|Vol. 2002 No. 4 April 2002
Dear Don and Yvonne,Someone Cares Home Page
At home today to read your latest newsletter. Therefore, I considered this is the right time to let you know what I am "doing, where"? Thanks for asking.
We have been keeping a rather involved and busy schedule. Retirement is the best time of my life, but really different than I expected. The freedom to go and do without the responsibility of being at a daily assignment is a wonder-ful blessing.
I check in at Faith For Today on a weekly basis to assist in any way that they may request. Mainly, I write a few letters or represent the ministry with speaking assignments at certain events. In connection with NRB they have asked me to go to Nashville in a couple of weeks to speak at one of our churches on Sabbath morning and host a media rally in the afternoon. I am glad to go or do when asked, but purposely stay away otherwise because the folks there (at Faith For Today) need to be free to make decisions without encumbrance of my ideas. I have a thing about old guys hanging around too long at some of the church’s ministries when new blood is needed.
As you would expect, since I will be in Nashville, I will be seeing Stephen West. While we only write occasionally, and I do not get his calls any more, we do stay in touch. The whole situation for Stephen has been quite an ordeal. You may have known that he was scheduled for execution last March.
He was moved to death watch and was within 12 hours of the chair (his choice). We (his friends) had turned over every possible stone we could find, a legal team worked tirelessly on a pro bono basis, all seeming of no avail. Then a judge, on a technicality that he finally acknowledged, ordered a stay.
Actually, Stephen had given up and was demanding that all of us back off and let the exe-cution go through. He was tired of the terrible hassles by guards and even the warden. I had written a special delivery letter to Stephen that was given him on death watch in which I urged him to not give up or give in. If the state executed him in spite of every appeal that could be made, certainly, he is secure in God's love for eternity. However, if he resists efforts to intercede he may in fact be taking himself out of God's hands. He welcomed the judge's stay.
Steve was returned to the row and an empty cell. Authorities had already, while he was still alive, disposed of all of his possessions, including his personal pictures and journal that he had been writing for his girls. Of course, Stephen was devastated, and almost sorry he was alive. It was a very tough time.
As far as I am able to tell, death row circumstances in Tennessee are atrocious. Inmates are primarily subject to political whim. And, in Tennessee, there is a thirst for blood in the ruling political party. But, praise the Lord, there are people of character who are resisting the system. I have even written to the governor a very respectful appeal. But I did not receive even the courtesy of a reply.
Well, enough of that. I will see Stephen while I'm in Nashville. By the way, I have a very good relationship with one of the Chaplains. He is a godly man who is ministering the best he is able. And, I have put Stephen in touch with other SDA friends in Tennessee who visit him as much as they can.
Obviously, God continues to bless SOMEONE CARES in very special ways. You folks are on my prayer list. Straight ahead.
Oh, I should mention than I am working mostly with a children's ministry called HisKids Inc., that is working with underprivileged boys and girls in the public schools. Very challenging but rewarding. Blessings to you both.
Much love, Dan
GOD IS GOOD
I saw your web site and it’s truly a blessing to have you around. I’m one of the counselors for the Hispanic male pen pal. I’ve been fighting for him for seven months. I know God is able, He has healed my life in so many ways that words can’t express, other than to say He heard my cry.
I was raped five years ago in Florida jails. After giving God my life I put the captain in jail and changed the Florida law where there was no law to charge him; I was healed when they said I couldn’t walk any more; He gave me a home when I was almost homeless and money when I was broke.
I know this battle in this country is not ours, it’s the Lord’s.
Cassandra(If you would like to see what the law has done for her, go to Yahoo on the internet and type in Cassandra Collins, or try [email protected])
YOU BE THE JURY
Just the facts: A young woman was at her job which she’d had for 12 years. Her supervisor told her he’d had a sexual fantasy about her for over eight years. She went to his supervisor, with a witness to the incident, and filed a complaint. The man was called in and tearfully admitted his problem. The young woman was told that he would get medical attention and evalu-ation. Also that he would no longer be her supervisor. The medical hasn’t happened, and though technically not her supervisor, he still is.
His wife, who also works in this plant, attacked the young woman, accusing her of touch-ing her husband inappropriately. Had she not been told her husband admitted to what he did? All this was witnessed.
The young woman went to higher ups and was told the problem would be resolved. As of this writing all that has happened is that the young woman is being chastised for blowing the whistle. The wife is not allowed in her area, nor vice versa. The husband and wife are now blaming the young woman for causing all the trouble.
- Should the man be penalized for harassment?
- Should the wife be penalized for attacking the young woman?
- Should the young woman be penalized for reporting an injustice, and forced by her employer to see a psychiatrist?
- What should the plant managers do?
- Should the husband be forced to tell his wife the truth?
God’s Word says “Rebuke publicly so others will fear.” Please give us your feedback as to what you think should be done, including just forgetting all that the company president wants done (forgive and forget).
[vote by mail or email.]
According to the Associated Press, Larry Mayes, 52, spent 21 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. At the age of 31, Mr. Mayes was accused of raping a store clerk. He always maintained his innocence, but no one was willing to listen. That is, not until DNA evidence proved him to be innocent. Now he is a free man, but he can never regain the years out of his life that are forever lost to him. We can never repay him for the deprivation he has suffered. No amount of money will compensate for the years wrongly incarcerated, and subjected to the dehumaniza-tion of a prison environment.
This is why I am against capital punishment. Since 1987, 100 people on America's Death Rows have now proven their innocence through DNA testing. This tells us, Tennessee, that, in all probability, we have executed innocent men and women. How many? No one knows. We do know, however, that this problem exists, and the chance of killing even one innocent person should be enough to deter Christian people from supporting the death penalty. Our Criminal Justice System has serious flaws, and those flaws are plain to see.
I would appeal to Christian people to sit down and write their elected officials, and express non-support for the death penalty. We must turn back to the Bible, and not render evil for evil, but overcome evil with good.
As you may know, the prison door has become a revolving door, and the recidivism rate has reached unprecedented heights in this country. Prison overcrowding is a common problem across the country. We are warehousing them like sardines, and when you place dysfunctional men and women, who are of various races and ethnic backgrounds, in a close-knit environment, you have created a time bomb, just waiting on the clock.
Why is all this true? Because prisons do not rehabilitate--they debilitate. Prisons dehumanize, tear down, and destroy a person's self-esteem even further. Prisons do not offer Christian counseling, and when you leave God out of anything, you have nothing.
Succinctly, prisons are teaching the wrong subject. If wardens would create "faith based honor dorms," and teach "anger management," using the teachings of Christ as a guideline, I believe in a few years we would see a decline in recidivism. One thing is certain, if we continue to do what we are doing now, the problem will "wax worse and worse."
Roy Ellsworth – l Cor. 16:23
As we hear from the different inmates we’ve met over the years, we just praise God that we were allowed into prisons and had the opportunity to share with them. It was hard work, but I would not exchange those experiences for anything this world has to offer. Since we have heard from so many, it made me stop and think...we rarely said what church we attended unless asked. They knew us by our caring, by our actions, by what we said. And isn’t that the way it should be? They knew we loved the Lord and concentrated on Christ’s life when He walked this earth; the price He paid for our sins. We have all sinned, but the sweet Gospel is so simple, all can understand it, and I like it that way. It’s some-thing like this:Everything I need to know, I learned from Noah’s Ark...
1. Don’t miss the boat.
2. Remember, we’re all in the same boat.
3. Plan ahead, it wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark.
4. Stay fit. When you’re 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something really great.
5. Don’t listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.
6. Build your future on high ground.
7. For safety’s sake travel in pairs.
8. Speed isn’t always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.
9. When you’re stressed, float awhile.
10. Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.
11. No matter the storm, when you are with God, there’s always a rainbow waiting.
BECAUSE SOMEONE CARES..
From George: I will never forger meeting you at Soledad South. Rex Burns had retired and you and Yvonne took over. *What a Joy Divine*. I thought I had known the Bible but Yvonne really took us into it. I remember her telling me to put myself into every sentence.
Don, your sermons and the stories you wove through them kept us at attention. It was the saddest moment of my life after getting paroled, to get busted again for next to nothing. I was paroled to the “county of commitment”, a town without pit where I knew no one. I was released with $177.40 and the dress-outs you guys got for me. I got a cheap room and tried to get a job. I really tried. A friend of mine in L.A. told me I could work for him. I went to my parole officer and asked, and was turned down. When my money was almost gone, I left for L.A. and took that job, kept my nose clean, and was able to get a studio apartment and a car. Even had $647 in the bank when I was stopped for a loud muffler on the car and was busted on the spot for a parole violation. Three years, said the judge; my heart was broken. Back to Soledad and into your lives again. You and Yvonne moved to Kentucky, but we kept in touch. My 3 years ended up at 4-1/2. I got in a fight stopping a young man from being raped. Then I lost track of you guys.
Well, parole came and went. I lived in an abandoned home and got a job, a car, another apartment. Met and married, and have two stepsons. I have been free and clean for 3 years now. Last night a pastor friend brought me your newsletter. I called you in a heartbeat and you were there. I am writing so those you share it with know you really do care about us. One day, here or in Heaven, we will all get together. God bless
This Side of Heaven: Don, talking to you as a free man was a joy. You and Yvonne led me to Christ at San Quentin. Yvonne told me that “to be free in Jesus is to be free, indeed.” I never knew you could be free and locked up, but I sure was. When I came to prison I lost all I had: business, wife, kids and everything else. I deserved it. Being educated made prison worse for me. My time was difficult until I met you guys in “C” Section. The stench of that place of hatred and fear was everywhere. We had been locked down for about three months. We were only allowed a shower when the guards felt like it.
I was dirty, half awake/half asleep, when those words “Jesus Loves You” came ring-ing through the fog of my mind. I awoke to see an angel (Yvonne) standing at my cell door. Ashamed, I covered my-self to hide.
She said, “I have something for you.” I lifted myself up and was handed a book “Steps to Christ.” The love of Don and Yvonne, that book, and another called “I’m Going to Bury You,” led me to the Bible and then to Jesus. Sure, I read them because that’s all I had. But God’s word changed my life. The next year they visited me almost twice a month and I got out of Lock-down and started going to the Chapel.
I was really sad when you guys left, but was glad to hear from you every now and then. An early release got us parted. I got a job the day I came out of prison and unlike most, had a place to live.
That was five years ago. Last night, I was trolling the Internet when lo and behold, I came across your web page, visited with you through archived newsletters, visited V.O.P.’s Web and thanked them again for the Bible study they provided me. After talking to you I E-mailed you this. Folks, these folks do care. They also keep their word. Every week at San Quentin they carried big cases from cell to cell, giving out Bibles, writing papers and even stamps. Without their dedication I would not have known Jesus or their lifestyle. They always had prayer circles and we said sentence prayers; that is a habit I have started at my church. Neat stuff.
I have gotten back into business, starting to do pretty good. This is a ministry I will support. Randy (because they cared).
_ WHERE DO WE GO? BUT TO THE LORD _
We have been doing this ministry for so long, it is hard to think of anything else. Several have asked if we plan to retire. NO. We have a joy in the Lord through HIS good works. In the months ahead, we will train many to do what we do, if we can find others as dedicated as we have been.
Someone asked us if we knew how many folks have been touched by the Lord through our ministry. I could never guess. Every day thousands of inmates and free folks write or do a Bible study as a result of Someone Caring. As you’ve just been reading, we get hundreds of letters from inmates who are free from prison and sin.
Please keep all of us in your prayers that this ministry will continue in full vigor until Jesus comes.