What would you do? There are nearly two million people in US jails and prisons. About 3,000 of those men and women are members of Sabbath Keepers Fellowship & Prison Ministry. We minister to all prisoners who come to us and keep the seventh-day Sabbath. If you or a loved one were in prison, and it was Passover, you would probably contact SKF for help in keeping the festival.
Among many other services to Sabbath-keeping inmates, we operate this nation’s oldest and largest prison Passover Package Program. It was created in 2011 and is designed to enable Sabbath and festival observant inmates across the USA to keep just the most basic of scriptural commands concerning Passover while in prison. Over the last few years, we have provided nearly 11,000 Passover packages to hundreds of prisons across the nation. But, we could and should have done many more than that. It is only for lack of funds that we cannot provide these packages for all inmates of our faith. And the program is in trouble this year.
In one respect, it is going great – we have tons of requests for our packages, which contain matzah, juice, bitter herb and a Seder booklet. In another respect, it is going quite poorly – at present, we only have $1,000 of the $12,000 necessary to fill the requests of all our inmate members who have asked for one, and we need to make our final purchase of supplies within the next four weeks.
But why should you give to charity, and especially one that serves prisoners? Because it is a commandment of our Father in heaven (Leviticus 25:35, Deuteronomy 15:7-8). Is that the only reason? As if we need another! In fact, there is another reason. It is righteousness to you. In Hebrew, the word for righteousness is “Tzedek.” A similar word is used of a righteous person, which is “Tzadik.” The common Hebrew word for the giving of charity is “Tzedekah.” In Hebrew thought, the giving of charity is one of the highest forms of righteousness. In His Sermon on the Mount, our Messiah agrees and had this to say about righteousness:
“Let your light so shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven… For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
He also spoke specifically about the necessity of everyone ministering to those in prison, telling us that if we neglect our incarcerated brothers and sisters, it will not go well for us in the end:
“He shall then also say to those on the left hand, ‘Go away from Me, accursed ones, into the everlasting fire prepared for the adversary and his messengers, for I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, was naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ Then they also shall answer Him, saying, ‘Master, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not serve You?’ Then He shall answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, in so far as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into everlasting life.”
Admittedly, the giving of charity to convicted criminals is not a very glorious task. It seems most people want nothing to do with it or them. There are many other more palatable expressions of giving, and so most people tend to give their tzedekah to more tasteful and high profile causes and charities. That is precisely the reason we need your help. The more acceptable charities are very well funded, and we struggle for every cent we get – which usually ends up not being enough to help all those in need of our services. Those we minister to are not some unknown people in far off countries with ways and religions foreign to you. They are your own broken and wayward brethren right here in the USA who have failed in life, and yet now are trying their best to mend their ways in order to serve our Father in heaven. We must not turn our backs on them and fail them! Our best and most perfect example in this is our blessed Messiah who ate with the tax collectors and sinners, who said that He came to heal the sick and not the healthy. He said, “Freely you have received, freely give!” If you do not help these poor brethren of ours it is highly unlikely that anyone else will.
It is SKF’s goal to make sure no Sabbath-keeping prisoner is forgotten at Passover. We cannot do this without your help. It is our hope that we can bring every one of our brothers and sisters in prison to our Father’s Passover table and, ultimately, into fellowship and His kingdom. Will you please join with us and help us reach that goal? Everything necessary is in place to do this service for the thousands of our brethren behind bars who have requested a Passover Package so they can fulfill the commandments of that observance, and all it needs is for you and other generous followers of Messiah to open your hearts and pocketbooks, and give so they can do so.
You can send cash, check or money order to:
Sabbath Keepers Fellowship
P.O. Box 972
Malakoff, Tx. 75148
You can make a donation via PayPal using this link:
Or, visit our website to learn more:
https://sabbathkeepersfellowship.org/…/passover-packages/Thank you in advance for your kindness and generosity,
Lisa Haufler, Director
Sabbath Keepers Fellowship & Prison Ministry