Quietly Changing Lives
It took a recent illness to make me slow down and spend time thinking about what this Ministry has done and is continuing to do. I was also able to see that I was making some errors, and had some catching up to do. We are now caught up and pray that we stay that way.
We were recently interviewed by a local newspaper, and a question they asked made us reflect on how great God is. We usually get all the credit for what HE and you have been doing in this Ministry, including inmates being provided with and finishing over 1 For over thirty years we have not had a problem with the Pen Friend program with regards to our promise to provide a risk free writing relationship. However, with high tech programs and all the search engines available, it is now too easy for inmates to locate folks. While it may be more work for our pen friends, we feel it’s a good idea to use a Pen Name, if million Bible Studies over the years, mainly thanks to Voice of Prophecy radio program. Also, leading men and women to Jesus, so that when they are released from prison they do not return. Amen!
It may be time to seriously start turning over the helm of this Ministry to someone else, as in June I will be 78 years old! If anyone is interested in taking on this program, please contact us. Unless Jesus comes, or we go, we would like to always stay involved, but no matter what, we will keep on keeping on.
For over thirty years we have not had a problem with the Pen Friend program with regards to our promise to provide risk free writing relationship. However, with high tech programs and all the search engines available, it is now to easy for inmates to locate folks.
WhiLe it may be more work for our pen friends, we feel it's a good idea to use a Pen Name, if you aren’t already doing so.
One of our supporters, who had not given out her phone number, received an unexpected call from one of her pen friends and called us for advice. This incident did not end up being a problem, but we told her our thoughts. If you don’t use a Pen Name, be very careful how much personal information you give out.
CAN’T DO IT ALL
We often receive requests to help locate inmates who may have been transferred to another facility. We are already stretched to our limits with the work we are doing and just do not have the time or resources to follow through with these requests.
Each state has a Department of Corrections that has information on inmates. If you think your inmate friend has been moved and you have no forwarding information, contact that agency and provide them with your inmate’s name and inmate number. Most state agencies also have this same information available on their website.
PASTORS FINALLY LISTEN
We have received some requests from churches asking that their Sabbath or Sunday school classes receive some inmate names that their kids can write to as a class project. We are excited about this - from looking at the state of the world today, it’s more important than ever to get God’s work done, and we believe that includes reaching out to those lost souls in prison. We already have some youth groups writing to short term inmates, and all of these groups are very well supervised. Do you know of a group that would be willing to reach out and write?Letters From a Pen Friend. Dear Don & Yvonne,
I have been writing to my inmate friend, Moises, for over 11 years. When I first heard about your program I wrote to request more information, but to my surprise I received Moises’ introduction letter and a pen friend application. I remember thinking, “Well, I guess the decision to get involved has been made!” That was a good thing - it’s been a gratifying experience and I feel I’ve had an impact on my friend’s life.
Someone recently asked, “What do you have in common with an inmate and what do you write about?” After some time in establishing a friendship, our “conversation” just flowed, and we never seem to run out of things to say. I feel fortunate that I was matched with such a nice and intelligent young man - I have written to a couple others (who were eventually released) who I didn’t “click” as well with, and I must admit it wasn’t as easy writing to them. But I’ve no doubt that it still spread some “Paper Sunshine” their way, which is really the point.
Thank you, Don and Yvonne, for dedicating your lives to such a
worthwhile ministry, and letting me be a part of it! Your friend,
I met Don and Yvonne at Eddyville in Kentucky when they came to inform me of my wife’s death by gunshot. If these two people had not been the ones to inform me, I would have lost it. I was not a Christian then but am now. They started me at the foot of the cross and I go back there often.
We met on the yard - those two spent little time in the Chapel. They taught us to study the Bible and fellowship. I got out two years ago and followed the God Squad’s plan. While in, try to find a job when you get out. No matter how tough, try to hook up with relatives. Find a church that believes in the whole Bible. I got out, was able to live with a cousin, had two prospects for a job, took one, joined a church called Just Church. Yvonne was right, “to be free in Jesus is to be free indeed.”
BE A FRIEND
When God called me into Prison Ministry I extended that invitation to my bride and helpmate, Yvonne. She knew nothing about the world she was going into and was really not prepared. But a short time later at San Quentin she went out on the main yard pointing at the sky, and a bunch of inmates came over asking what she was looking at. She said, “That’s where Jesus is coming from. Sit, and I’ll tell you about it!” Six of those men were “lifers.” Another time at Jackson she sat under a tree with her Bible and started a Bible study that still goes on today.
You can accomplish what she did without even leaving your home! This Ministry is called Pen Friend; being friends is what we must try to establish before attempting to lead those in prison to Christ or help them grow in Christ. Do not be “churchy,” but friendly. We each believe we have chosen the right Church with the right doctrines, but we should realize that it is IN the blood of Christ that we are saved. I think back on the many folks who guided my path to the foot of the cross. As prison Chaplains we had to be the shepherd of all religions, and learning a bit about each religion helped us in our walk.
Many years ago we made the mistake of joining with another ministry whose leader did not support us when we solicited folks to give $1.50 a month for 5 years. We discontinued our relationship when he told us that was not fund raising.
The amount of the donation is not important, although we do have a few who donate larger amounts and we pray they stay with us. Every other month we take the donated dollar bills and deposit them. All donations between now and the end of the year are important.
As usual, the government wants to get involved in how we spend our money. We’ve heard there may be some changes in the way things are done regarding donations to religious groups, but we are praying this does not happen.
NOT MY KID
The world is our home until we claim the reservations made by Jesus in a much better place. It is such a shame to see the conditions of our youth, to watch them going to hell because they don’t have the Truth. Go to the mall and see our youth - check out your child’s computer to see where they have been. If you do not know how, learn.
Dan was a good kid, good student and a good son. He went to a party and wanted to belong to the “in” crowd. He was asked to smoke a joint and said no. They kidded him that he would never hang with them, so he smoked. He got hooked, started stealing, and at age 16 he got a gun and tried to rob a store, killing a clerk.
What did his desire to belong get him? He was forced to perform oral sex in jail and was gang-raped in prison, and eventually took his own life. At another party one of the kids said, “Whatever happened to Dan?” Everyone without Jesus has a void they are trying to fill. Won’t you help them fill the void with Jesus?
DEATH PENALTY, FOLLOW UP
We mentioned in a past newsletter that the cost of an inmate’s death is more than serving life in prison. That statement was challenged, and so we would like to explain. The reason that the cost ends up higher is that our legal system lets a death row inmate file for several appeals, which ends up being very expensive. Also, there is much more security involved, meaning more paid personnel.
SHARE YOUR PEN FRIEND EXPERIENCE
Often new folks ask if they can talk with another pen friend for reassurance and to get suggestions. If you would not mind speaking with others to share your experiences, please let us know by providing your name and phone number. Also, we love receiving letters telling about your pen friend experiences.