Quietly Changing Lives
Over the last year we have done a lot of checking our priorities. Each time we sent a newsletter out we prayed God would direct its path and the results. Sitting at my computer, watching the colors change as we change seasons, I can see the wonder of God. As we look at this world of ours we can�t help thinking how perplexed things are here. Where HE once walked, total turmoil. Oh, for a world of peace. We are sure you may be like us � we hate to turn on the TV because it shows the activity of Satan. The massive death toll around the world from wars, greed, & sickness takes us to God�s word. Then we see our own country split over what is right or wrong. Corruption every-where. Then we see the killing field in our own schools! Why? From that, I pray we all listen and look at what God can do. Young girls were killed for no apparent reason. One of those girls was saying �kill me first,� trying to save the others. Then I watched and listened.
The people to whom this was done, prayed. Prayed for the children, their friends and family, then prayed for the killer, and the killer�s family? In a gesture that I pray was seen around the world, they took up an offering for the killers family! Would I have? Would you have? We turn our eyes toward Africa and so many other countries and see the rape and murder of millions. JESUS WEPT.
SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE
You will receive this just about the time of the election. No I am not telling you how to vote; too many others are doing that. I pray though that you do vote. Thank God we are a free country, though nothing is free.
CALIFORNIA COMES TO INDIANA
We so wanted to return to California. The need there in prison is massive, as I have written before. But apparently God want�s us here. Things in California�s Prison system, as I have written before, are so bad they are sending a bunch of inmates here, not too far away. We are going to try to come there next summer and prayerfully put on programs in several areas. I hope to see some old friends.
SOON IT WILL BE CHRISTMAS
Boy, it sure will be sweet when we spend that in Heaven with no snow. Every year the holidays cause a massive problem for us. We do need to deal with it, with so many new folks joining with us this year.
Do not send anything without checking with the prison your friend is in, and see if the item is allowed.
Prisons are cutting way back. I must say, some of the candy and cookies you sent last year we enjoyed when they were rejected. But we had to pay for the return postage.
Do not ask the inmate what is allowed. Write the Community Service director at your Pen Friend�s address. We suggest a money order for what you want to spend. Make it to: �The Trust Account of:(their name and number.�)
I enjoy your newsletters and pray God becomes a role model in all those lives. Also, that the costs in prison include good re-entry programs that will train every inmate to a better way of life. May God give you, Don & Yvonne, and you, the Pen Friends, the wisdom and strength to pass on to others that they may pick up and be worthy of HIS name. May we all clear the way for HIS return.
GOD IS GOOD
Writes Elva. May the plans of the Evil one be temporary. He might be able to push me off �The Path� but Jesus always picks me up and starts me on my way.
AN ADDITIONAL PEN FRIEND
Writes Marilyn. � In the past, there have been inserts asking me to write an additional inmate. It would mean a lot to me to have an additional person to write.
May God continue to bless and multiply your Prison Ministry. (Only if HE sends free folks to write them.)
PRAISE THE LORD
I learned about your ministry when our son was in jail for 2 years He has been clean and sober for 17 years now and teaches nursing at a Community College
ROUGH AND TOUGH
Their Grandson started turning bad during a break up of his mother and father. He got into drugs and ended up in prison. His mother and father turned their backs on him and so did we. I even lied at church when asked about him.
I was listening to the radio and heard you and Yvonne, and I was so ashamed. Your advice turned our whole family in a different direction. We wrote him and went to visit. He shared his new found faith and what he had learned in a VOP bible study, I could go on but his change changed all of us, including bringing his mom and dad back together. Someone really cares.
A CHILD OF ABUSE
Writes Ruth Ann. Being a child of sexual abuse for many years, I find it very painful to read this man�s letter. Even though it was not popular in the 40s to report this, my mom did and my father spent time. I would be more comfortable in writing a female.
And she shall.
A NOTE OF APPRECIATION
FOR WHAT YOU ALL ARE DOING.
(We are just the clearing house and get credit for what you do.)
This is my third letter to Emmie; the last two have not been answered. If this is not answered I will consider another name. Amen. Here is what we wish all would do. While we were going through our records, I came across 32 names who had written the first letter, got no answer, and quit. With conditions so bad in prison, a stamp can be almost impossible to get. Some prisons did give a few free letters a month, others do not. If you were matched with an inmate and got no answer please return all to us. We will rematch you both. Also if you are writing a difficult inmate, give them back to us; we will write them, and give you another, Speaking of difficult inmates, those of you with a worldly background who might like to write, please take one step forward.
WHERE THE RUBBER HITS THE ROAD:
In checking back to see who was or was not writing we found out a lot. Some of you really battled with Pastors and friends, trying to get them to write. The �we don�t want that kind of people in our Church!�
We hear this quite often. We have taken many a Pastor to prison, telling him on the way, �Don�t try bringing them to your level, get down to theirs. Pretty hard for some.
We have listened a lot lately that the middle class is being left behind. True. But then, where is the lower class?!
Once in awhile we will miss a bad word, and some saints come unglued. This ministry is called Pen Friend. The object is to lead men and women to Christ, but not in the first letter. With growth, we see some problems and need your help. If you are writing a person and getting nowhere, send all the information back to us. We will rematch you. Yvonne, Ronna, or I will take the inmate. Maybe even Jake. Whatever, don�t give up. Many years ago I met a guy name Pete, a born convict, and he might never change. I kept trying to match him and, like many, he would be so nice for a while, then WOW! We would take him back.
Don�t know were he is, but we will hear from him again. Over the years we have preached in over 400 churches, and hope yours is soon. Friends, we really don�t know why some folks go to church. I look down from the front (I don�t like pulpits.) Looking at blank faces. I look back at the world I came from, the jungle of street gangs, and plain sin. Satan trained me well then, and God used all of it. Yvonne came from the opposite back-ground as a Pastors daughter. God had to say �Amen!� when we hooked up.
All her friends worked me over, trying to change me to be fit for her. She was raised in the Christian world and found fun where I came from. That God, HE got inside of me, and she went back to HIM. I wake up thinking can I find someone new to tell about Jesus.
If some of your friends say, �We don�t need that kind of people, remind them who Jesus served time with. We will one day see two of the three from Calvary. Maybe one of you will invite Pete..
Remember, Jesus is the reason for the Season!
We receive letters from Pen Friends that have been writing for years. Some have been writing for as long as twenty-five years or more. It is always so interesting to read the progress reports, some have paroled then they usually ask for another name, others choose to keep writing even though the inmate has paroled. Please remember that if you have any questions, please feel free to call or e-mail us, we will be more than happy to help you. We pray that God will richly bless each of you.
MINISTERING BEHIND THE WALLS
Yvonne and I have been very lucky since the very day we started ministering in prison. We were able to help start many Narcotics Anonymous groups. In these groups many found freedom behind those walls. Age is not barrier my addiction started very young. George�s does not differ from most. Growing up, he always harbored feeling of inadequacy. He used drugs as a confidence booster, and it suppressed any bad feeling he had. Every thing he said he would never do, he did. He lied cheated, and stole. Ending up in prison. Paul was 41, and already had a long record of jails and institutions. Reform school at ten, I grew up in that system. His drug use at 15 on release from reform school, he started a dedicated life to drugs and crime. These two men we met about the same time. I spoke at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, both attended. The twelve steps I talked about were all out of God�s word. What seemed to make a difference, and get their attention, was a story I told about myself. I had attended both NA and AA. At a very large meeting were I was the guest speaker, my story ended differently than most. Instead of standing up and saying I�m an alcholic or drug addict.� I said, �I�m a Christian. I�m not an ex-anything, but a newborn child of God. From the time I accepted Christ, I was free. I spent 35 years in that world and can never go back, as that is not God�s direction.
I have no intention in saying the 12 Steps of all the 12-Steps programs are wrong, but to be free in Jesus is to be free indeed.
Both George and Paul have been free from addiction for over 25 years. Their new addiction, Jesus, keeps them high enough. I asked a friend of mine once, dry for 20 years, when the last time was that he felt the need for a drink. His reply �about ten minutes ago.�
Prior to my taking Jesus in and letting HIM take over, I drank, smoked, and did drugs. When, in a Pastor�s study in California I went to my knees without Jesus and arose with Him, I never had a moment�s withdrawal pangs. Amen!
My friends, again we see addictions in our youth. Say no to Drugs, but then what?
GOD BLESS YOU BOTH
I have been receiving your newsletter for over five years now. I love the work you are doing for inmates. As a former inmate, I can certainly say it�s quite a ministry and well needed! When I was in jail in Ludlow, Mass, I went to every Bible study they had, but really enjoyed the Saturday morning studies with the Seventh day Adventist church on State Street in Springfield, Mass.
We used to have some lively debates, but they were always patient and loving. But what impressed me the most is that they even came and visited me after I got out! That�s unheard of by most ministries. I did go visit their church service, too, one Saturday morning. I also work with many Seventh day Adventists at my job at 700 Club.
I'm enclosing a $10.00 donation, wish I had more. You did send me a pen friend, but where I lived at the time they didn't want any prison mail coming to their house, and the fellow asked for a white female, so I never wrote him, but intended to send the letter back to you. I still have it somewhere, if you want it, and now if you can send me another pen friend, i will write. i prefer female, but whoever is ok. Be blessed,
(Contact Someone Cares if you want this person�s address.)
The above letter set a train of thought rolling down my mental track because of several recent events.
1. Since I live in a very rural area, it hasn�t occurred to me what the mail carrier might think about several sets of letters from inmates, that enter or leave my box. It doesn�t really worry me because either I personally know the inmate, or an inquiry may come from an inmate who has seen my business name in a book by Dr. Andrew Weil. That inquiry will be handled here unless an inmate wants to correspond. In that case, Someone Cares gets the information.
2. If a family member is to be paroled to you, be prepared to stand firm on the side of the rules and uphold them strictly. If you�re lucky enough to have a cooperative parolee, the transition will be much smoother. Your parolee may likely be a bit jumpy at first. Prison life has changed him or her. There are onerous prison rules, yard rules, cell rules, social rules, territorial rules, and either a ticket from a guard or a wound from a fellow inmate as pay-back for an offense. Tickets = loss of privileges or �good time� toward freedom. Some guards are fair, some take advantage of their position.
3. Once in the �bosom of his/her family,� your Parolee will likely have to go straight from release to you, to meet with a Parole Officer in the county in which you live. The �P.O.� will lay out the rules, set a curfew time, and expect you to be up front with him or her at all times. Make a P.O.�s life easy and your Parolee�s will be also. On office visits, a �drop test� may be required. This is a urine sample to test for drugs. Failure to test �clean� can mean return to prison.
4. Your home will be visited by the P.O. or other official, to make sure it�s habitable, It�s not a �white glove inspection;� just insuring that living conditions give your parolee some privacy and a reasonably comfy place to sleep.
5. Good ways to establish trust: the first few days of being home, is a time to lay out rules of behavior, household duties, tele-phone and auto usage, manners (if necessary). Motivation and cooperation should encourage the transition.
If you�re lucky, your church will welcome the �prodigal� home with joy, no prying questions asked. Lots of TLC goes a long way toward reentry.
If your parolee was used to driving, it may be necessary to renew a driver�s license and acquire a car to get to work.
6. Being locked up for several years among the hard-hearted will make an inmate old and hard- looking. They have acquired some grey hair; given up freedom to think for themselves; living on nutritionally depleted food gulped hastily due to time limits. Some call these facilities a �razor-wire resort.�
7. Finances are an issue; you both should talk calmly and frankly about the money that�s necessary, to sustain the transition; that you need to prepare a budget for rent, utilities, laundry, etc., so that when he/she finds a job the repayment plan goes into effect. I wish you all well.