- Faith & Family
In full speed, a young boy, who was about five-years-old, ran to the front of the church when his name was called. Rev. Gaston Smith and Friendship Missionary Baptist Church members were passing out gifts to children, and the young boy couldn’t wait to receive his Christmas presents. His smile and excitement expressed his gratitude as he was handed a couple of gifts.
It was also his smile that hid the fact that he would celebrate the holiday season without the presence of one of his parents.
He is one of 100 children with incarcerated parents, who were adopted by the Prison Fellowship Angel Tree Ministry of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church; which serves the children of prisoners by giving them gifts on behalf of their incarcerated parents and surrounding them with a loving community all year long.
The children were treated like celebrities at the 1st annual Angel Tree Celebration for children of incarcerated parents event at Friendship MBC, which was titled “A Celebration of the Star” on Dec. 19.
“No child deserves to feel forgotten or alone, especially at Christmas…” said Smith, senior pastor of Friendship MBC. “It’s our hope and desire to touch the hearts of hurting children at Christmas and transform lives.”
It was all made possible by countless people who stepped up and selected a child’s name and gift selection off of the church’s Christmas tree. Employees of the Public Defender’s Office partnered with the church to help with gift-buying. Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones spoke at the event and also showed support. The church purchased some gifts wholesale, and other gifts were purchased by church members and community members.
The youth strolled the red carpet with their families and had their pictures taken before entering the event; many stopped to be interviewed. Their interview was displayed inside the church.
Then the kids enjoyed a talent-filled night, where their peers sung, danced and spoke of the birth of Jesus and the Christmas celebration.
“We really wanted them to feel special no matter what’s happening,” Rev. LaTousha Daniels, Prison Outreach and Angel Tree coordinator. “When it’s the darkest that’s when stars shine the brightest. We wanted them to know that they are stars, and although we were giving gifts, Jesus is the ultimate gift.”
By Malika A. Wright