|Vol. 2002 No. 2 February 2002
YVONNE’S CORNERSomeone Cares Home Page
This year I made it a point to read all the Christmas letters and cards that we received, and I just want to say Thank You for all the words of encouragement that each of you sent to us. It means so much to us; actually that is what keeps us going.
Then we received some beautiful hand-made Christmas cards from inmates, who were thanking us for the great work that each of you does as a Pen Friend. I'll never forget the one I read with tears in my eyes, as he explained when he first wrote for a Pen Friend (he wanted several). In his card he said he was so thankful for the one he had, and would not want more than one; he would rather share with others who have no one to write to them.
Then there is the letter from a correctional officer who had just finished reading one of our Newsletters that an inmate shared with him. He states in his letter "It has always amazed me that some of the truly beautiful hearts beat within the chests of men who have been devastated so completely." He also states "I feel a program like you pro-vide, can provide a lifeline to those who need someone to help them up."
You may think that just writing to an inmate is not noticed by anyone, but as you can tell, the Correctional Officer even noticed!
We may be very surprised when we get to heaven to see many of the changed inmates there that you were so faithfully sharing with. Oh what a happy day that will be for all. Maybe you could try in this New Year to write to someone? By the way, there is E-mail. We E-mail, and if you want to contact me, my address is [email protected]
_ THIS WORLD IS NOT MY HOME _
...and we are glad we are just passing through—but especially that we are getting to know many of you. We are so blessed for all that so many of you do. I received a letter that read "Folks, I came across a paper from you when I pledged $18.00 a year for eight years and I promised to write an inmate. I never did either, Enclosed is a check for $200.00 and please send me five names. God Bless both of you. She later called and told us that this commitment reminded her of many other promises she had made.
_ I'VE GOT A HOME IN GLORY LAND _
Many inmates will be in that home with you and us, because most of you do really care. We got another call from a friend and supporter that makes us want to share their question. Are we paid anything by our Church?
No. I fill in and preach whenever I can, for free. We work in prison, or for prisons, but receive no pay.
The money we receive is from free-will offerings and Love Gifts from many of you. We were really worried the end of last year as things were not coming in as they were before 9/11. But the Holy Spirit touched many and we ended up in the black. How does our funding work? We are paid a housing allowance, and medical expenses. We than take care of travel and automobile expenses. After that we are paid a stipend not to exceed $1,000 each. If funding is short, we are paid less. If it’s over, we carry over for a rainy day. We are good stewards of your donations and waste not. As soon as our unpaid bookkeeper is done with 2001, we will break it down for you. God always supplies our needs through you. Postage is going up 3 cents a letter soon, and God will touch a heart to care for the increase. Our cars, except for one, are donated. I am not ashamed to say that at times so are our clothes—not because we are broke; we just have better uses for your donations, which are all tax deductible.
So when we say that “Because of you, Someone Cares,” we mean it. If everyone reading this who has never supported Someone Cares would send a dollar a month, we could double the size of our efforts again in a year. It has been, and always will be, the Widows/Widowers Mite that supports this ministry. We pray hard for those little larger checks that come in every once in awhile. A visiting friend, looking over our books, said “You are really blessed!” It looks like you have about 200 real faithful donors, another 300 sort of regular donors, and many who plug the gap at times when funds are needed. A dear Saint, who died last month, had sent us $2.00 dollars a month for 22 years. Her last letter had $6.00 and her love. Because of you, we were able to put about $600.00 in savings last year. But a massive amount was added to our account in heaven.
_ DO LORD _
...not only remember us but all of those connected with us. We have members from every known church, and some I have never heard of, as part of this ministry. Folks from every state in the U.S. and 11 foreign countries somehow help us reach into every prison in the U.S., and prisons in three foreign countries. We receive so many requests from inmates daily for Pen Friends that the waiting period is almost four months. If each of you would ask your pastor to post the following at Church we can fill the demands. Our Pen Friend Program may be one of the most active ministries in the U.S. prison system.
DEVOTED CHRISTIANS WILLING TO WRITE AN INMATE THROUGH A RISK-FREE PEN FRIEND PROGRAM SO SAFE THAT CHILDREN ARE LEADING CHILD MOLESTERS TO CHRIST!
YOUR ADDRESS IS NEVER GIVEN OUT, AND THE MAIL FROM THE INMATE IS READ (MOST OF THE TIME) BEFORE YOU RECEIVE IT, FOR YOUR PROTECTION. WE WILL SEND AN INFO PACKET TO YOU. IF, AFTER PRAYER, YOU ARE COMFORTABLE WITH THE INMATE GOD HAS CHOSEN FOR YOU, WRITE. IF NOT, RETURN THE INFORMATION. Hebrews 13:3
PO Box 472
Columbus IN 47202
We do apologize for Christmas mail which was massive and we could not read it all. If you had any problems, contact us.
IF IT’S NOT BROKEN DONT FIX IT
Well, it broke and we lost almost all our E-mail addresses. Please re-E-mail us with the word ADDRESS in the subject line.
If you needed a receipt and did not get it, please contact us, as part of our contribution file disappeared in the crash. All the funds received - did they get where they were supposed to go? We did have back ups but we need to verify the numbers.
I don’t have adequate words to thank all of you who give so much, especially of yourselves. I wish we had time to write a Thank You note for all you do. Know in our heart of hearts we lovingly and prayerfully thank you. If you have E-mail, we can jot you a note every know and then.
IN OUR SPARE TIME (Again, we get credit for your generosity.)
I would like to express my gratitude for the wonderful kindness you and your supporters are showing here at Walton Correctional Institution. Early last year, you published in your newsletter telling of our needs in the chapel library. The response has been heart- warming. We have received donations small and large, especially one in California. These precious donations help to enrich the lives of men incarcerated here as they grow in faith and know Someone Cares
Barry Collins, Chaplain
_ OUR GOD IS AN AWESOME GOD _
Yvonne and I are overjoyed at the result of your efforts through us. Well over 200.000 inmates have completed Bible studies. To our knowledge, almost 500 inmates have been baptized. More than we can count have joined a church and stayed out of prison Amen!!
HIS NAME IS JOE
He wrote to us several years ago asking for a Pen Friend. We matched him, the person never wrote. We matched him again and that person never wrote. Well, the third time was a charm. Joe had finished the 6th grade and could not write very well. Using our two-pile system we matched him with a retired school teacher. Through the mail and with lots of care, this man has learned to read and write. On his third try, he passed his G.E.D On Christmas day he was baptized and received a visit from a sister he had not seen in 20 years. The visit was arranged by his Pen Friend.
TWO CARE PROGRAM
Would you like to visit an inmate in your area? We are going to spend the next year building the Two-Care Program—a one-to-one or family visitation program. It will take awhile to get this going, but we need names on file for those willing to try. It is a really neat way to spend a day a month, and God will bless.
DEAL ON WHEELS
We are once more in need of a second car. Yvonne and I are going in two directions at the same time and we are wearing out two cars. We need a good solid used car.
PEN FRIEND VALENTINE
It’s been a while since I wrote you. There is plenty of things I wanted to pass on. I was writing an inmate at Ironwood State Prison. E.W. and I wrote for about a year and a half if not a little more than that.
We were both shaky about each other. You could see it in our letters. We settled in about our third or fourth exchange of letters. After eight or nine months, my family started asking about E.W. They started sending notes and small encouraging sentiments on the backs of the letters. He started telling me about his family, and I told him of mine. We both encouraged each other in our own ways.
E.W. made it past strikes, stabbings, setups to take him down to.... we know what they wanted to do, right? There were so many times when the mail couldn't get back and forth as fast as we both wanted it to. He encouraged me so many times with his strength of conviction... Let me tell you—as far as E.W. was concerned, there was no one on earth that was going to take him away from Christ. After reading his letters and having time to think on this, I came to the conclusion that there are no more obvious or stronger relationships with Christ than those in our nation’s prisons. Throughout the time that the Lord gave me with my good friend E.W., He (the Lord) put before me a least 10 to 12 situations in E.W.'s time at Ironwood. Every time that I know of, Jesus Christ took his faithful E.W. out of danger, and conquered the enemy's plans, lifting him out every time.
During what would be our last spring writing each other, I planned to visit him at Ironwood. I did not tell E.W. You see, he had never had a visitor. He had lost his wife and child. His mother was extremely bitter over the past, and was not capable of healing. During my trip out to Blyth (which is the Ironwood location) I was immersed in the anticipation and thinking about what the Lord had in store for the two of us.
I guess it took 2.5 hours to get through security and obtain permission to enter the prison. The first thing that happened as I entered the visiting room was a reality check for me. It was a firm reminder of how important it is for love to reach these men somehow, hopefully through Jesus Christ.
I paused to let an inmate in his mid- to late forties come through the door. As he and his female visitor passed, he was saying to her, “No I can't do anything. If I do, I'm dead. They will kill me".
He turned from his friend, looked at me, and said "Thank You" in a tone that indicated my small courtesy may have been the first respect he’d received in months. His remark to his visitor indicated that he might not know Jesus. Oh, how I wish I’d have prayed for that man instantly, or been able to talk to him and tell him of Jesus so he would not have walked out of that visiting room with so little hope.
(I am going to break in here for a moment... If any would ask me what to expect on their visit to an inmate, I can guar-antee that from the moment they step foot on prison ground they will have dozens of prayer needs put in front of them. Ask and be ready to be used by the Holy Spirit. With His help, you will see so many opportunities to lift these men and women up. Please don't let something like this be passed up as I did.)
Back to the story: I checked in and asked if they knew what E.W. looked like. They did not. The guard agreed to point him out. Another 15 minutes went by. The next group of inmates came through the security doors. A tall, slender brother of color had a very puzzled look on his face. He couldn't imagine why they would bring him out there to the visiting room.
I walked over to him. The guard and I looked at each other and the guard indicated this was E.W. He was almost numb with the joy he had. I don't think he’d had that much joy in a surprise for many years. We hugged and found a table. You should have seen the reaction in the visiting room. Brothers of color hugging each other lovingly. I guess it took about five minutes for the visiting room to get back to normal.
E.W. and I had a wonderful visit sharing and talking about common experiences. Those experiences that we shared were a big surprise. We were from two different worlds. Dif-ferent circumstances, but we had some of the very same life lessons. This brought us even closer. As time goes when you're having fun, we found ourselves at the end of our visit and neither of us wanted to finish what the Lord had placed before us. We reluctantly said our good-byes and separated. I watched him get ready to go back into reality. I don't know if I have ever seen a man's expression change so drastically. He had to put on his game face, and he did.
I did not hear from him for another 30 days. He had written a couple of days after the visit but his letter somehow was quite delayed. E.W. went on to tell me how the gang tensions had been real tight. There had been a lot of guys getting shanked. Many of the incidents were highly racial acts of violence.
Not 15 minutes after I left him, before I was even off the prison grounds, another stabbing had occurred. This is where the Lord showed me the strength of a man who knows the perfect Holy love of our Savior, Jesus Christ. E.W. and another brother decided to bind satan (not capitalized for a reason) in the prison yard. They went out arm in arm, praying out loud without fear, with love in their hearts. No one touched them. If I remember right, the way E.W. said it—“You could see it in their eyes. They weren't going to take on Jesus Christ."
I shared this recently at my Thursday night men's group. A couple of the men had a good picture of what reality is for these men. They were in awe for a minute or two. They had never thought of being called to anything like this.
I find myself back in a situa-tion spiritually and emotionally where I am ready to write another inmate. I would like to request an Ironwood inmate if that is possible.
God Bless the two of you richly in your ministry. God Bless you in your family life.
Rob doesn’t say whether he’s ready for a new Pen Friend be-cause of his experience with EW or perhaps something happened to his friend. Please pray for Rob and all our faithful Pen Friends.
Satan is working overtime these days, to take out as many of God’s children as he can. If the devil reminds you of your past, to discourage you, just remind him of his future!