When asked to lead prison ministries for West Broad Church in Savannah, Ga., Sharon Parris knew without hesitation that God was calling her to this ministry. Her family had seen both sides of the prison ministries fence. Having battled with addiction and incarceration, Parris shares her story to help others facing the same battle. She knew this ministry would allow her and her family to be transparent about their journey.
With much prayer and the support of her husband and children, Parris set out to do all that she could to make a difference in the lives of those behind bars and their families.
Parris led out in West Broad Church, joining the Angel Tree Family, a program where the children of incarcerated parents receive Christmas gifts donated by participants in the name of the incarcerated parent. For the past seven years, West Broad Church has participated. Each year the number of children helped has increased. In the beginning 20 children were a part of the program, which has now increased to 60. Not only were West Broad members involved, but, using her connections, Parris had community organizations donating gifts as well. One year a community organization donated so many gifts that enough remained to take to the county jail, and were given out as children were leaving the facility after visitations.
As another part of prison ministries, at the beginning of the 2021 school year, the members of West Broad Church participated in a back-to-school drive for children of incarcerated parents. The church members went beyond Angel Tree, and purchased school supplies that were individually packed and ready to distribute to the children.
Through prison ministries, Parris desired to bond with the families of those incarcerated. She reserved a gymnasium and had a prison ministries family and friends’ day, inviting the children and their caregivers. Games were played, food served, and lots of great fellowship was enjoyed. Parris also keeps in touch with the children and caregivers throughout the year.
Parris expressed that one of the highlights of her ministry is witnessing the parents release from jail and being able to return to their children and families. As a result of this ministry, many amazing witnessing contacts and friendships have formed.
South Atlantic | August 2022