Quietly Changing Lives
Something miraculous has happened, and I can hardly believe it. Many, many years ago I was previously married and had a son from that marriage. Then the Lord took me into the family of God with Yvonne�s help, and His blessings began in my life. Yvonne had three girls from her previous marriage, and our kids became acquainted. As time went on, I lost track of my son sometime during his adult years. I expended every resource available to try and find him, and have continued looking over these past years, but with no success. I never gave up, but finally realized there was nothing more I could do, and I put it into God�s hands.
Just recently Ronna, Yvonne�s daughter and a part of this Ministry, went to Northern California to visit her father. While on a crowded Bart train, Ronna looked across the aisle from her and there sat my son. The odds of that happening are equal to winning the lottery twenty times in a row. Rejoice in the Lord always!
I want to share more about the miracle that Don mentioned above, which is one of many miracles that have happened in my life.
I had been looking for my step brother for at least a year or two and could find nothing. For my birthday this last September I went to California to see my dad. While I was there my family took me to an A�s baseball game in Oakland, and there were so many people there. After the game was over we walked to the train that would take us back to our car. Now please understand, this train is called Bart and there are several cars that you can get on. We got in one of them, and when we came to the first stop I looked up and saw a man across from me get up to let someone else off the train. I thought to myself, that looks like my step brother, Don Jr., so I kept looking at him. Finally I told my family, �I think that�s my brother, and next time we stop I�m going over there.� So at the next stop I got up, walked over, and as I came up to him he opened his arms! I was so happy to see him. We exchanged phone numbers and talked for a very short time, because I had to get off at the next stop. I knew that God had helped us find each other.
California has a lot of people in it, and God made sure we both got on the same train in the same car at the same time and sat across from each other.
My son was sentenced to twenty years and went to prison. Not only did he go to prison, but it was 1500 miles away. He ran into prison full of hate and misdirection, and then he ran into you both at Avenal.
Somehow you got him going to Church and studying to get a GED, then you got him into a Bible Study. Although too far to visit, over a five year period, we could feel the changes in him. He told us that sharing Jesus should not be hard, because when we do HE is there. He then told us about his Pen Friend, which changed his life forever. He worked and got his sentence reduced. He is free!
May God bless this Ministry for all you do, especially for this family.
We have a weekly study group of thirteen people. After I became a Pen Friend I shared my letters with everyone. I called you (Someone Cares) and told you we would take twenty names. We would like to have thirty more.
Amen and Amen. We matched them all while Ronna was in California being a part of our Miracle. Please pray for Ronna, as she is having shoulder surgery soon, and then followed by knee and hip replacement. She has really made a difference in matching folks. My eyes are not good as they used to be, although they are a bit better after surgery. I have some tools that help me to read, but still, reading the mail is hard.
My name is Karen Silver and I have been participating in your Pen Friend ministry for about five years. I just recently lost my pen friend to cancer. He was granted clemency due to his illness, and was released. He was out for two months and then the Lord took him home. Danny was a great man. We really got to know one another in those five years and I miss him. We had spoken on the phone after he was released and talked about meeting in person, but he went home to the Lord before that could happen. I think your Ministry is such a gift from God. We are not only a comfort and a joy for these inmates, but the other way around as well! I would love to continue being a part in the Pen Friend program. If you could arrange another match for me that would be so appreciated. I would like to be matched up with a woman this time if possible. Again, I thank you for what you do for these people and the love and compassion that God has so gifted you with. May He bless you and keep you all in His arms. Karen Silver
Being a Christian in prison is
very difficult. I have been locked
up for six years and have never
had a letter or visit. We spend
most of the time locked down. If
you don�t have a TV you hope
someone who has one will turn
the sound up. Then I lay on my
bunk and close my eyes and try
to see what they are saying. You
getting me a Pen Friend and
enrolling me in a Bible study did
change my life. I�m not a Christian
yet but I sure am trying.
�Don, I am ashamed, as years ago I signed up to write to two inmates, got the packet, and set it aside for five years. We moved and in unpacking I found the forms. The release date shows they are both out. May we start over again?�
Of course she can. We feel bad when we send someone an inmate packet, and the person never writes to them. And it is worse and we feel terrible if they do not send the names back so we can re-match them with someone else. But we all make mistakes. Better late than never, so don�t be ashamed to �fess up and return your inmate�s packet if you have no intention of writing to them, no matter how much time has passed. Think of that poor soul just waiting for a letter during mail call.
Over the years we have become friends with so many of you. This may seem strange, but our three best friends we have never met, although we are tied together with God�s grace. It is very difficult to keep on keeping on with so many folks scared of what the future holds. With this economy in the mess it�s in and jobs difficult to get, inmates reaching their release dates are scared as they know getting a job is going to be difficult. Many states are releasing inmates early with no job, no home, and no money.
What a gathering we will have when we get to heaven! We spend a lot of time on the Pen Friend Program. One lady writing twenty inmates told me it�s like pulling teeth trying to get other folks to write to an inmate. Might you? And if you already are, would you like the blessing of another?
Just over the hill top there is a mountain. I am curious and would like to find out what other Prison Ministries do? The need in prison is so great for those wanting to do that work. I came across a bunch of old forms we had people filled out when they joined us. We are going to be contacting each one and see if we can get them involved again.
FRIEND TO MANY
Sandra was one great lady who joined this Ministry about twenty years ago. A lot of inmates are short term and it is difficult to match them, because people would just get started writing to and getting to know them, and then they were gone. Sandra must have written to fifty inmates over the years. She became a bit more than a Pen Friend to her inmate friends, helping them with job placement upon release, remedial reading and Bible studies, just to name a few things she helped with. She was a friend to many inmates during her lifetime.
We chatted with Sandra a lot over the years, and the last letter we sent to her was returned with �Deceased� stamped on it. A lot of folks have died over the years, but we usually receive a note or phone call from a family member or close friend. However, in Sandra�s case, we later found out she lived alone and had no family or friends. I sure pray when we get to heaven we will be able to look her up.
These past few weeks have been pretty stressful - I�ve had midterms all this last week and am happy to say I�ve been doing well academically. In the meantime, our Ministry continues to grow more and more. We have multiple people that are writing four and five inmates, and some are writing even more. But the one problem we keep running into is the alias �pen name.� IF YOU ARE WRITING WITH AN ALIAS PEN NAME, please make sure that it is a first and last name and that it�s the name the inmate uses to write to you, and that they address their envelope to you using that full first and last name. Also, it is extremely important to let us know both your real name and your pen name.
Time is going fast for me while trying to juggle school work and our Ministry. I have a busy schedule with only two semesters left in the automotive program. I have also been looking for a house to settle into. I�ve been renting my current home for the past three years and I�m hoping I can find something I am interested in buying. Like usual, we are constantly making efforts to make our Ministry larger and have been arranging a couple of different spots in magazines, as well as working on finding a radio show to jump onto, even if it is for a short bit of time. If you know of a radio station that may be interested in hearing about us, please don�t hesitate to pass along their information to us. God Bless and thank you all.
It is very difficult getting folks from the outside to write to those inside prison. Please ask your Pastor to help you recruit from those in your church. I am excited, as after years of trying, we do not hear anymore that �we don�t want those kinds of people in our church.� Over the last six months six pastors have helped us get almost 100 Pen Friends. AMEN!
ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE
Bob is a fireman. He read about our Ministry and thought it would be good for him and his family to write as a group. He told his fellow fireman and three of them and their families got involved. If we could get more groups involved, that would be great.
If anyone has some spare stamps, we sure can use them. We also need a laptop computer for Ronna.
Someone has made a special donation, making it possible for us to finally put together a DVD of the video footage we have taken over the years from the inside of prison. Also, I still hope to get a book finished about what God did when He changed my life after bringing Yvonne into it. Soon ...
A WARNING: A lot of older folks are scared about the near future. We pray that all of us will hold each other up in prayer. The warning is that there are a massive number of insurance scams at this time. Do NOT give out personal information over the phone, unless you can positively check out the company. Satan will use every way he can to hurt us.