Merry Christmas, Reading Friends! Thanks for joining us for “Incarcerated Christmas, Short Story.” For many of us, our Christmas-time concerns will not reach beyond our own immediate families and friends. But there are whole micro-societies where God’s people exist, even inside this country, who approach the season a little differently. Here’s a short story based on an actual event that may inspire your family to look at Christmas with a new attitude. See you on the next page!
by D.I. Telbat
Jacob Chambers nodded at six men who had just finished praying for him to speak boldly for Christ. With their support, and his faith in Christ’s Word, he stepped from among his brothers in Christ, and walked onto the prison yard.
Several other inmates had begun to gather, aware that the Christian prisoners usually hosted an event around Christmas. Jacob did not disappoint as he lifted his voice.
“Many of you know the Christmas story about Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the wise men, and the shepherds.” Jacob’s voice was clear and loud as he looked at the faces of hardened criminals, many of them with tattoos and scars, representing their years in the prison system. “But today I want to tell you about why Jesus was born, and you must decide for yourself if you will receive this record from the Bible.”
For a few minutes, Jacob spoke plainly about the life and the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ. The men he spoke to were men who had taunted and mocked him for years for being a Christian inmate, but on this morning, they were quiet, and they were listening. He was, after all, condemned to life in prison like the rest of them. But Jacob and the humble believers who stood behind him didn’t see their own past sinfulness as disqualification to share the message of forgiveness, offered freely from the outstretched arms of the Savior who was born to die—especially for the sick, the broken, and the criminals.
After Jacob shared the gospel, his companions in the faith walked up with two giant bags filled with burritos. Hundreds of convicts had gathered by this time, and Jacob prayed loudly over the hushed crowd.
When Jacob concluded his prayer of thanks for the food, the Christian brothers handed out pre-made burritos to the hundreds of men. Most of the condemned men would receive no gift, no letter, and no kind word from family or friends all season—except for the kindness of the few Christians on the yard that cool morning.
The awe and reverence that morning wasn’t just because Jacob was bold enough to speak to the calloused hearts, or that seven simple men were handing out food. No, it was because seven men had spent their small commissary funds to buy tortillas, beans, and hot sauce for men who had ridiculed them all year.
When all the burritos were handed out, Jacob and his brothers came together and stood before the mingling crowd. They guessed that the ridicule would continue in a few days, but maybe their sacrifice and message would reach one or two men, and they would welcome another condemned man into the family of God.
Suddenly, the crowd of prisoners quieted as a bald leader of a known prison gang walked forward. Jacob stepped forward to receive any abuse first, to protect his brothers. After all, Christians had been stabbed in some prisons in recent years.
Instead, the bald man tore his burrito in half, and handed it to Jacob.
“I noticed you didn’t get one,” the bald man said, then walked away.
Other inmates also walked forward and shared what was left of their food with the Christians who had none.
In a few minutes, the crowd dispersed. Men returned to their card games, or drug deals, or workout zones. Jacob and his brothers stood silently for a moment, then a Christian at Jacob’s side cleared his throat.
“After all the years I’ve been here, I’ve never seen anything like that. What do you guys say? Follow-up in pairs?”
The men agreed, and Jacob was the third man on one team who scattered across the yard to speak to the prisoners while the message and the burritos were still on everyone’s minds.
Later that day, the bald gang leader gave his life to Christ. Not even prison could keep God’s people from celebrating the Savior’s sacrifice that year.
Prayer Prompt: Pray for those who are incarcerated this season in our country/in your state, that they will hear the call of Christ on their hearts, and make changes for eternity. With God, all things are possible!
COMING UP: Join us next time for David’s Christmas post, “Focus on the Life of Christ, our Priority.” The following post will be from Dee as she peeks from behind the screen to bring an update on David’s writing endeavors in, “Dec 2017 D.I. Telbat Novel Update.”