|Vol. 2000 No. 7 July 2000
THIS WORLD IS NOT MY HOMESomeone Cares Home Page
Such a pretty song with so much meaning. In prison even more. The Christians in prison know that we are just passing through, and it makes some of the trials and tribulations a bit easier. Had they learned "my treasures are laid up way beyond the blue," most would not be in prison for taking someone else's things. TVs in the living room, bedroom and kitchen direct our kids to be-ieve immorality of all kinds is normal.
There are men and women are in prison who have never had a home or a Christian upbringing, and need to hear from you what it's like, not preachy. We attempt to instill in them the need for morning devotional, prayer time, and quiet time.
NOW YOU TAKE MY DAD...
Wish I could tell you more about him, but I can't. His name was John like mine. He went to work long hours and I guess was a good provider. He did find time to go to one of my ball games as I grew up. He left before we made a come-back to win. When he came home early, which was not often, he grabbed a drink and turned on CNN. Mom would ask what kind of a day he had.
"Oh just another day." Never did find out what that was.
I started using drugs when I when I was 13, had taken a little booze from dad's bar before that. The high I got made my boring life a little better. I guess I can tell you more about Mash, ER, or Jag than I can about my parents. We went on vacation once.
I was 17 when I got in trouble. I had gone to a party with friends and they got blasted, high. I guess I was in the best shape and drove. Did not make home but made it into a tree, killing my two best friends. Three days before my eighteenth birthday, two weeks to graduation. "Guilty" still rings through my ears, and my mother sobs. Seven to 15 years in prison.
I was waiting to be transferred to prison when a man came to the bars of my cell.
"Jesus Loves You."
"Son, the only way you will make it through what is coming, is through the power of Jesus." We used to go to church on Easter only to party after. He gave me a Bible and we talked. I got more attention and Love from Bill than I ever had from home. I have 2 years left and want to tell you I am a new man, "Born Again". Dad and Mom came to see me once, George came every three months. My sister told me that my folks said I joined the service. But they were right.
I now serve a risen Savior.
NEW PEN FRIENDS
When a male or female inmate signs up for a Pen Friend, even though they read the rules, they don't know what to expect. Frankly you may not be it. If you don't connect, please return the packet and we will rematch you both. Your talents to enter this ministry are needed. If you are writing a person who writes little, please accept another. If letters are short and dull (they have little to write about), ask kind questions to help them.
Please do not put any stickers on your envelopes. Some use this way to get drugs in, and prisons will reject your mail. If you make a promise, keep it, please. Read Hebrews 13:3 and find out what it means. Our job is to lead those in prison to Jesus, not our churches. Doctrine is O.K. once the relationship with Christ is established.
We held a large Bible study awhile back. I invite men or women to ask any question they want. If it applies to the study we deal with it then; if not on the study, we deal with it later. Our concern is getting these folks to know Jesus.
Is there an eternal hell?
Can you go to Heaven if you dont speak in tongues?
If, at the Rapture, the Christians go and the rest stay and still have a chance to make it, I can party now and go later, right??
Once our name is in the Book of Life, will it stay there?
These are valid questions, but very dangerous to deal with in a mixed group.
We believe in the K.I.S.S principle: [K]eep [I]t [S]imple, [S]aint. At one prison where we were, a group of Volunteers was teaching the inmates how to speak in tongues! How do you teach a gift?HAPPINESS IS TO KNOW THE SAVIOR
We have had the joy of speaking in over 450 churches and God has blessed. Is "church" in our lives just something we do, or some-thing that makes us want to do something for Jesus?
His name was Rick and he was as big as a mountain. I was walking across the yard and he stopped me. When you are stopped by a man 6' 8" and 300 pounds of solid muscle, you pay attention.
He said "I was walking by the Chapel and heard you say 'To be free in Jesus is to be free indeed! What does all that mean.?'"
I explained that, with a relation to Jesus, He takes all our burdens and makes them His. He gives us peace within so we can be free.
"You mean," said Rick, "Jesus could get me out of this prison?" Key word: "could."
"Yes, if you believe and recieve and are willing to follow all the principles of God's word."
"I'm serving a double life sentence!"
I Gulped. "Well my new friend, unless you try, you will never know. If you do nothing, you will die in here."
Rick devoured the Bible, learned how the Jesus Freedom Act works. That was 16 years ago. By the time you get this, Rick will be free. He told me doing the time for doing the Crime was hard. Becoming a Christian in prison was difficult but he is scared to death of going back out to a world so messed up.--Pray for Rick.
The sirens blasted their eerie noise through the night. For miles around folks knew the prison was having trouble. Small riots are often happening with all the gangs and drugs in prison. After an incident, the prison is locked down. We sing a song "Jesus on the Mainline" and someone has to take Him there.
Corcoran had such an incident. I will take you into a locked dorm on one of the yards. This dorm had all the white and black inmates. As I went inside, the men were all over me. Holy hugs were many. I found out they had organized 3 Bible study groups. Neat! The tension was great, as they all knew as soon as the unlock happened, retaliation was going to as well. Organized prayer was needed, and how we prayed! It is good stuff knowing that men and women were wise enough to Turn Their Eyes Upon Jesus. I told them of their guardian angels, the presence of The Holy Spirit, and reminded them of intercession going on in heaven. So often in prison one or two trouble makers cause all to be affected. Satan is a powerful enemy and Jesus needs all of is in prayer for Peace On The Earth.
You often wonder why things can't be sent into prison. A hard back book can turn into a knife, plastic of any kind can be molded. The way of prison is survival. Everyone who is gang connected has a shank somewhere, Shakedowns are an ongoing experience. As our prisons bulge at the seams, hate festers and grows. I remember as a kid I got beat up by a couple of guys. I got a couple more and we beat them up, they got a few more and we had a rumble. Every day of their time they fear for their life. All around is someone planning to rip off someone else. At first, when a young inmate is raped, you wish you could do something, but you learn to turn away, praying it does not happen to you. You try to keep your cell in order; during a shakedown it is torn apart. While you put it together it is torn apart again. This system does get to you after a period. As the summer gets hot so do tempers and tensions. Mood swings are a way of life and you enter this madness with no experience or warning. Paper Sunshine is a program that works, but it takes you and yours. Remember, brothers and sisters, don't try to bring your friend up to where you are with your first letter. Try to meet them where they are. Ask questions, send in clips that add humor, be a shoulder to cry on.
NO! NO! NO!
When I wrote for a Pen Friend I did not want some little 11-year-old kid. But thank God, through you, Jesus sent her to me. I was not going to answer but hearing my name called for the first time in 11 years was great. Mouths of babes. This young girl shared her Jesus, her school, and her family. It helped when mom and pop added a line now and then. Yesterday was my birthday and the shock of a life time. My name was being called for a visit! I had never had a visit. There was Sue, Mom and Dad. They were not on my visiting list. The warden had granted them special permission.
Guys, let me tell you. if you sign up for a Pen Friend, take whoever God sends, and don't abuse the chance. I laughed when I read about the two-pile system of matching us with free folks. Yes! Yes! Yes! to a program that got through to me.YVONNE'S CORNER
This is the month that so many will be celebrating Independence Day. While it is true we have much more freedom in this country than other countries, are we taking it for granted and just going through our regular routine? Or are we daily witnessing for our Lord and Savior? Last month I gave some scriptures that were not in the N.I.V. Bible. Some of those scriptures were omitted, and others had words omitted. What happened to the verse that says not one jot or tittle shall be changed Mark 11:26, Matt.23:14, Rom.10:15? Please do some comparing and let us know how you view this.
It has been one year this month since my Father passed away and yes, our lives feel very empty. Throughout his ministry he used this poem and I would like to pay tribute to him by passing it on to you:
DO NOT JUDGE TOO HARD
Pray, don't find fault with the man who limps
Or stumbles along the road,
Unless you have worn the shoes he wears
Or struggled beneath his load.
There may be tacks in his shoes that hurt,
Though hidden away from view;
And the burden he bears, placed on your back,
Might cause you to stumble, too.
Don't sneer at the man who's down today,
Unless you have felt the blow
that caused his fall, or felt the shame that only the fallen know,
You may be strong, still the blows that were his,
If dealt to you in the selfsame way,
Might cause you to stagger, too.
Don't be too harsh with the man who sins,
Or pelt him with words or stones,
Unless you are sure, yea, doubly sure,
That you have no sins of your own.
For you know, perhaps, if the tempter's voice
Should whisper as soft to you
As it did to him when he went astray,
"T'would cause you to falter, too.
A JOURNEY (Part 2)
by Robert L. Perry, Jr.
I served time in three different prisons, six years in the system without the Lord. As time passed I blamed Him for all the bad things that happened to me. I separated myself from Him and failed to accept any respons-ibility for my actions. I failed to understand that whatever I planted was what I would also harvest.
On January 2, 1996, I was paroled. I walked out the front door of the prison without asking the Lord for His guidance. On February 9, I had a heart attack. I was only 41 years old when I had quadruple bypass surgery. The Lord was speaking to me, but I was weak and failed to listen. The Lord's power is the strongest when we are the weakest.
My cardiologist told me I would never work again. But the Lord brought me back physically stronger! The first six months of my parole I spent in a cardiac rehab program, and returned to work a year later. I went to the local community college full time, remodeled a house, started a wood shop, joined Hospice, completed a legal assistant training program and obtained a commercial driver's license. I even passed the Michigan Department of Transportation physical and got a job driving a semi truck!
During the time I was on parole, I stayed out of trouble and complied with the stipulations of the parole board. Then one evening, four days before Christmas (1997) and with only four days left before I discharged off parole, I received a technical rule violation and was returned to prison. I was given a year for violating the rule, and when that year was up, I was given another two years for violating the same rule. I did not know why all these bad things were happening to me. I should not have been surprised by the fiery trials that were coming in order to test me. When the Lord speaks, I had to learn how to listen-learn to not try to walk through life alone. I know now the Lord will always walk with me until the end of time.
I met a wonderful woman while I was on parole. She is gone now, too. We are living in two different worlds. She had to leave me, but I know the Lord will never leave me! I wish her much happiness and joy. The rest of my life I shall have many fond memories of our time together. When times are good, be happy. When times are bad, consider that the Lord made the one time as well as the other so mortals cannot predict their futures.
After all I had experienced, my mind was made up. No more false promises! Instead, I placed my entire life in the Lord's hands. Ask, and you will receive. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened for you.
My life in the past was full of iniquity, transgression and sin. The more I studied God's Word, the more I could see I was not living the life He intended for me. I have now learned God's Law, the very essence of Himself. He has put into each law who He is, and what He stands for. Most of all, I have learned what kind of person I want to be. Learning the true meaning of repentance has been the highlight of my studies. Sin can and will be forgiven if a person repents and uses the power of prayer.
My knowledge has dramatically increased now that I am allowing the Lord to guide me. He has brought peace and comfort into my life, softened my heart and opened my mind. He has revealed to me that all my past mistakes were but tests to prepare me for what He has planned for me. I know the plans He has for me are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give me a future filled with freedom and hope. Be very happy when the Lord tests you in different ways. Such testing of your faith produces endurance. Endure until the testing is over.
Although I remain in prison, I am beginning a new journey and chapter of my life. I still have a long way to go, and do not yet consider myself a total winner. I do not look back, or dwell on my past mistakes. Instead, I lengthen my stride, and run straight toward the goal, to win the prize that the Heavenly call offers through Christ Jesus - eternal life!
As long as I remain within these walls, I am still free. I have found the truth and the truth has set me free! Whenever I may walk out the front door of this prison, God will have His arm around me, and I will have my arm around Him. God has met me where I am, in prison, and called me toward more mature relationships and faith as I go. I have an extreme sense of peace in my life!
God is So Good! Amid all the disasters this Spring has dished out, He has spared the essentials and me. He is greatly to be praised. I've lost two friends, the van, I was nearly killed, a pipe in the well pit sprung a leak, and the office ceiling drips when it rains. God has kept the replacement car intact, the video and computer gear is still safely covered up, and the roof is the last item on the list. His angels care for us always!!! Praise Him!