Quietly Changing Lives
I did and so have you. I have been so blessed by all that has happened to us, and God listened? We have been so blessed to be able to talk to Jesus anytime we need. It took me awhile to learn three answers: “yes,” “no” and “not now.” Each of you receives our prayers for all you do for us. A pastor friend asked us when I am going to retire now that I am 83. We have a whole lot of the radio shows we have done with Voice Of Prophecy and we would love to share them with you. We have big plans for the future and are excited about them all. I would love to have someone in every state have a Care Group to handle the mailing for that state. The pay is not very good but the reward is out of this world! Get others to do what we have done for inmates. Now is the time.
One of the first things you learn when working in prison is that you never make a promise you cannot keep! They have so little, yet when you say to them you are getting a pen Friend for them, that is one of the best things you could do for them. They are excited, so please keep us posted as to what you are doing, so we do not let these inmates down. They have learned to trust us, so commitment and following through is very special to all concerned. Be faithful in what you say you will do. God Bless.
Inmates call it Paper Sunshine - the only sun that reaches them. Hearing your name called for mail is the only joy many get. Often inmates write themselves. Before we go on, many can not get paper, pen, pencil or a stamps. Many can hardly read and many write poorly. Breaking through to them can be difficult but Jesus will never forgets us and you should try to deal with them. You respond to the person who wrote you. When you request a Pen Friend your name goes to the bottom of a pile, next to the inmate’s name in another pile. You read the inmate’s information and letter. You respond to the inmate’s letter and application. Do not be preachy. Respond to his or her information, or to what they to write you.
Almost everywhere there is separation of Church and State. The Bible tells us of rumors of wars. A friend said that if all Christians voted with JESUS as a write in, someone might pay attention. We think of God’s action declaring Heaven as HIS, giving Satan the earth. On the cross Jesus asked forgiveness and we are told to go forth. We did a survey awhile back and were truly surprised at the results. 60% of folks do not read the Bible daily. 70% do not pray daily. More surprising is Church attendance is way off. Happiness is to know the Savior. I got a note a while back; “Don I would love to write an inmate, and also like to go to church but can not get anyone to take me.” She can now.
Church is not just a learning experience but a learning activity. I remember stories of jail ministry, pot luck, in-gathering, community service. Sabbath school, Sunday school. Read the last chapter of Malachi. When that trumpet blows we pray all are ready to go, first class and forever.
What Says the Bible, the Bible to me? Words of men so often mislead us, what says the Bible to me? How this works. The inmates hear about us or we are in a resource manual. They write a letter requesting information. We send them an application which tells you about them and the prison. They are then asked to write an introduction letter. Some cut the corners. Many are looking for a female, or funding. We deal with those. In plain language, what they are looking for is not available through us. The prison does not provide much. We write many of these and do offer a chance. We have some folks willing to take on hard core inmates. I often do and Yvonne and Ronna and Jake help.
Most prisons have Chaplains who are often more cops than ministers. Even these men and women are manipulated by the convict. A vital part of prison religion comes from the volunteers. Working with several great Chaplains has helped us survive in a confusing system. We learned (and teach) to not let our Doctrine be a barrier, but a Bridge to Jesus.
It’s rare, but some prisons have some kind of volunteer program every night. Some inmates attend all the services to learn, or to try to get points toward parole. I know one inmate who has completed a hundred Bible studies and is still not even a Christian! Confusing, just being in prison.
I will never forget an inmate at San Quentin. He was taught by one group about eternal salvation, another about diet, another about speaking in tongues, yet another about the state of the dead. He came to us one morning after being up all night trying to learn speaking in tongues. We explained it was a gift and God would, or might, give it to him. It is such a joy to teach the simplicity of Jesus and let Him take over. If a man or woman in prison is going to talk the talk, they had better walk the walk. George was put into prison and assigned to San Quentin’s “C” section - a very tough section of the prison. He found a Bible in his cell and read it over and over. God blessed him with a Pen Friend who was able to answer a lot of questions. Andy got a pen friend who spoon-fed him just what they knew and it confused him because he did not understand them or their religion. We explained the simplicity of Jesus. He came to earth to live an example for all of us.
Paper Sunshine has done a powerful job of changing men and women, boys and girls. It took a long time to develope. And the results are massive. But the blessing it gives to those in prison is a chance to better themselves. Prison today is really terrible. I heard a guard on a TV news show say the inmates must join a gang or they will not make it. Often people go to prison for a crime he or she may or may not have done. Let’s say drugs, for example. A person is sentenced to five years. This is a crime and they should pay a price. An example - his name is George. He is 22, married with two children. He lost his job and could not find one. A friend (???) told him he could make money selling drugs. To feed his family, this he did. With no money for an good attorney, he got an overworked attorney. He was sentenced to seven years and sent to a maximum security prison. Sure he did the crime, but the rich get richer, the poor prison.
Let’s say a church has five hundred members and all write to inmates. Then let’s say we get several hundred churches to do that. What a joy divine our small church 100 members joined your Pen Friend Program. After church the ones writing got together and talked about the Pen Friend program. Crime prevention can be changed. At one time, we took on 50 inmates as Pen Friends. All the writers did not get along with their assigned inmate. We rematched them we ended up enrolling 33 inmates in Bible studies. You never have your address known, not even the state you live in.
Mabel was a friend of Yvonne, her parents, and then me. Mabel spent a great deal of time writing to many inmates. When she had a problem she prayed and took it on. She knew her friends at times could not write back because of the lack of stamps pens, paper, pencils, etc. She never quit. When she knew she was dying she got new friends for all her flock. When an inmate complained about her color, she would tell them she was black and proud of it. Mabel is resting for the events Jesus promises us all. God blessed her.
We often sound like we defend the criminal and their crime. Not so. But we have a problem with inmates going to prison as punishment and not for punishment.
Things that do not work are long sentences with no rehabilitation. We have loaded prisons to over maximum capacity and have cut staff. In some cases a dog in a pound has more room than an inmate. Some will never change and will keep the revolving door moving. The penal system and court systems are broken and need fixing.
Pastors should be receiving training to deal with the problems in the Church that college does not provide. There are so many temptations in this world that can lead otherwise “innocent” people to prison, and it would be beneficial if Pastors would educate themselves in these areas that are affecting so many in our society, such as drugs, pornography and alcoholic abuse.
FOR SOME OF YOU
Soon, we will be able to scan your e-mail it, scan the response and send it back to you. Yep - more work but look at the rewards. Also if you are matched with someone you can’t deal with, send their information back to us and we will send another Pen Friend.