Rogue Angel: A Christmas Story
Mary Kay Beard founded Prison Fellowship's Angel Tree program
that ministers to prisoners by caring for their kids at Christmas.
What a legacy, particularly when you consider Mary Kay's past.
Reading her new book, Rogue Angel, is a lot like reading
the plot of a blockbuster movie. Her early life included facing
the fists of an alcoholic father's rage, seeing him race their
car with her young siblings across the railroad tracks seconds
before an oncoming train, and learning that he tried to destroy
their house with dynamite while the children were in it.
In a hurry to leave her childhood behind, Mary Kay married Paul
Mahaffey after knowing him for only seven days. Six months later,
she found out that he was on the list of America's most wanted
criminals. It was a list she would be on soon as well—the
result of a series of small rationalizations and little compromises
that led her away from the faith of her mother, Grace, a devout
"By the time Mary Kay came to the full realization that
her husband was a professional gambler, burglar, bank robber,
and safecracker," writes her biographer, Jodi Werhanowicz,
"she did not care. It was a short step from accepting Paul's
trade to practicing it herself."
Her first steps into a life of crime were tentative, like sewing
magnets into her dress pockets and leaning on the gaming table
while Paul rolled his loaded dice. Then she grew more brazen.
She held people at gun-point, staged bank robberies in midday,
organized her husband's prison break, and even crossed the mafia.
The results were a contract on her life and thirty-five charges
in four states plus eleven federal indictments.
When she found herself facing twenty-one years in an Alabama
prison, Mary Kay came to terms with Christ through volunteers
who visited her in prison and a Gideon's Bible in her cell. Just
as her steps away from her mother's faith were gradual, so were
her steps back as she learned daily obedience to God in the little
While Mary Kay was in prison, she noticed that the inmates grieved
for their kids at Christmas, even saving toiletries and other
necessities so they could wrap them up and give their kids Christmas
presents. So when she was released, and came to work for Prison
Fellowship in Alabama, she started the first Angel Tree, hanging
the names of inmates' children on a Christmas tree in a shopping
mall so shoppers could buy the gifts. And in that first year Angel
Tree delivered more than three hundred gifts. I did not even know
about it until the next year, but it was a huge success. And now
some twenty years later, more than 7 million children have received
The book Rogue Angel tells the exciting story of how
all of this came to pass and how one woman's obedience can be
used to do mighty things for God. Remember these children received
not only a gift, but also the Good News of the birth of our Savior.
You can order a copy of Rogue Angel and help ensure
that even more children and their incarcerated parents are reconciled
to Christ and each other. Please call us here at BreakPoint,
and if you are able, give a gift to help Angel Tree this Christmas
That gift will help us share the grace of God and, as Mary Kay's
life shows, God's grace changes everything.
From BreakPoint, Copyright 2005 Prison Fellowship
with Chuck Colson" is a radio ministry
of Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with permission of
Prison Fellowship, P.O. Box 17500, Washington, DC, 20041-0500."
Heard on more than 1000 radio stations nationwide. For more information
on the ministry of Chuck Colson and Prison Fellowship visit their
web site at http://www.breakpoint.org.
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