Quietly Changing Lives
Having knee replacement surgery at my age was a bit scary. With a great doctor, a great surgeon, and a lot of prayers (thanks) all is well. I�m hoping the weather holds so I can play a little golf soon.
One happy result of my time in the hospital was that I spent a whole lot of time witnessing to those around me, including hospital staff, and recruited three pen friends!
WHAT SAYS THE BIBLE TO ME
Looking at the state of the nation and the pastors involved in political things, we pray that we will hear the trumpet sound of Jesus� return very soon. I do believe in separation of Church and state so I will remain silent, but I can say that I am ashamed of the entire goings on.
Remember that a doctrine of your church is not being told who to vote for, but do vote.
IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL
Reading the mail from so many it is really easy to see that many churches need to revamp their thinking. I am both sad and glad to see so many home churches springing up. The pressure on pastors to build a flock and care for the sheep is difficult. Prayer meetings, camp meetings, Temperance, community service - all have stopped in so many areas across the nation.
So many people are asking, What can I do? Like the jailer asked Paul and Silas, �What must I do to be saved?� Believe and receive is so simple.
While I was in the hospital a nurse asked me, Is it not hard being a man of God? I honestly believe it is hard not being one. I know and claim all the promises of the Bible. I share quiet time with the Lord and give Him my problems. Everyone I meet I say God Bless to! One young man said �I did not sneeze.� That opened up a big door to witness.
I�m happy today, as Jesus took my troubles away. It is hard to deal with all the grief in prisons, and the best we can offer to the many who are in prison is YOU, which is a lot.
However, for some, it is easier to say, �I cannot do that,� before they even try. The shame is you never know how hard or easy something is going to be unless you go out there and give it a try. You never know what you could have accomplished if only you had tried harder.
Pen & Ink
It�s rather wonderful, I think,
When friends are made
of pen and ink.
A piece of paper,
blue or white,
And someone decides
they will write.
To someone they
have never seen,
Who lives where they
have never been.
Your pen becomes
a magic wand.
Two strangers start
Not strangers long, maybe soon good friends,
Just note how
their letter ends.
How pleasant their exchange of views,
Their comments on important news.
Two friends although
far apart, maybe.
Can nourish to
each others minds
With Godly thoughts
in letters kind,
When friends are made
of pen an ink.
(Thanks, Dick and Dee)
I would like to say or explain that children, women, and men who are in prison for the most part have all been abused. It might be physical, mental, or emotional; there are several different types of abuse. So when we get a letter that is on the crude side or a little rough, Don or I try to deal with it.
Now that the Pen Friend Program is growing so fast, we are in need of some folks who are willing to write to this type of person. If possible, maybe some of you can reach out to people you know that would be willing to meet this type of a challenge, or maybe your pastor could put it in your church bulletin.
It is a rough road at first, but it is wonderful to see how God really does change a person when that person knows someone really cares. It is an awesome experience and all glory goes to God. Great things He can do, He just needs us to be willing to be His tools and be used by Him.
Years ago at San Quentin we were �sentenced� to ministering in C-section, which was a test by Chaplain Howard. C-section was five tiers high with 50 cells to a tier, and housed the worst of those in prison. But we passed the test, visiting inmates by going from cell to cell twice a week, leading many a man to the water (baptism). That was almost 30 years ago, and we still hear from many of those prisoners � a few of them are still in prison, but a lot are out.
Our job leads them to Jesus. We do the seed planting, but Jesus is the only one who can set the captive free.
My name is Zach and I became involved with your Ministry kind of backwards. I was at Folsom Prison and thrown in the hole for stabbing another inmate. I was then put in shackles and shipped to San Quentin.
Again in the hole I was really in trouble as the guy I stabbed was a gang king pin. The only thing I had was a bunk and nothing else. A guy in a cell next to me gave me a book called Steps to Christ. I chucked it, but with nothing to do I read it. I was twenty-three years old with a sentence of 30 years to serve, so I had nothing to lose.
Then Don, you came to my cell and things really changed. You and Yvonne�s visits, a Pen Friend, several Bible studies, and bingo - a new man was born again. Thank you, Jesus.
With a lot of hard work I changed and the prison system rewarded me for that - I got out two years ago. I was looking on the web and found you again.
I want to tell everyone these folks are the real deal - 25 or more years, five and six days a week in or about prisons and inmates. Then they worked to pay their bills to do all that. If nothing else, pray for them as Jesus is their reason.
A Wonderful Thing
The blessing I received from
the Pen Friend Program is
massive. I have been blessed in
so many ways by my friends.
Never thought I would be so
blessed when I joined; not only
Pen Friends but the nicest folks
in the world. Someone out there
who really cares about me, all of
you are so special to me. There
is no program anywhere in the
prison system like yours. To the
McClures, a lot of us prayed big
time after the murder of your
youngest daughter. I joined a
program, got friends and family
and true friends who really care.
God Loves Even Me!
My name is John. Really not much to tell, but I wanted to share. I am in prison for a long time - �three strikes� here in California. I grew up in Los Angles mostly on the streets. Have been gang connected since Someone Cares. I made up my mind that I was going to make it. I tried and finally made myGED, thanks tomy Pen Friend.
Getting that friend was a chore. I wrote several dozen places, got hit up for money or no answer. Finally I got your application. Reading the controls I almost chucked it but thank God I sent it in. Like so many other things I had tried, I forgot it. I came back from yard and on my bunk was a letter. The letter was from a family - mom, dad and two kids all wrote. They also wrote like they were really interested in me.
After several months they sent a Bible and a Bible study. This led me to finally finish my GED. I cut lose from all my prison ties and joined the Christian brothers. By the by, I�m white and my new friends are black. I now know what I missed in life and am so blessed to have Someone Care. I must have hooked 50 guys up with you all and I�m sure they will be as blessed as I am. Thank God in these troubled time, in this terrible prison system Paper Sunshine lit my cell and warmed my cold heart.
God Bless all who are a part of this Ministry.
I am ashamed to say I asked for a couple of names and got them but never wrote. I also never returned the information which I am doing know. May I try again with maybe a woman?
(The answer of course is Yes. I took the time to write the two pen friends myself, then rematched them with other inmates, and the blessings are many. We re-matched Mary with a grandma who is doing Bible studies with her and who led Mary back to Jesus and back to the Church.)
LETTER FROM A PEN FRIEND
Don, you wrote on my newsletter
had you done something
wrong? Because I had not
written to my pen (inmate)
friends in such a long time. You
dear people did nothing wrong
at all. I have been neglecting my
commitment to write and I�m
totally at fault. Thankfully God is
patient with our failures and
mistakes - sorry about that.
Enclosed are letters to my
friends. Bless you guys.
NOT AS YOU WERE, NOT AS YOU ARE, BUT AS YOU CAN BE THROUGH JESUS
When we match an inmate we really know very little about them. Some put on a good front, some lie, some are innocent, and some are rotten. Once in awhile a bad letter gets through. Dropping these bad inmates is ok, but please ask for another inmate!
WALK THE WALK
Being a Christian in prison is difficult. Due to all the cut-backs so many programs have been cut or do not exist. No one, including us, likes crime. �Do the crime, do the time� is what we believe in. But not attempting to change those coming out of prison is a shame.
We have gotten big enough that record keeping is done by the free folks involved. We are proud that many men, women, boys and girls are getting released with at least a seed planted.
Parents and grand-parents, we caution you to check into your kids� activity on the computer, who they run with and how they talk. Tough love worked once, and it is going to take that again. We ask a lot and ask it often but we do so knowing that results are good. Sure, we fail sometimes, but we are helping the Lord find the lost sheep, and we often see the lion lay down with the lamb. Please join us somehow.
WE DO NOT WANT THAT KIND IN OUR CHURCH
It is difficult to hear that. Often we have inmates wanting to get baptized and cannot get pastors into prison to do it. I remember years ago when I was asked to give my testimony I told it as it was, and folks cringed in horror.
That�s what is so neat about what God does for us - He changes the worst of the worst and makes us like sheep in white clothing.
VOICE OF PROPHECY
We will be ending the year with a bang with three programs on VOP radio or online at VOP.com. If you miss the live broadcast you can go to VOP.com and pull up all the programs we have ever done.
God Bless them as in these tough times this is a big shot in the arm. It brings in folks to write inmates and even a bit of funding through donations.
Don & Yvonne