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Pastors visit jail for Christmas, post bond for two inmates

By Darius Johnson

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    CHICAGO (WBBM) — Every year, the Rainbow Push Coalition has tried to provide a merry Christmas to inmates at the Cook County Jail. On Monday, about 200 low- and medium-level detainees had the chance to attend Monday morning’s service, and on Monday night, two recent inmates were back home celebrating Christmas with their families.

For decades, the Rainbow Push Coalition has brought a festive affair to the Cook County Jail on Christmas Day.

CBS 2’s Darius Johnson was there on Monday as nearly 200 inmates were taken out of their cuffs for a moment to rejoice.

“I don’t know who you are today, but this is the sole message we came to say to you: God so loves you,” said Salem Baptist Church pastor, Rev. Dr. Charlie Dates.

The message and the service were focused on those in jumpsuits. No presents or cards were in sight, but a room at the jail was filled with cheer and people who care. Rev. Jesse Jackson was one of them as he was pushed around in his wheelchair ,shaking the hands of inmates.

“Their human dignity needs to be affirmed and celebrated. So we wanted them to know, on this day, that they matter to God, and they matter to us too,” Dates said.

Dates was one of the youngest pastors in the room. While standing at the podium looking at those incarcerated, he began to reflect.

“This could be me. In fact, it would be me had it not been for certain people and opportunities help me. And what I want to do is take the good that I have received and deliver it to these men and these women today, because they are me and we are them,” he said.

The good he received was an Illinois judge choosing to pay his fine and serve his time behind bars after he was caught stealing a car. Two decades later, he was delivering that same good to those who are where we would have been.

“God loves y’all so much that he sent us here,” Dates told inmates.

Dates said God sent them to the jail to make Christmas merrier by paying the bails of both Paul Hardy and Vincent Henderson. Both men were low level offenders who were jailed before the end to cash bail in Illinois earlier this year, and are now free to can spend the rest of Christmas with their families.

The generous gift received a standing ovation for those who are now getting a second chance at life.

“They did not know that that would happen to them today. It’s a miracle on Christmas. So we were able to come. We didn’t know them, they don’t know us, but they know us now. And they know that God’s power is real in their lives,” Dates said.

The inmates who will spend the rest of their Christmas in a cell were able to register to vote, while also receiving much needed clothing items and words of affirmation.

“Y’all are loved too,” said one of the pastors in attendance.

And those who are loved cannot be forgotten or forsaken even on a holiday.

“I think the reality is those of us who have been privileged with something cannot forget those who feel like they have nothing. Merry Christmas,” Dates said.

Inmates in attendance told CBS 2’s Darius Johnson these events and special programs at the jail help provide them with a glimmer of hope while awaiting freedom.

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