Quietly Changing Lives
Looking back before we look forward, we are amazed where we have come from. Our idea of slowing down passed rapidly as we continue to grow. Paper Sunshine got out of hand at the end of the year as we just could not keep up.
Looking forward we see that through the Pen Friend Program, combined with many Bible studies, we will again show that Regeneration will replace Rehabilitation. Due to the world economy the inmate in prison is a forgotten soul.
Volunteer programs are being cut back all over the nation, putting a severe load on Chaplains who are terribly under funded.
Laws need to be changed to protect the public. Long ago incentives for inmates included going to work or to school, for which time was taken off their sentence. Now we jam them into prison and make it almost impossible to obtain “good time” credit. Even if they receive “good time” it often does them no good, as one inmate explains:
“In Texas we don’t get paid wages like other states. They give us what they call “good time.” Contrary to the title, they don’t make it feel like a good time! “Good time” is supposed to be time credit that allows us to use it towards getting released early. Unfortunately, over the years they’ve honored it less and less to where now it is worthless.
I have a 25 year sentence. With the “good time” I’ve accumulated I should have been released in 1999. The amount of “good time” I have now is totaled at almost twice my sentence. As I mentioned before, it’s worthless. I would prefer to be paid, but that option is not available to me.”
IF IT’S NOT BROKEN DON’T FIX IT
It is broken. We received a call about a woman released from prison that doesn’t have a place to live nor a job in the state where she was paroled. She does, however, have a place to live and a job in another state, but the State of Ca. will not let her go there. So, after 14 years in prison with an excellent record, she is now “free?” She told me she does not want to live on the streets and would return to prison before doing that. Does California care? No!
I called several Chaplains
about establishing programs
that have worked in the past
elsewhere. My friend, little is
being done to change the prison
systems. We in no way defend
crime of any sort, but Jesus led
us to this Ministry and it is for
all in prison. I always think of
“every knee shall bow, every
tongue confess.” Not all in
prison will, but not because we
are not trying. “For it is written:
As I live, says the LORD, Every
knee shall bow to Me, and every
tongue shall confess to God.”
Because of uncertainty, we sent notes to about 700 people we believed we had matched to write inmates. We were joyfully surprised to find that many had chosen to write direct and forgot to inform us. We do not suggest this, however, as it puts your address inside a prison.
Many requested new Pen Friends and so we re-matched them. Sadly, many who wrote to inmates got no answer, but they did not let us know.
We really thank all of you who sent stamps, which gave 64 folks a chance to continue writing. A big problem is that almost all prisons no longer provide free stamps, so answering may be a bit tough for some. Let us know if that is a problem for your friend and we will work it out some how.
WE LISTEN TO THE NEWS
While we are working on the mail, we often listen to the news, and it seems it is all bad. Three men were found “not guilty” after they were put to death. There are a lot of inmates who have been found not guilty of the crime they were sent to prison for. One such innocent man was released after serving 21 years in prison.
The jury system is as broken as the Prison system. Many receive large settlements, paid for by tax-payers. Corruption in government is extensive, or all newscasters are liars.
We hired a man to fix our home. He did time awhile back for selling pot to an agent. It cost him four years. His cell mate was serving life plus 350 years for mass murders. We normally do not hear news stories about the horrific things that are done to inmates by inmates.
Again, we have no use or tolerance for crime. Yvonne often tells inmates: do the crime, do the time. Inmates are sent to prison for punishment, not as punishment. We have counseled thousands of inmates and one day, if we retire, we will publish some of their stories.
GOD OPENS DOORS
Many years ago a young man named Terry Zeyen worked with us at Soledad, and he is open to working with us again. We are not sure how this is going to happen, but God knows. We are also talking to several others and if it all comes together we will put together a strong work team.
Darrell Ferree, our volunteer accountant of many years, had to resign for health reasons, so we are praying for an accountant to find their way to us. (The Ministry is set up on Quick Books Pro.) Darrell, a good friend, will be hard to replace, but we are grateful that he is remaining as a Board Member. When we left Michigan he and Julia bought our home in Charlotte. When we find our new accountant, Darrell will train via phone. Please remember them in your prayers.
LETTERS FROM “THE INSIDE”
Many men and women were released from prison this past year. Below are a couple of their stories.
George and Family. “I want to thank you guys and my Pen Friends so much for my freedom. When I joined Someone Cares I was looking to get stuff. Well, what I got was a neat couple, Jack and Mary. Mary wrote first and she was so overly friendly I took it the wrong way and made a pass. Jack jumped in and told me how this would work.
I was not a Christian and a pretty bad person. I read in their letters about a life I had never heard of. The joy they shared got me into a different mind set. They sent me a Bible and we studied together. My big day was when I walked into the Chapel for the first time. The Chaplain, a friend of Don and Yvonne, welcomed me and a few months later baptized me.
When I was released Jack and Mary picked me up and drove me home. My dad had died while I was in prison, but that afternoon my mom, my friends and I had a great visit. That was two years ago, and I now teach a Bible study to 7 folks from my AA group.
Thanks to Someone Cares my brother is now a Christian and gets out (of prison) next year. With my mom’s help his wife is now a Christian and I do believe my brother and her will get back together.”Because of You, Someone Cares!
My Name is Paul. “I went to prison in 1980 for armed robbery and assault. San Quentin was to be my home for over 20 years. I hooked up with a gang and did all the dumb things cons do.
One day in “C” section a lady came to my cell door. She said her name was Yvonne and God had sent her. I asked, “Who died?” “No,” she offered. “No one died, I’m here to tell you about Jesus.” “Lady, your Jesus does not want someone like me.” She replied, “He wants you so bad HE died for you!”
We talked for about an hour and she gave me a book to read about Jesus. A week later she returned with her husband Don. This time I was taken to a small room and he told me about my brother getting killed in a drive by. I stood filled with rage. Don stood and put a firm hand on my shoulder.
An hour later in that dinky room I accepted Christ. They arranged for a call home and I shared some of what Don & Yvonne shared with me. I joined VOP Bible class and by accident got two Pen Friends. I was released last year, have gotten married, and my wife and my folks and I belong to a small friendly loving Church.”Because of You, Someone Cares!
We are the inmates of Soledad South. “In 1979 we were shocked to hear we were getting a full-time lady Chaplain. We had a pretty good group of volunteers, but they were not allowed to one-to-one with us.
Chaplain Reid brought Yvonne in and introduced her. Let us tell you things changed at once. The Chapel became an all Faith’s Chapel, which was open all day, with a morning devotional every day. We had regular church services Saturday and Sunday. We got a Christian library, and along with being a Chaplain Yvonne played piano and organ. Then we met her husband Don.
We had Christian videos and tapes. Soon they informed us that starting at once there would be a Dress Out Program to provide free clothes for us when released. Don & Yvonne did one-to-one counseling, which saved many a man. Then they worked with another organization and we got monthly visits from free folks (“Jesus On The Main Line”).”Thanks to You, Someone Cares!
Moises Appreciates Paper Sunshine. Moises, an inmate in Texas, recently shared with his pen friend just how much the letters he receives mean to him:
“It’s nice to be able to read about anything other than prison. It’s like working at a job you hate, and then you get a surprise half-hour break in a tropical rain forest. Your letters are a refreshing life-blood that helps me feel supported and cared about. That is how I feel about your letters.
I’ve been locked up 16-1/2 years. When you talk about the fun things you do, I also take pleasure in your life.”Because of You, Someone Cares!
God’s Promises. Don and I both pray that this New Year will hold many blessings for all of you. As the years come and go we have the assurance that God holds each of our tomorrows--what a wonderful promise!
It’s a blessing to share God’s promises with the inmates in prison. Some have no hope, and others have high expectations that could be false. Thanks to so many of you who write, they have the chance of learning not just the promises, but also the truth. Hearing from the outside world brings more joy to them than you can imagine, and they often share the letters they receive. Your paper sunshine really brings a lot of light into a very dingy, dark prison cell.
Ask and Ye Shall Receive. Don has described some of the things we’ve been able to do for inmates, and here’s another story.
One year an inmate was sad at Christmas time and I asked him what the problem was. He told me that his mother, who cared for his children, was getting older and that she deserved a nice gift. I agreed and asked, how are you going to do that? His response surprised me, as he said he thought I might help him. How? I wondered. He informed me that she had never had a heavy coat and really needed one.
To make a long story short, I asked around and in just a few weeks we were given a long faux fur coat. His mother didn’t live far, so Don and I personally delivered the coat and told her how her son had asked for it and that God had answered prayer. She cried. God is so good.
BY THE WAY… Items Wanted. If you have any Christian videos or CDs that you are ready to part with, new or used, please send them our way as we can use them in our Ministry.
Tax Receipts. All Tax Receipts will arrive with next month’s newsletter. God Bless all our Faith Partners. Because of YOU, Someone Cares!
We do thank Prayerfully our Pen Friends and Faith Partners. We Pray all Faith Partners can match this years giving plus a dollar. We just made 2009 in the black. We need a lot of Pen Friends as we matched 501 inmates in December Just before Christmas Hebrews 13:3
Many of our readers sent in a cash donation with no return address or contact information. If you need a receipt for tax purposes and have not received it yet, please contact us. Thank you.
in this New Year.
Don & Yvonne