Quietly Changing Lives
We are amazed at some of the things that have happened lately. An appeal we made for writers to inmates brought an amazing response. We have several small churchs where everyone is going to write. We also received a call from several pastors who are recommending folks join the Pen Friend Program.
Two ladies -both 100 years old - got several friends to take over writing letters as their eye sight is getting bad. Mine also. My driving days are over but Jake and Ronna will get us were we need to go. An area I have not covered is VOP Bible studies for inmates. When the inmates finish the study they are given a form to fill out. These are sent to us and it is a joy to read their comments. We will share some later in this newsletter.
The Pen friend program started when an inmate at San Quentin told Yvonne he had not gotten mail for 20 years. Some inmates write to themselves to hear there name at mail call. It works like this; the inmates send us a request for a pen friend. We send them a form to fill out that explains this is a Christian program, not a dating service. They send it back and it goes to the bottom of a pile. When free folks get the call to write, their name goes at the bottom of another pile. When their names get to the top of each pile, a match is made. We send the inmate’s letter and forms to the free person. The free person writes a letter and puts it in an envelope addressed to the inmate with their name and our address going forward. They seal their letter and put it in another envelope addressed to us.
The only address they ever see is ours. We try to read the inmate’s letters to the free person but sometimes we get swamped and cannot read them all. The program is to establish a friendship and that does take time. Some folks, in their first letter, try to talk about the Bible but you need to establish a friendship first. Call us if you are not sure. You may write more than one inmate. You may ask your pastor to put our newsletter on a bulletin board. This is a great ministry program for Sunday and Sabbath school classes. Another way to learn about us is by going to our web Page www.SomeoneCares.org and reading the archived newsletters. They go way back. There is no “ I “ in Jesus just “U” and Us”
Read what Jesus says in Mathew 25 verse 35. We must take the gospel seriously and it will increase our capacity to love. A better understanding of the Gospel will make it easier to share God’s word when we see people as God does. Looking at God’s name we see Go Do. We learn generosity without calculation is HIS way. His wish is all those people will be HIS. Paul and Silas held a service in prison, which they had broken into. Being Romans they should not have been imprisoned after being beaten and put into chains with their feet into stocks. They did not slow down praising God. Their actions caused quite a commotion and all the cell doors were opened but not one prisoner escaped as they had received a different kind of freedom. To be free in Jesus is to be free indeed. Will you help someone find a direction unknown to them? Will you from the comfort and safety of your home show them the way to glory? We will be here to help. You need not preach, just share the love of Jesus by showing friendship. I told a story awhile back that I would like to repeat. While I was locked up on a juvenile facility a man came into prison to help. He met me on the yard in a reform school. He was friendly and we chatted a while and he promised to come back He never came back. That happens too often.
Trying to make a point I offer the following story. Two Pastors were on a trip driving long hours. They got into an argument about what color Jesus is. A truck ran over their car killing both people. As promised by Jesus the dead in Christ will rise. They arrived in heaven and waited to stand before Jesus. Soon a bright light appeared, the clouds parted and a voice came through saying “Buenos noches.”
We now live in a world where color or race is a problem. In prison race is a big problem. I held a meeting with a lot of black gang members and we received many inmate applications. One question we ask is race to help us try to match them with a free person. In one week we had answers of black, colored, negro, African American and “does it matter.” We also have matched inmates with a free person of a different race. Once in a while the free person did not write or return the inmate’s information so we got the inmate another Pen Friend. After talking to many of you, we will do and help in any way we can to make you feel comfortable with your Pen Friend, regardless of their race or yours.
We are a non-profit Ministry. Your donations are tax deductible here and we pray written in your book in Heaven. We have never been paid by any state or prisons where we work. I listen to and then change the channel when ministries that say you will get all sorts of things if you support them. Change the channel! For our church and others, we helped build the Prison Ministry Association of North American to protect your donations. It has been Widows and Widowers Mite money that has helped us for almost 40 years. Most of you know I am near 83 and Yvonne 75. Until last year we preached in churches and were on radio and TV. This paid for everything we do. Special donations gave us a honeymoon and vacation we never had before. My eyes are bad so I no longer drive. So now Ronna and Jake help us get around. Yvonne still has to use a cane. The publications where we have placed ads help us a lot. For the first time we are asking for a few large one time donations. Pray for our long-time donors. Things we do need are two lap top computers. Used ones will be fine. We also need two used cars - a 4 wheel drive one for Ronna and the other for Jake’s dad Mike who is getting out of Prison after 20 years. We use a lot of postage so any loose stamps are appreciated. Cassettes and CDs are used in prisons. Mainly we need you! We ask you to pray for The Printing Press who designs and prints our newsletters. If it is Christian, we need it! You may call us and ask for prayers. We would love to pray with you or for those you think it would help. This is a story I tell often. Many years ago at a church in Templeton we had a great program with a large crowd. After we finished and were helping clean up, a little frail Mexican came to me. She said you made my heart happy. My son is in prison. Please take this and let it help lead men to Christ. She handed me a cloth with change in it. I thanked her and put it in my pocket. When we got home, I opened it and it held a fortune of 87 cents. The next day at Soledad, I preached a million dollar sermon and had the largest crowd ever. The alter call was massive. We still hear from 12 of the released inmates. Amen!
From Oklahoma: When I started these lessons I was very surprised by what my thinking became. I am on Death row but now it does not bother me as I know I’m going to a better place when Jesus returns.
From Kentucky: I must admit the only reason I took them was I had nothing to do. I live in a cell and get out once a week for a shower and have no friends. Getting a purpose in my life is a treat. I now have learned that prayers are answered.
From Texas: I got involved in religion through Someone Cares. Being an inmate in Texas is not good. No one cared and I was near ending my life. I got a Pen Friend I got my life out of the toilet and I finally have a reason to live. I’m serving a double life sentence. Another inmate got me started. I ended up becoming a human being again. Seven of us now are taking another course and meeting on the yard to study.
From Florida: I was a sex offender - not a good thing in Ohio or anywhere. When I learned I could again be a real person and be forgiven it changed my life. I am now studying with a couple of other inmates. The chaplain here is not good and does little for us.
You truly will never know
what a letter can mean until you
have been where I am or seen
what I’ve seen. I’m confined in a
world behind 4 walls, where no
one can see me and I receive no
calls. Often I sleep; awakened –
alarmed thinking my family,
loved ones or friends may be
harmed. I quickly thank my God
for giving me love or sense of
peace - Thank God again!- It’s
just a dream- as I come to my
senses I look out my “window”
and still see the fences! I make
it, somehow, throughout the
day; Quiet prayer to be heardawaiting
mail call; But “none for
me”, they say. When nobody
writes, times seem really hard;
Not a letter, a note,or even a
card. Looking for a little word or
two to say, “Everything’s ok”. A
few small words to ease my
mind, kind words, well wishes –
just knowing your there –
Anything to show that you care!
Yet I still fall to my knees night
and day, praying to my God that
you will remember me some
day. You will never know what a
letter can mean, until you’ve
been where I’ve been or seen
what I’ve seen.
A friend once asked where I would be if I had not met Yvonne and she had not made the effort to lead me to Christ. Where would I be? Either in prison or dead. I lived in the fast track of high society. I kept a fast pace on drugs and alcohol. My friends were the cream of the fast track around the world. Money and cars - it was easy. Then Jesus took me in and all the things in my life of ease became really hard. Being a Christian was really hard. Although well dressed and mannered, I was one of those people who tried so hard to fit into this new world. Again Jesus stepped in. Only months after becoming a Christian I was teaching the Bible as I learned it. I spent one year in the Book of Revelation. Doors kept being opened. Both Yvonne and I became full time chaplains in very large prison, unpaid by any church or state. Ask in His name and you will receive. The first sermon I preached was off a cassette by Walter Pearson. I was a speed reader and learned fast. I wish we had kept better records but with the help of Voice Of Prophecy and 3 ABN and Faith For Today we have about a million inmates who have completed Bible studies. We have preached in many churches as the temporary pastor. If you believe you receive. I was drinking, smoking and doing drugs a lot. In a pastor’s study in Mt. View California I went down on my knees, gave myself to Jesus and have never had moments of withdrawal. I only have a 7th grade education. Yes - I dropped out of grammar school. With the Lord leading and my wife directing me, we have shared and won a battle with those many who say are those kinds of people. I did have a problem and became a diabetic but God again stepped in. Several months ago my blood sugar was at 1134. I was in the hospital for 9 days but no stroke or coma and now no signs of the diabetes. Jesus still needs us. I was on a catheter and all kinds of machines but tore them off and tried to escape. It took 4 security guards to get me back in bed. No signs of any of this. Amen! We have done all this and plan to keep at it. It takes Jesus and YOU and still does. These are tough times but when the going get tough the tough get going. Join us and help support us. Please pray with and for us and the inmates we serve. Jesus is in control.
Happy New Year