Beard speaks at JudsonPublished 9:43pm Saturday, February 11, 2012
Beard went to work for Prison Fellowship in 1982 and founded the Angel Tree program the same year–a ministry that provides gifts for children of inmates at Christmas. Angel Tree is now active in all 50 states and 45 countries. Beard noted that more than nine million children have been touched through this ministry.
Beard explained to students that the children of inmates are innocent victims. Sometimes they’re physically or verbally abused by their parents, she said, and sometimes by society.
“In one Christian academy, they called the mother in after her husband was sent to prison,” Beard said. “Officials said that her two children couldn’t attend the academy anymore since they’d be a bad influence. How heartbreaking that these children were hounded out rather than embraced and encouraged.”
Beard’s “Encourager Ministries” in Birmingham plans a conference at the First Baptist Church in Gardendale in July to offer instruction and encouragement to the children of inmates. She appealed to Judson students to volunteer to help with this project.
“Children of inmates are ‘the least of these’ that Jesus told us to serve in the gospel of Matthew,” she said.