Inmates celebrate Christmas, too
Published 3:47 pm Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Jail isn’t a pleasant place, but thanks to a group of local churches, Christmas will be a little brighter for those serving time in the Escambia County Jail.
For years, local churches have worked to provide some holiday cheer and a dose of fellowship inside the county jail. This year was no different as six local churches participated in the ministry mission where not only did inmates hear the story of Jesus’ birth but also received bags of food and personal hygiene items.
The jail ministry program is sponsored by First Baptist Church of Flomaton, Ridge Road Baptist Church and First Assembly of God in East Brewton. For weeks, those at New Beginnings Church and Rehab, First Assembly, Flomaton First Baptist, Catawba Springs Baptist Church, Ridge Road, and Unity in Atmore have donated money, time and items for the project. Gideon Charles Jackson from Catawba Springs gathered and delivered Bibles for the bags.
Chief Deputy Mike Lambert said, “We are thankful to the churches for coming out and supporting our inmates. Not every person in jail is a bad person. They just did bad things. We’re all human beings and we should all be treated the same way.”
Volunteers Renee Shipp and Becky Barbas, along with others, delivered Christmas treats to inmates this week.
In the bags are little bags of potato chips, a Christmas Little Debbie cake, two stamped postcards to write home, a pair of socks, a bar of soap, a tube of toothpaste, three small pieces of candy, a candy cane, a Bible tract, a Bible bookmark, and some notes from Barbas’ pastor in Flomaton and Shipp’s pastor at the Assembly of God church.
Everything is individually sealed, and nothing could be homemade.
Barbas, a member of First Baptist Church, Flomaton, said she and others felt compelled to help the inmates.
“The first time I went (into the jail), I realized those women were just like me,” she said. “God put on my heart all their faces and put on my heart that all those women were someone else’s daughters. They were all born and someone looked into their face with great hope to achieve something.
And if that was my daughter, I would certainly want someone to share with them the truth,” she said.
Lee Cadenhead, pastor at Ridge Road Baptist Church, said his church contributed in a small way, but was not able to help with the delivery.
“I do know that this is a difficult time for those that are incarcerated, but I do know that this is much appreciated for those guys to have someone think of them during this time,” Cadenhead said. “The holidays are a very difficult time for those incarcerated. I’m sure the goodie bags are a blessing to the inmates. We really appreciate Mrs. Shipp and Mrs. Barbas coordinating the bags and the jail staff and administration for going the extra mile to accommodate the distribution. We hope it will interject some hope and encouragement for the inmates at the Detention Center.”
Shipp, a Sunday school teacher at First Assembly of God East Brewton, said she feels she does her best work in the jail ministry.
“I teach Sunday school at my church and I think I do a decent job there, but it is nothing like I do when I am in the jails,” she said. “Where there is the greatest need, is when you can do the most good. There is such a need there for good news. They tell us they look so forward to us coming.”
Sheriff Grover Smith expressed his appreciation to those involved.
“Like we said before, we’re very thankful the churches were able to come together to give us support with personnel and financial support to provide these items for the inmates,” he said. “Little gestures like this go a long way. We appreciate the ministry that takes place inside the jail, and we’re thankful for them to come in and deliver the Lord’s message. We strive hard to accommodate that every week.”