Quietly Changing Lives
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
What an exciting year it was! We watched as the world economy took a tumble, praying it would not affect us. We grew by about 25%. We were so very blessed to have 9 Church groups join us and taking on about 200 inmates as Pen Friends. We have 8 Pen Friends writing over 30 inmates each.
AMEN God is so good.
We watched several Prison Ministries fold and we are trying to help them. As we start the New Year we pray we can surpass last year and with your help we will.
2008 RECEIPTS WILL BE SENT WITH THE NEXT NEWSLETTER
BEHIND THE WALLS:
My name in Gina and 2009 is my year. I came to prison 14 years ago as a youth from the inner city Hell’s Kitchen. My crime –manslaughter.
I had killed the Pimp that abused me for years. Streetwise I came in with a chip on my shoulder daring someone to knock it off. Well someone did - “Someone Cares”!
To this day I do not know how Don & Yvonne got my name. “A caring grandma”, but am glad they did. I got a letter from Don asking me if I wanted to be free. He told me that if I turned my life to Jesus I would be free indeed. Yah sure!
That same afternoon I was told my brother was gunned down. Hate welled up inside of me but so did tears?
I had never cried in my life. Don & Yvonne enrolled me in a V.O.P bible study after getting me a wonderful couple as a Pen Friend. No one had ever shared the kindness and love they did. By the time you receive this I will be free, and Jan & George are picking me up and taking me to Grandma’s. If you care, hook up with these folks - Jesus will bless you like HE did me.
MY WALLS ARE COLD:
My name is Eddyville a Prison in Kentucky. Inside of me are the worst inmates this State has. My walls are stone topped by razor wire and no one can leave me unless “Set Free.”
One day I saw a couple coming toward my entrance. I paid no attention, they did not matter. Soon I saw them on my yard, inside my cellblocks, even on my Death Row. Singing was coming from my not very often used Chapel. Satan used to run this place but this God Squad was changing things. Look at that! The lady is sitting on the grass with a bunch of inmates and a Bible. That man is sitting in the middle of Death Row talking to the men. They even had prayed with an inmate with Aids. Got to get rid of them.
HEY HOW ABOUT ME?
I’m called “C” section at San Quentin. Before they went there they were here. No one ever did what they did. Let me tell you a story about one man.
The first day they came here they went right to his cell. He was one bad dude - unclean and unshaven -beard to below his knees and hair way down his back and full of hate. He tried to attack the man but the bars held. They did not stay long. After a year of passing his cell and his hate, he called them back.
The man, Don, had his wife Yvonne, stand behind him, the gun rail guards moved also. He said to Don, “I want to buy what you are selling in here.” That went over his head as he said, “we are selling nothing.” “Yes you are,” the inmate snapped. “I have seen you visit and men have changed. I want some.”
But the woman, Yvonne, stepped in front of him and said, “we are selling nothing - what we have is free.” She spent a couple of hours, standing in front of him and told him of Jesus. Look there is a tear coming down his cheek. Wait some action - the gun rail guards are taking the rifles off their backs and these two are putting arms into his cell holding His hands and praying. He prayed also.
That day Jesus moved into a man’s heart. Soon he was clean shaven and studying God’s Word - then sharing that word with men he had hated for years. I forgot to tell you my cell block is five tiers high with 50 cells to a tier. Two days a week they visited as many men as they could. From me they got the nickname the God Squad. From the Prison they became Someone Cares -because they do.
WAIT A MINUTE:
I’m over here in Michigan. Jackson is my name. The largest walled Prison in the U.S. They spent hour upon hour walking my cell blocks, the yard and the Chapel. I saw men who had given up changing, then changing others. Yvonne said often “do the crime, do the time,” but your God is a forgiving God and if you claim HIS promise you will be set free, maybe not form Prison but from Satan. From morning to night they did one to one counseling and it was all about God. They also worked with men of any Religion, even a guard or two.
HOW ABOUT ME?
I’m in Paso Robles California - The Prison for Youth. Here we got a package of three - Don, Yvonne and my buddy, Mark. Mark was cool as he too is young but wise. They did Bible studies, preaching, singing with Mark at the guitar. I do not think Don is allowed to sing?
One of the young gang bangers inmates wanted to make sure when he grew up he went to a prison with a name everyone knew like those guys above me. We all knew only one future death or prison was the way of the street.
We had a neat Chaplain but these three really added hope to the hopeless. One night we had a pizza party for two of the dorms - homemade and store bought pizza for all. Jesus was the topic and they all listened. Many young inmates made some choices, a little different than they had, with the God Squad’s Help.
LIVE FAST, DIE YOUNG AND HAVE A GOOD LOOKING CORPSE:
As a youth this was the creed I grew up with. When God brought Yvonne and I together, put the Broken Pieces together, and with HIS help we put Someone Cares together - all the above and much more happened. We have been blessed over the years as many lives have been changed. I could not spell “Preacher” now I am one! With the state of the nation and economy, we do need you. If all can give what you gave last year we are sure HE will grant the increase. If you have never given try a MITE.
JESUS ON THE MAIN LINE:
Yvonne and I have put many a mile on our selves and a few cars. We have walked into cell blocks, some times in bullet proof vests. We’ve been through several riots. Yvonne watched a man get his throat cut in front of her.
Why? Because Jesus called us. We spent time in the Chapels mostly one to one with the inmates because we find it is the most effective form of Ministry. This must be why God led Yvonne to the Pen Friend Program - writing risk free and giving inmates a chance to meet a friend and maybe even Jesus. We have had over one million inmates’ complete bible studies.
Another year and Heaven is just a little closer.
We have had joy and sadness in the past year, and will have the same this New Year. We have lost and gained friends. We have gotten priceless notes, gifts, and cards from inmates and friends. I am praying the Lord keeps this Ministry growing and sends the right folks to help. This Ministry has taken over our whole house. My folks would be proud of the fact so many groups are forming and writing inmates. We just pray we can share a moment with each of you somehow this year. Please send us your stories good or bad to share with others.
Sometimes we make this all sound easy, believe me it is not. I had to learn eye contact early. Walking the yards of some of those big bad prisons mentioned above I always knew Jesus was with me. I do not do this often, but if you have never given to us, a jump start donation will save Don hours of time. Remember it is tax deductible here and a star in your crown in Glory.
WHEN WE ALL COME TOGETHER:
I will take the time to go into detail of inmates reached and blessed by this Ministry. One happened just a while ago. I got a call from a man who met us when he was at The Youth Prison. He was in a gang and was able to spend time with Mark - Mark with his long hair, big smile and guitar. He told me that visiting with Mark who shared some of his own problems made him change direction and that has kept him out of prison and trouble for 15 years.
He is going to Church here and there and still looking but he knows what he is looking for. He also remembered the pizza. I forgot to get his name. We have kept track of several hundred inmates who have been out over 5 years and that shows Prison Ministry is Crime Prevention. We also know several families have gotten burned by their contact. With the numbers we deal with that is a blessing and now it is almost impossible to happen if you follow all the rules. One of which, if you have a Blue form lying around, please return it to us.
Having a rap session with a bunch of inmates and trying to turn it into a Bible study. When dealing with inmates we never try to find out what they did. Most will tell you they came from bad homes, and backgrounds. Abuse is a very common subject but talking only one to one. Drinking or drugs has gotten as high as 70% of inmates into prison. The better inmates are lifers and we try to get them involved as much as we can.
Lifers are stuck with their time and want to pull it as easy as they can. It takes a bunch to get gang members to join us but we do get some. We get a lot in private sessions held by both Yvonne and I. Lack of education is serious. We are stunned by the amount of inmates who have finished school and can not read or write. No Child Left Behind?
If you are interested, check with a local prison and see if they need help in the GED area, especially giving the tests. This was the way I started.
Jesus knows men and women are sent to prison as punishment not for punishment. We have always tried to build every thing we do by HIS direction. We have proven this with some really bad convicts - Jesus can change the worst. Also we know no such thing as Rehabilitation - just regeneration. “HE” helps us. Will you join the God Squad if only through prayer
DO PEN FRIENDS MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
Thought I would take a few minutes for connecting me with the Clarke’s. I appreciate your caring and sharing attitude. Because of this match I have grown closer to God and a higher way of life. The Clarke’s are a wonderful caring couple. They add a quality and quantity in my existence that I have never known before.
I am so happy they have allowed me to be a part of their life. Thanks to all for Someone Cares; because of you I do. Robert Green
I PRECH AND TEACH BUT ALSO LISTEN
There is great joy in preaching in prison. Some inmates make comments that they enjoyed my sermons because they were Bible based and wrapped with worldly things. I have an advantage as I spent tons of time in Satan’s turf. I also make it like a Bible study making them read the Bible. One inmate, a pastor’s son said he had never heard a sermon out of the Old Testament tied into the new until you and Yvonne came here. It is kind of neat when we preach together. I am a story teller with a purpose.
ONE SERMON CHANGED MY LIFE:
My name is Juan and I was an inmate at Soledad many years ago. I was a member of the Mexican Mafia and not a nice person.
During a lockdown Don came to my cell to tell me of my Mother’s death. For a bit I lost it. Don stayed and we chatted for a very long time my heart racked with the stupidly I had made of my life. I could not attend my mother’s funeral.
After a couple of days I’m back to prison stuff. I got a call to come to the Chapel. Don greeted me and asked me inside the Chapel. He said sit. The lights were turned off and on a screen I was able to watch her whole funeral. There is a code in prison if someone does something good for you, you are honor-bound to do the same. It took a sermon a year but Don, Yvonne, a Pen Friend and a Bible study got me to my knees. The sermon was “Something After Heaven.” I could make it and see my mom again.
We can save hours if we get pen names corrected. A must - use two names. If you use grandma change it. Make sure inmate knows.
If you use Susan it is not Sue. Now the following is a mess. We need help getting inmate mail delivered. Below first name is Pen Name second Inmate Name as we read it:Susan Anders/Ken Wyatt.
John Agon/ S Vasquez.
Karen Amme/D Womack.
Annie/ Levon Harris.
Mts Cindi/T Brown.
Anne Franks/ Floyd Gibbs.
Eleanor Gilbert/Sally Gilbert.
Betty Graham/Dale Farley.
Grandma Grand pa/D Jones.
Virginia Johnson/H Sipe.
Ester Kay/Don Barth.
Noella Peter/Philip Titon.
Kathleen North/D Williams.
Nathan Scofield/ Shirley Boone.
Alex Van/Ralph Jones.
Most of this is because the blue form is not returned.
If you write an inmate the envelope to them your name and our address on return, Inmate name, NUMBER and address. Seal your letter inside. Put this in an envelope to us with your real name if you use a Pen Name and real address. God Bless