Burl Cain is my hero!

He came to Chicago in October 2003 with a request: “Come talk to the men of Angola State Penitentiary. They have a question for you and for Awana.”

So, my wife and I went to Angola. A large inmate stood up in a room filled with other men. He addressed us with this question, “Mr. Eggar, we want to know if Awana can help us with our children. They are headed for trouble, and maybe Awana can help them.”

From that short meeting, Awana Lifeline Ministries was born and can now be found in prisons and jails across America and in other countries. Its purpose is profound, yet entirely simple. ALM exists to help incarcerated adults confess, ask for forgiveness and reconcile with their children. This, in effect, begins to free their offspring from the multi-generational cycle of crime that has swept our country.

The most extraordinary crucial conversations are now taking place across the land in, of all places, prisons and jails. The stigma, guilt, shame and burden of having a parent in prison are being replaced by reconciliation, forgiveness, joy and hope for tomorrow.

Research shows that the child of an incarcerated parent is seven times more likely to be incarcerated than his peers. Can anyone estimate the financial, mental, physical, emotional and social cost-savings of even one child avoiding this destiny?

Over the years, Cain has been there for Awana, the inmates of Angola and most certainly, the children. He has never missed one event. This extraordinary person has positively influenced thousands of men, women and children, hence my bold proclamation: Burl Cain is my hero!

Jack Eggar

president/CEO, Awana

Streamwood, Illinois