Men and women who are serving life sentences in prison got the opportunity to see their children and even give them Christmas gifts – thanks to God Behind Bars, a ministry that "sets inmates on a journey to reconnect with their family through Christ and help them follow Him."
"Our heart is for the children," Isaac Holt, Director of Innovation at God Behind Bars, told CBN News. "We want to create dignity for their mom or dad. We want to restore that relationship with their family."
Since 2009, God Behind Bars has partnered with churches across the country to transform the lives of prison inmates and their families.
"All is Bright" is their yearly event that reveals the true meaning of Christmas.
"Many people tell us that these men and women don't deserve any of this," God Behind Bars wrote on Facebook. "We disagree. The best way to show them the grace and love of Jesus is to give them the very best Christmas with their kids! It doesn't matter if it's deserved or not. This is the love of Jesus!"
According to the Las Vegas-based organization, Christmas can be one of the loneliest times of the year. Inmate depression, assault, and suicide rates increase. That's why God Behind Bars decided to help inmates spend Christmas with their families.
"This is the first time they were able to hug each other. God is so good and His grace knows no bounds," the ministry expressed. "For some of these men, this is the first Christmas they have ever had with their child."
Many inmates, like David, are serving life sentences for crimes they have committed but have now turned their lives to Christ.
"During my prison sentence, I was on my way to fight someone. And God was really nudging on my heart during this time," he shared. "And as I walked into this guy's cell, instead of fighting him, I just looked at him and said, 'I want to know Jesus and I want to get baptized, do you want to know Jesus and get baptized?' And he was super confused and said, 'No.' So then I went and got baptized anyway."
"I didn't take my faith seriously for about a year. Then, some of the guys here pulled me in and started disciplining me," David continued. "I started going to their Bible study. Life hasn't been the same since. I have done some terrible things that I don't forgive myself for, but God's forgiveness is mind-blowing."
David is now leading hundreds of men to Jesus and is getting his degree.
During the ministry's Christmas outreach, women inmates also had the opportunity to see their children for the first time in years.
Courtney has been in prison for seven years and hasn't had Christmas with her son until now. God Behind Bars flew her son out to see her for a shock reunion.
One woman who gave birth to her son while in prison got to meet him for the first time since his birth.
"We had the amazing opportunity to help reconnect them," the group posted. "Thank you Jesus for these moments."
FlatIrons Church in Boulder, Colorado, partnered with the ministry to allow parents to pick out a gift for their children.
"For some of these men, this is the first gift they have ever given to their child," a post said. "God is so good and His grace flows through His church."
Holt told CBN News one dad was able to throw a football with his college-scholarship bound son for the first time.
"It was 20 years in the making," he described.
"Because these men are serving life sentences, some of these kids have never been able to hug their dad," God Behind Bars shared. "Some have never had Christmas with their dad. And on this day, that all changed. These men got to experience the embrace of a family."
The ministry's next Christmas event will be in Florida on Dec.13th.