One of the important core values of Forsyth Jail & Prison Ministries is connecting and reconnecting families. We do this through various initiatives through the year, including our “Fun with Father” retreat and annual “In the Name of the Father” Christmas program with dads and kids at the prison. The importance of this family connection was highlighted for me in a recent interaction with a dad at our prison.
I received a phone call from the mother of one of the men in our prison – we’ll call him “Leonard”. Leonard’s mom called stating that his young adult daughter had called crying and saying that she needed to speak with her father. The only thing that the daughter shared was that she had just come from the doctor. As you can imagine, a daughter can’t just call up to the prison and speak to her father, no matter how distraught she may be.
Since there seemed to be a medical emergency involved, I facilitated a phone call for Leonard to speak with his daughter. The daughter was clearly in distress when she answered the phone, but she was immediately elated to hear her father’s voice. She then commenced to inform him that she went to the doctor and found out that she was 7 weeks pregnant. People around her were telling her to have an abortion. She said that she did not want to make a decision she could potentially regret for the rest of her life, and the only person she wanted to talk to was her “daddy.”
Over the next several minutes, I witnessed Leonard have one of the most loving and affirming conversations with his daughter. He did not tell her what to do. He offered a listening ear, a safe place to cry, and sage wisdom. By the end of the call, the young lady was at peace with her decision to keep and raise her child. It was a tender “daddy-daughter” moment. It amazed me that not even incarceration could break the strong bond between this father and child, and because of the ministry of Forsyth Jail & Prison Ministries, this father was able to offer comfort to his daughter in distress.
-Chaplain Tejado Hanchell