I have read of many churches celebrating Christmas with Pageants that include an actual baby portraying the role of ‘baby Jesus’. Our first child Ruth, was born December 12th, 1981 and was chosen to be ‘baby Jesus’ for our church’s (Reba Place Fellowship) Christmas Eve service. Last year, our grandson, Charlie, born on Oct. 19th 2008, was chosen, also at Reba Place Fellowship. But in prison no such ritual exists.
I wasn’t even thinking about babies being in Christmas plays back in 1972. This was yet another year in prison the difference being this was my first Christmas as a christian. The Christmas service held new meaning for me as we sang the traditional Christmas Carols bringing with it a hope for a new life with a redeemed future. Christian volunteers were apart of our service at the U. S. Medical Center for Prisoners in Springfield, Mo.
As our service wound to completion a cry was heard. The faint whimpering of a baby. My first thought was that I wasn’t hearing what I thought I had heard. I had been in prison for many years and had never even seen a baby inside of a prison (not counting my infrequent times in the visiting room.) But there it was again, a baby crying. Someone, a volunteer, had brought their baby into the service wrapped in a blanket unnoticed by the guards. I then thought, there was our ‘baby Jesus’.
The parents of the yet unknown child were the children of an older couple (Lloyd and Nita Colbaugh) who had only a few years previously began their ministry to the prison. Even the great-grandmother (Mom Carter) was a volunteer and had played a significant role in my own conversion, telling me that God had a plan for my life.
Life would go on and the incident of ‘baby Jesus’ coming to prison would fade to a memory, until the baby grew up and now is known throughout many countries far and wide as acclaimed singer/songwriter Sara Groves.
I hope this story adds to your appreciation of the life of Sara and her family.
John C Thomson