Fathers imprisoned at Camp Pugsley Correctional Facility in Kingsley (Mich.) recently spent a day of fun with their children with help from several members of Cadillac (Mich.) Christian Reformed Church.
From left, back: Rich DeVries, Rich Westmaas, John Dixon; middle: Teri Rasey, Sharon DeVries, Kevin Streu; front: Lucinda Rathbun
“The fathers were lined up inside the gym, and their children were waiting just outside the doors. Each father’s name was called, and then their child (or children) ran as fast as they could to Daddy’s waiting arms. It brought tears to my eyes,” said Teri Rasey, a member of the church.
The event is called “One Day with God,” and it happens at prisons around the country through Forgiven Ministry.
“This is a nondenominational venture to provide this experience for the inmates’ children,” said Rasey. “It impacts the lives of the children involved in ways we never know until years later.”
The day included games, music, magic tricks, crafts, and food. Other highlights included a dance for fathers and daughters and fathers teaching their sons how to tie a necktie. There was also a quiet time when mentors backed away and gave fathers some one-on-one time with their child.
In order for the father to be involved in this day, he must have been on his best behavior for the year. The men also participated in training beforehand on being a good father where they learned things like how to give their child a blessing.
The day ended with everyone releasing a balloon in the air, making a wish, and praising God by singing “How Great Thou Art.”
“This is all about the children. The whole focus is giving the child a parent and feeling loved by the parent. Even though they are separated, children need to know it wasn’t their fault. The byproduct of this is also the lessening of repeat offenders by knowing what their child needs and wants from them,” said Rasey. “The sense that you have helped a child reconnect with his or her parent and planted a seed of God’s goodness is indescribable.”