A Christmas Message from Prison
By: Donald V. Watkins
Copyrighted and Published on December 25, 2020
To my Family, Friends, Supporters, and Fellow Political Prisoners around the world: I bring you greetings on this special day – the day Christians all over the globe celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. To this day, Jesus was the greatest man to ever walk the earth. He is recognized in every major religion in the world. Jesus was the earthly son in the flesh of our Lord God.
No man was more powerful than Jesus. He could summon twelve legions of angels to fight for him at a moment’s notice -- 36,000 to 72,000 angels. In 2 Kings 19:35, we are told that a single angel killed 185,000 Assyrians in one night. Yet, Jesus never waged war on any man, or empire, or army.
Jesus was born in poverty and spent his adult life homeless. He owned no earthly possessions. He was mocked by the Jewish Pharisees and the Roman occupiers of Judea.
Jesus lived and preached among the “least of these”. He gave sight to the blind; healed the sick (among Gentiles and Jews); he cleansed the lepers; he gave hearing to the deaf; he fed the hungry and gave the thirsty wine to drink; and he raised the dead among those who were faithful.
Jesus stopped the capital punishment of a woman who was accused of adultery. In contrast, no “establishment” figure stopped the Jews of Romans from arresting Jesus on bogus charges, trying him before Pontius Pilate, scourging him, and crucifying him. Instead, they relished in Jesus’s execution much like today’s death penalty zealots relish in the executions of the “least of these”.
Jesus gave us a code of conduct called the “Beatitudes” (Matthew 5:1-11) and a “Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9-15). He loved everyone and hated no one. He was a “giver”, not a “taker”.
Jesus never hated on any group of human beings for any reason. He called the Pharisees “hypocrites” because that is what they were. Yet, he never attacked them or their authority within the Jewish faith.
Jesus ministered to children; he did not molest them. He respected eunuchs, instead of belittling them. Nowhere in the New Testament did Jesus bash same-sex couples or marriages.
Many claim to speak for Jesus, but very few have followed his Christian teachings. Most Christians talk the Christian talk, but not many are willing to lead the life of love and giving that Jesus practiced.
As strange as it may seem, I have seen more examples of Christian living in prison than I ever saw in the free world. In prison, all inmates – political prisoners and common law prisoners – are treated by their captors as the “least of these”. We languish in a system of legal slavery that is authorized in the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.
I have witnessed intellectual growth, courage, wisdom and generosity that I never saw on the “street”. I have seen men stand up to the abuse of their captors and endure psychological torture without breaking, showing a strength and resilience that defies the imagination.
At the same time, I have seen a glimmer of humanity in prison guards grow into a measure of respect for their captives.
Jesus taught us there is “goodness” in every man and woman. It is our job to find this “goodness” and grow it.
As you exchange material gifts today, please remember that humanity is the greatest gift of all. Give it freely and in an unselfish manner. Love your friends and enemies, alike. Lead by example. Celebrate life every day. Thank God for whatever you have. And, thank God for sharing his son, Jesus, with us.
My gift to all of you is a book I read at the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta that was written by David Nassar titled, “A Call to Die”, Redemption Art Publishing (2000). Along with Dr. Howard Thurman’s book, “Jesus and the Disinherited”, Nassar’s book is one of the three best books in the world on the life of Jesus. The third book is the Holy Bible.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was my childhood Sunday School teacher, pastor, and Baptist Training Union instructor at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama during the early 1950s. He kept a copy of Thurman’s book with him at all times. He would have loved Nasser’s book, which embodies all of Dr. King’s Sunday School lessons. It is a powerful book.
I love all of you, and Merry Christmas! God is good. He is always present in our lives. He is the source of my strength and courage each day.