their parents, and to say, ‘They are thinking of you, they care about you, and they love you.’”
One of the unique aspects of the Angel Tree program is that it matches the church with families of incarcerated individuals who live within the area, explained U-chin Jang, who has coordinated the Angel Tree program at Faith Harvest for the past several years.
“It allows a way for us to be a presence in the community,” said Jang. “We’re just a Korean church — a lot of the people that we serve through Angel Tree wouldn’t normally come to our church, and a lot of them don’t go to church at all. So it’s a good opportunity for us to bless them and serve them.”
According to the Pew Charitable Trusts 2010 study, ‘Collateral Costs: Incarceration’s Effect on Economic Mobility,’ some 2.7 million children in the U.S. have parents who are incarcerated. More than half (54 percent) of those in U.S. prisons are parents with minor children aged 0 to 17.