Quietly Changing Lives
THAT TIME IS COMING
It’s a bit closer to Jesus’ return, the Holidays, and a New Year. A time of clearing up loose ends.If You Want to Send Your Inmate Something
At this time of year it’s common for inmates to ask for money. If you cannot give, just tell them. Some pen friends want to send packages to the inmate without finding out the Prison’s restrictions, and usually those packages are returned. We are then stuck with the cost of returning your packages to you.
While we understand that you may want to send a personal gift, unfortunately most items are not allowed. If you want to bless your inmate with something they can really use, send money to their prison account. But first, please call or e-mail us, or check directly with the Prison before sending anything. Here are some guidelines to follow:What NOT To Do:
Don’t mail anything other than letters unless you check with us or the prison first. We have all heard of saws going into prison via cakes, but cakes or any other kind of food are not allowed. Do not ever send cash.What to DO:
Christmas cards are great, and family pictures are nice if you know your friend pretty well. If you want to put money in the inmate’s account, sending a money order is best (and often required), but you must follow the prison’s instructions, and sometimes this requires a specific form that must accompany the money order. Remember that each prison’s rules may differ.
PRAISE GOD UPDATES
Voice of Prophecy Radio Program.
With the economy the way it is, VOP had to cut half of their stations, so we were concerned that their program featuring Someone Cares last month would not result in the kind of responses we had hoped for. Thanks to God, we were quite surprised that the responses received ended up being better than ever before!
We then sent out 100 audio CDs of the program to 100 individuals who played the program in groups.
Since the radio program aired around the world, for the first time we have pen friends from these countries: Africa, Trinidad, Switzerland and Sweden.Welcome to Someone Cares!
The spectacular response from the VOP broadcast ensures that we will end this year in “the black.” We serve an amazing God!
MORE UPDATES Help Is On The Way.
In recent newsletters we have asked for prayers and assistance for getting our daughter, Ronna, here to Arizona to help us in this Ministry. Unfortunately, Ronna has experienced some very serious health issues that will delay the move. While we are certain she will be joining us here, it won’t be in the immediate future.
Still, God is faithful to provide, and He has recently sent us some local volunteers who are already beginning to lighten our load.Friends in Need.
Our friends who were ripped off by a contractor, an attorney and a judge (mentioned in the September issue of our Newsletter) now have their own attorney and go to court on November 7th. PRAY FOR THEM, PLEASE.
CHRISTMAS ON DEATH ROW—JUST ANOTHER DAY?
Those of you who have been with us for a long time may know of Don Hawkins. He is a man who came from a terrible background, did many very bad things and was involved with gangs, guns, and murder. Yet he died a happy man knowing he would soon see Jesus, as he believed his sins were forgiven (although they were not forgotten by many).
His conversion to Christ not only changed him, but changed a whole prison. Many other inmates, and a couple of guards, will see Jesus because of his change. The following was written by Don from prison:“Christmas, like freedom, is largely a state of mind for inmates. Conditions, due to a shortage of staff, often mean no showers and cold food. Death Row inmates commonly are locked in 23 hours a day, and this can wear on a person. Trips to the yard (outside) are important, but even with the cold, it is still outside. Death Row inmates are allowed out four or five at a time. The walls are 18 feet high and the mesh wire so thick you cannot see the sun. Sometimes we get real turkey—a real treat. Little thought of gifts are on tap, but family is what brings tears. Much of what we go through is a matter of perception.”
Don adopted Yvonne and me as “Mom and Dad”, which became an honor much later. In another letter he wrote: “Would you please hold this Death Warrant for me in case I lose my appeal? Pray I do not. (He did). It is saddening to be left alone in your greatest time of need. If I’m going to die at least I want to enjoy loving the two of you my last few years (almost eighteen). You are the most important people ever to enter my life. Please do not let me stand here on the pit of hell alone. I have a lot to share and learn and need you to be blessed by my love.”
We certainly were blessed by knowing him. Don was one of the hardest core inmates we ever met, but this lion became a Lamb of God. As the needle was inserted to kill him, a smile on his face and a prayer on his lips said it all. With a wink and a final smile, he closed his eyes in death.
While Don was on Death Row, he told the following story to a reporter:Two men occupied the same hospital room, one a paralytic and one with a terrible lung disease. Each day when the man with lung problems could sit up, he would gaze out the window and describe what he saw to his roommate, whose bed was far from the window. Children running in the park, a father walking with a child, a bluebird singing in a tree, a parade passing by. As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the paralyzed man would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scenes. These descriptions gave him a sense of hope.
One day the man with the lung disease died peacefully in his sleep. When the time was right, the paralyzed man asked if he could be moved next to the window. Once he was situated, the nurse sat him up so he could look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall.
The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate to describe such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.”
Don said freedom, like the holidays, was a state of mind. It was how you think, how you dream, how you remember. Mainly, how you perceive things—that’s Christmas on Death Row. Those of us who know God’s Word can smile within as we cry without. Don was a big man with a big heart; he loved Jesus and shared HIM.
Won’t you share Him, too? Our prayer is that if you aren’t doing so already, you would give the gift of your friendship through our Pen Friend Program and “Paper Sunshine.” I know we’ve often quoted this scripture, but it bears repeating:“Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.” Hebrews 13:3 (KJV)
Just to let you know how important any word from the outside world is, like “Paper Sunshine”, below is a copy of a letter that Don received from an inmate when we first started this Ministry:Oct. 10, 1980. Hi Don, What’s happening? I do hope and trust that you and Yvonne are well and in the highest of spirits, happy enjoying peace of mind. Say Don, I’m high, not that kind of high, I mean a natural high. I say high because I believe I’ve met two beautiful people in Yvonne and yourself. It’s my belief that you and your wife are very sincere in words and deeds and these days that’s a very unique virtue.
Don, I’ve learned that over the years most people search all their lives looking for that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and most never find it.…Everyone has bad experiences in life, but the only way to correct that mistake or mistakes is to try one more time, and I believe beyond any doubt that I will succeed in finding success and happiness, because a winner never quits and a quitter never wins.
This is the first time I’ve received a visit in prison. Hey, I cannot explain how it felt the two times they’ve called my name. Hey, Foster you have a visit! Everyone looks around because this is unusual. The first visit you were truly an inspiration, then you bring your wife to meet me, that really made me feel good. This will be a lasting experience, because I’ve met two people that are for real in every sense of the word. I look forward to our next visit.Take Care, Pete.”
Between letters and visits, it was not difficult for me to be come involved in Prison Ministry, and I can truly say that once it gets in your blood you cannot walk away from it. Think about what you are doing to hasten Christ’s return.
TWO-CARE PROGRAM Visiting Inmates.
This is a program that seems to have started on its own. We believe this is a test question (Is this a program we should move forward on?), and the answer scares us a bit, because it means expanding our services.
We have folks from all over writing inmates all over. As you can imagine, all inmates would like a visit. Case in point—several months ago we had a couple in Florida writing an inmate in California. He got joy out of receiving letters, but was still a lonely man. There are several folks we knew of who lived near his prison and we got them to visit. What a blessing for that lonely inmate!
Now this opens a door to really expand Someone Cares, which is exciting, but as you know from reading previous newsletters we have been spread a bit thin on manpower. However, if it’s God’s will, then this new program will grow and He will provide the means.
If you are interested in visiting someone’s pen friend in a prison facility near you, please let us know.
NON PROFIT TAX-EXEMPTION
Although it looks as though we will end the year in the black (a miracle in this economy), if you have never donated or have not done so in a while, a “mite” is always helpful. Your donations are always tax exempt.
LOST, BUT NOT FOUND
Pen Friend Guidelines and Reminders
Once again we must remind our Pen Friends that we have a stack of letters that need a home. Most of them are because the Blue Form was not returned. Here are some reminders about writing:
Blue Forms: The Blue Form is what you, the Pen Friend, fill out, and it’s important that you return it to us as quickly as possible.
Pen Names: If you want to use a Pen Name, please create a full name, first and last, then double check to make sure your pen friend addresses their letters to you using the full name.
Also, we have discovered that several of you are using more than one Pen Name--please DO NOT use more than one, as this greatly complicates things. We appreciate your understanding.
Addressing Envelopes: On all mail to us put your real name and return address. Enclosed should be your envelope addressed to the Pen Friend, with the return address being your real or Pen Name and our address. Tell the inmate when they write you that “Someone Cares” should not appear anywhere on their envelope, just your name (real or pen) and our address, just as you’ve written it in the return address of your envelope and letter to them.
Once again, use your FULL NAME. Never should you use your first name only.Your Letter to the Inmate: We do not read your letters written to the inmate, so please do seal them.
If Your Inmate is Released: Many inmates may be released early in several states, and you may continue writing your pen friend through our Ministry after their release.
Your Gift to Us: Take one more inmate to write if at all possible. The stack of request forms from inmates who are waiting for a pen friend continues to grow.