Quietly Changing Lives
We knew all the signs were there for us to move away from Arizona -- prison over-crowding, increased requests for Bible studies and Pen Friends. Crime going up, the economy going down. Home not selling. Our family wanting to help with the Ministry big time. And, first things first, Yvonne’s health. Two doctors said that moving back to Indiana would be okay as long as she stayed inside when it gets really cold.
So, we had to sell and buy a home. I got a “For Sale” sign made and almost as soon as I put it up we sold our mobile home to a cash buyer. Yvonne got on the computer, and not only did we find a home in Indiana, but one we really could afford to buy, which we did. We then got a real deal with a mover and started packing.
MOVING A MINISTRY
Next, we needed to get our Bulk Rate Permit in Indiana again, but when I called I found out they had forgotten to cancel it when we moved! Amen.
Now all of you Pen Friend (Paper Sunshine) Experts are moving also. The new address, which you will need to use for your return address when writing to your inmate, is: Box 11245, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46556. (Our new address and phone number are in the heading of this newsletter.)
We will be driving to Indiana somewhere around the 20th of April. We’ll be playing catch up again, and there will be about a weeks delay in mail.
OUR STAY IN PAYSON, AZ
We say goodbye to a neat Church, a lot of friends, and a beautiful place to live. We learned a lot about each other’s health problems and were able to deal with them very well, especially Yvonne.
When asked if we are tired, my answer is “yes” until I think of one more person who can be lead to Christ, in or out of prison. Also, we are not so tired that we cannot make “one” more move. For Yvonne, a Pastor’s daughter, this will be her 59th move. For Yvonne and me together, it’s our 12th, and each of the 12 moves has been a success and accomplishment for Jesus. Each one left behind a lot of friends, but brought many new friends.
God has blessed us while here, and the sadness of leaving will be replaced by the joy of rejoining our family and serving God in an old way, but with many improvements.
This June I will be 77 years old and Yvonne will be 70. Yes, we’re a bit tired, but we believe Jesus when he said “Go Forth.” We believe this move will lead to our last move to be with Jesus when HE returns. We look forward to walking the Streets of Gold and meeting all of you under the “Tree Of Life” and skating on the Sea of Glass.
HIS NAME IS BOBBY WELLS
Down on his luck as a general contractor and hit hard by the economy, Satan latched onto him, but God led him to us. Bobby found out what the Lord, through an active church, can do to help when a person is down. Bobby rebuilt our mobile home and himself at the same time. He started attending church, and in my last sermon here I asked the Church to take him in, and they did.
Have you got an extra prayer for him? He needs it. He and the folks that bought our home are making trips to Home Depot as they prepare to add on. May God bless it and them. The folks that bought our home are neat Christians. Send them a card of welcome, and tell them you are friends of ours: The Cunningham’s, 16 North Star Vale, Sp. 84, Star Valley, AZ 85541.
Well, here we go again. It is really wonderful when God walks with you and He talks with you, and guides you where to go, and lets you know that you are going in the right direction that He wants you to.
It is very comfortable to follow knowing that God is always with you. God is so good to bless us as we go on this journey. Bobby has been a real joy to take to church with us—he really likes the children’s stories and enjoys the children. It is victories along the way like this that keep us all going.
Without our Paper Sunshine experts and some of the over-whelming experiences they have had (which we will try to share with you as time goes on), it makes us all want to work more for the Lord so He may come soon.
Any extra change we find around here will be greatly appreciated for the cost of our move. Thanks to all, and may God Bless you as you spread the Good News.
NOTES FROM OUR PEN FRIENDS (YOU)
Sorry you have to get back to cold country, but God’s warmth will go with you. I believe our time here is short and we and many inmates will be in Heaven together.
I received your latest newsletter and enjoy your Ministry enough to work with you. My wife is on disability but works with a computer. I have many questions, but we really want to help Kevin. We’ve been with you all a long time and like the idea of becoming a part of the whole thing. I also like the idea of Christians and churches working together. I’ll contact you when you get to Indiana.
Don, I’m your age and retired 12 years ago and got fat and bored. I sure would like to be a part of this new adventure. Must say I thought at one time you guys moving so much was insecurity, but sure have learned better.
Thanks for being there. We took your advice about an inmate asking for money and called the Chaplain and found out the truth. We sure advise all to contact Don or Yvonne and get the straight scoop. Our Church will help in any way getting a Charter going.
We have been supporting this Ministry for many years and will continue to do so. This check is a little bigger and one time. With postage going up and postage hours going down you will need it. Send me one more Pen Friend.
Don and Yvonne, my ladies group and husbands think that the Pen Friend Program is neat and would like 50 names. Our Pastor kept saying, what are we doing for Jesus? But he never offers a suggestion. We’ll get you an invite here when you are moved.
THE TWO CARE PROGRAM
A letter received by an inmate is neat, and a visit is even better, but for most that never happens.
The Two Care Program is a monthly visitation program to an inmate in a prison near you. Men visit men and women visit women; couples visit both. We were part of a program like this years ago, and what a real blessing it is.
Rules for volunteers have changed and in most states you can hold a Bible Study but cannot visit inmates one to one. Visits are usually in a crowded room, sometimes in a picnic area. If visiting a hard core inmate, there is a glass partition between you and them and you must talk on a phone.
My first prison visit was with a black inmate who knew I was white. The first few minutes were a little tense, but it worked out well and we became good friends. When trust was built up he was able to unload a lot of garbage he had been carrying around for years. (This process takes time and patience.) He is a solid Christian today, and is still a friend.
Anyone interested in this program, please let us know.
SOMEONE CARES CHARTER GROUPS
We are going to put into every State in the Nation a Someone Cares Group. We plan to contact the prisons in each area, which is a very big job. The Chaplains will inform their inmates as soon as a group is active in their area.
How this will work is the Group will receive from the prison requests for Pen Friend (Paper Sunshine) applications for the inmates, which the Group will then send. Next, the Group will find folks (with our help) to write these inmates. The Group will become the clearing house for all mail in their area. They will read inmate mail and forward it to the Pen Friends.
Our newsletter will help get folks to write. Prayerfully we will make a nationwide appeal via the Voice of Prophecy radio program, and Christian magazines and other radio broadcasts. When it gets cold in Indiana we will visit our Charter Groups in warm areas! (Have wife, have Bible, will travel!)
This is a tested Ministry that really works and is badly needed. Jesus said, “I was in prison and you visited me not!” Also He said to remember the prisoners as if chained with them! He stopped dying on the cross to save a convict and assured him of Heaven.
Over the years Yvonne and I have tried so hard to get Ministries to work together, but without much luck. It’s vitally important for Churches and people of like-mind to labor together in doing the Lord’s work.
The Pen Friend Program started because one man had never received a letter in 17 years. The program has done a whole lot of good in changing the lives of men and women, boys and girls locked up in massive, over-crowded facilities.
Thank you for laboring together with us in this Ministry.
PEN FRIEND Q&A;
Question: My pen friend is expecting to get paroled soon, and he asked me to go online to try and find him a place to live. I’m not sure what to do. What helps are there for prisoners who are released?
Answer: An inmate is assigned a counselor in prison and most prisons have re-entry programs. They also are assigned a parole officer when released. Most states provide little help once inmates are released, and that is why most return to prison. However, some inmates simply become lazy. In prison they are told what to do and when to do it, so they lose initiative and the drive to get ahead. If they have been in prison for many years, the habits they have learned are hard to break.
Here are some steps you can take and suggestions to offer. First of all, even though your friend “expects” to be paroled, this could be wishful thinking, as most have been in long enough to know when they will be paroled. Suggest that your friend speak with the prison Chaplain, who should have re-entry information. (What a great opportunity to get him to church if he isn’t already going!)
If time is of the essence, you can call the prison and ask to speak to his counselor to find out what re-entry information or programs they have in place. Also, most prisons have a Salvation Army representative, so suggest that your friend speak with them for assistance.
If an inmate knows their parole is coming up, they should begin seeking all the helps they can, up to six months in advance, to make plans for returning to the outside.
In the meantime, if release is not in the very near future, encourage your pen friend to make the most use of their time through any educational programs offered. If your friend has not finished high school, he should use this time to get a GED.
Do You Have Questions? Call, write or email your questions to us, and we will try and answer as many as we can in future Newsletters.
Also, if you notice any errors or have an issue with anything we have written, we want to know.
CORRECT A FEW BAD HABITS, PLEASE
Addressing Envelopes. All pen friends will need to use our new address, so we’re going over these important address and name guidelines again, because not everyone is getting it.Your Return Address to the Inmate:
Your Pen or Real Full Name
(FULL NAMES ONLY—First & Last!)
FT. WAYNE, IN 46556
Your Envelope Sent to Someone Cares, Return Address:
Your REAL FULL NAME
Your complete address
City, St. & Zip Code
Using Full Names. We’ve received 30 letters from inmates addressed only to “Mary.” Mary, who? If you haven’t received a letter from your pen friend lately, write to them again and make sure they know to write your FULL NAME on their envelope to you.
Help Us Keep Costs Down. A lot of inmates make things and send them to their pen friend. Or, they want to send all the stuff they’ve gathered that others have given them. We must then pay the postage to forward these items to you.
Please tell your friend you do not need Chapel tracts, or other items you feel are unnecessary and that cost too much to mail. If you are unsure of anything, please give us a call (you may even call collect). It would be nice to talk with each of you.
And may God Bless,
Don & Yvonne