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Christmas Behind Bars
c/o Lemuel & Donna Vega
PO Box 474
Bluffton, IN 46714

Letters From Staff

State of Indiana Department of Correction

I’m grateful that our paths have crossed again. Praise the Lord. On behalf of the residents and staff here at Indianapolis Men’s Community Re-Entry Center, I wish to express my sincere gratitude and thanks to you and your entire team of volunteers at Unchained Ministries.

The resounding words of wisdom hopefully will remain on ears for days to follow, and a taste of repentance and meekness are savored as they partake in the gift bag of treats from an inspiring message you uplifted them with.

Organizations such as Christmas Behind Bars are fine examples of community involvement that we would like to encourage between the Department of Correction and other community groups.

You will always have a place on my calendar regardless of my title, have Blessed Holiday and New Year. Your mission to pay it forward is truly uplifting.

Sheriff of Howard County

I want to say “Thank-you” for bringing the Christmas Behind Bars ministry to the Howard County Jail. I have heard nothing but positive comments, and I hope we can participate again next year.

Superintendent of New Castle Correctional Facility

Just a brief note of “thanks” for the selfless acts of giving you and your team blessed us with last week here at New Castle Correctional Facility! I regard that I didn’t get to see you in person this visit.

I am certain you already are aware of the deep, positive impact your ministry has on our offenders. Yes, the ‘treats’ are wonderful and much appreciated, but more than that is the gift of time. So often (too often), one incarcerated, many individuals lose much of their contact with the outside world; family and friends. We were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support of so many of your team finding time to come to New Castle. Ours is such a large facility, but the strength of your numbers truly meant the offenders got to experience the simple act of kindness that, powerful anytime, is critical during the Holiday Season.

Thank you again and I wish you continued success and much joy in the New Year.

Warden of Arkansas Department of Correction

I would like to express my appreciation to you and your team for the wonderful work on the 2009 Christmas Behind Bars program.

I have never seen the inmates this happy about any other Christmas program. The gifts were very special, especially to the inmates who have no one in the free world to share Christmas with. I have heard from many of the inmates who could not believe how much you cared. I personally observed and appreciated the way you brought a smile to the faces of even the inmates serving in punitive isolation.

It was not only the gifts you brought, but more importantly, the special way your whole team shared the gospel through the spoken word and through song. I hope this is something you will want to continue to do each year at the Ouachita River Correctional Unit.

Chaplain of Arkansas Department of Correction

On behalf of the resident of the Ouachita River Correctional Unit, I would like to thank you and the Christmas Behind Bars family for sharing your valuable time with us.

It is because of generous contributions like yours that enabled us to make Christ a tangible presence to the men here.

Certainly all of us are the embodiment of Christ’s Church regardless of where we are in the world. Your support goes a long way in the Chapel program here at Ouachita River Correctional Unit, which otherwise would not be as effective or all encompassing.

Thank you again for your gift. May God continue to bless you is our prayer.

State of Indiana Department of Correction

As you know the Plainfield Correctional Facility receives several groups a year that minister to the offenders. In my career in corrections I have assisted with many of these programs and have always been impressed with the message they bring.

I have to take a moment and express to you the gratitude of the facility and the offender population for your program. During my career I have never seen the positive response from the offenders as I have with your program. My office received well over 400 notes of appreciation regarding your program and what you did for the men. To say this is impressive does not do credit to what you accomplished with this population.

I just wanted to take a moment and express my personal gratitude on behalf of the staff and offenders of the Plainfield Correctional Facility for the work you do and the message you bring to all of us.

Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice

On behalf of the youth and staff at Illinois Youth Center at Harrisburg we would like to thank you for the generous and thoughtful donation of 360 bags of pretzels. We were able to pass out one bag to each of the youth who reside here. We were also able to leave bags at each of the security posts for our staff to eat. The bags that were left over were gladly received by the Saline County Jail for the people who reside there.

We have a lot of teenage boys here at IYC-Harrisburg. Anyone who has ever raised a boy knows that teenage boys like salty, or oily or spicy snacks. Your pretzels were a very big hit among our boys. One youth even let out a small squeal when he was given his bag.

Again, we thank you, Christmas Behind Bars and 3ABN for your generosity and for thinking of us.

Tammy Atwood, Community Service Coordinator and the women of IWP

It was a special pleasure to have you share your testimonies with the women at Indiana Women’s Prison. You were an inspiration to all. Thank you for the wonderful gift sacks. The women were truly blessed by your compassion and generosity.

Marshall – 12.22.10

As I close out my last days as Sheriff, I want to thank you for your friendship, and for bringing the Christmas Behind Bars program to the inmates incarcerated in the Howard County Jail.

It seems like the seven years went very fast. Following the initial program I looked forward to your annual visit. Christmas is the season of peace on earth, and good will toward men. Your message of hope, the singing of Christmas carols, and the small gift bag provided for each inmate was certainly a blessing during a time period that many inmates find difficult to cope with. We have found that your visits do have an effect on our inmate population during the Christmas season.

I wish you well as you continue to bring your message of hope and salvation to those incarcerated. I hope the 46 new Sheriff’s taking office January 1st will take the opportunity to have your ministry visit their jail.

I wish you, your staff, and your volunteers the very best.

Joyce – 10.7.09

We want to take the time to thank you for your hard work and time you have given to Westville Correctional Facility. This was your second year here and it went very smooth. You and your volunteers worked hand and hand with custody and staff in order to provide a successful program that worked for our facility. We appreciate your efforts. Your program deserves to be recognized and would recommend it to any prison that could use an inspiration. It has made a difference at our facility.

Charles – 1.4.11

I pray this letter finds you in good health and in high spirits. I want to express my appreciation to you personally for your professionalism and persistent patience with the Chaplain’s Office while we were in the middle changing of Wardens. When changes occur in Administration, operations and procedures change as well and I appreciate your attitude during the early stages of planning your visit. The volunteers were cooperative and were conscientious of their surroundings during the services and the visitation in the Super Max. The whole experience was handled in a professional and God honoring way and resulted in a wonderful experience for all involved.

It was evident you and your team invested a lot of time and work in this outreach event. I have heard it said, “There are people in this world who talk about doing big things and there are those who do big things.” Christmas Behind Bars does big things. From the time the volunteers arrived to the end of the day it was evident there was much more than work, but a love for men in prison. The cost, the transportation and delivery of the Christmas sacks was the tangible way of saying we care.

During the worship services you did an outstanding job of conveying your experiences to the inmates using props and illustrations anyone could relate to. There were men who attended the services who have never darkened the doors of the chapel. The message was well received and I heard several comments. Some of the statements made were, “That was the first time I ever heard Christ preached like that”, “They gave me hope and encouragement, my life was changed because I went through a spiritual check up to see wehre I stood and how I could better serve here at this unit” and “I enjoyed the singing and the encouragement that each of ya’ll had for us”. These comments came from men who are serving long sentences. In regards to the packages one man stated, “I’ve been here for several years and have never received anything like this before.” thank you for making a difference, many were touched and ministered to through the gift packages and Worship experience.

If you planning any trips through or to Arkansas please feel free to contact me about scheduling a worship service. Once again, thank you and Christmas Behind Bars for the difference you have made in this corner of Arkansas.

Molly – 2.25.09

On behalf of the Sullivan County jail we would like to thank you both for your visit to our facility today. The time and gifts that you brought with you are greatly appreciated. Even though we are a small community there are a lot of people here who do not have a single visitor during their entire incarceration. People like yourselves taking the time to speak with them and give them a gift is as rehabilitate as any program out there and something some people here have never experienced in their entire life … often what led them here.

Rev. Nancy – 2.25.08

I heard about the great days that you had at the Putnamville Correctional Facility. It is really neat that you have such a passion for this ministry. I also wanted to say that it touched the inmates that you gave an impassioned release from the service, saying that it would break your heart if you didn’t hear the sermon you were about to give. That shows the sensitivity that was in your heart. The chaplain said that no inmates in any of the services got up to leave. Seriously, these men at Putnamville often have their hearts so hardened that they do not want to listen to any man’s opinion. Time will tell with the impact that you made in people’s lives at Putnamville on February 23rd and 24th. You really wore Chaplain Alan out but at the end of both days, he said it was wroth it to make sure you were able to carry out your mission. That’s amazing Alan does NOT say that about very many people. I just wanted to take a minute to communicate how much it meant to the men that you put them first one day a year. Many of the men do not get regular visits from family and friends. You truly made a difference in their lives that one day. I was really surprised that you went into the extra dorms, Dorm 10, MSU and ASU. Wow! You really did go to the worst of the worst. May God bless you in all you do for Jesus.

Julie – 8.3.12

On behalf of the staff and inmates at Northpoint Training Center I would like to thank you for visiting our Institution and provided such generous goodie bags to our inmates. The response from the inmates has been overwhelming. Several have stopped the Warden and me and thanked us for allowing the program as they thoroughly enjoyed your message. I would encourage any Institution that has the opportunity to participate in your program to do so. It is a truly remarkable program and I wish you continued success in your future endeavors. Northpoint would be honored to have you back again on a future visit. I have enclosed letters written to you by some of our inmates thanking you. Again, thank you so much.

Tammy – 2.5.08

Thank you very much for your kind donation of candy bars to our agency. The officers, dispatchers and fire personnel are enjoying it very much. From the literature you provided, it’s obvious that you have committed much dedication and effort to your ministry. I appreciate your hard work in that regard. Again, thank you very much for the nice treats.

Lt. Arlan – 11.26.07

I would like to thank you for choosing to come back to Delaware County with your “Christmas Behind Bars” Program. Your program does a great job in working with the inmates during the holiday season.

Statistically, the month of December has a higher rate of suicide than any other month. I hav been looking for a solution to the problem for a few years.

You have helped me find the solution. When I first heard of your program, I must admit, I was a little skeptical. However, after having you and your program in our jail, I would recommend the program to anyone.

I received letters from inmates and their families thanking me for having your program in the jail. All comments were positive and many indicated that the inmates listened to your messages. I did not receive a single negative comment.

If there is anything that I can do to assist in spreading the word about your program, please let me know.

Karlene – 12.16.10

Please let me extend my heart-felt thanks for the help you gave the Inside/Out Dad program on their December 4th Christmas Party I have never received such an abundant helping hand as you and your ministries provided.

Each child received one filled Christmas stocking stuffer bag, one cosmetic bag and had a huge smile on their face when they left the party. The fathers and the children enjoyed milk and, also thanks to you, chocolate chip cookies. We also had soem vegetables and dips.

Coordinating this program for the last four years has been a challenge for me. I wish I could have known you sooner so you could have taught me a few things. Once again let me say thank you for the help you gave to my Dads and their children. I pray that the good Lord protects you and blesses you all your days. You truly helped my Dads and their children enjoy the Christmas Party to celebrate the Birth of Christ.

Robert E. Frantz [Sheriff of Wells County] – 8.22.07

This letter is to inform you that Lemuel Vega has been involved with the Christmas Behind Bars program for several years at the Wells County Jail. Although nothing can replace being with your family over the holidays it does seem to help the inmates through the holiday season. I would recommend this program be utilized in other facilities.

Capt. Brad Rogers – 1.2.08

Christmas Behind Bars (CBB), directed by Lemuel Vega, distributed nearly 650 corrections-safe care packages to the inmates of the Elkhart County, Indiana jail on December 8, 2007. CBB facilitated a local volunteer crew that helped with distribution to the inmates. CBB and the volunteers were given access to the inmate living areas for this distribution, and were allowed to provide a short program of speaking and singing. The Elkhart County inmates seemed very appreciated of this program and were very receptive. My department’s involvement, besides allowing access, was to provide one staff member to oversee the process and to facilitate access or resolve any issues. The program can be described as a resounding success with little or no issues/problems. Christmas Behind Bars comes highly recommended. If you have any questions, pleas do not hesitate to contact me.

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