Quietly Changing Lives
The first forty 40 years were a real challenge but with God in control and the help of so many of you, here we are. Yvonne and I are blessed in so many ways. When my blood sugar hit 1343 earlier this year I tried to escape from the hospital but had to stay nine days. No problems since. If you remember awhile back a car crashed into us doing a lot of damage. Yvonne is better from that episode but a later fall fractured her hip. More done there than in the two prison riots we went through.
Yvonne’s parents were Seventh Day Adventist pastors. I was baptized in the Sunnyvale Church. For years we had a booth at camp meetings on prison ministry often filling in as pastors. All of our funding was by tax deductible donations. We have never drawn a salary from any church or state agency. We must admit that at times things were tough.
Yvonne was asked to visit an inmate dying of AIDS. She knew about AIDS and had to wear gloves and other safety apparel. She and the inmate had a chat and she held his hand in prayer. Whenever we were asked to do this again, we wore nothing to protect us as it was not needed.
Don’t let doctrine be a barrier but rather a bridge to Jesus. For seven years at Soledad we worked with all Christian faiths teaching message that to volunteers. Getting all them together we agreed to an All Faiths’ Chapel and attendance grew very rapidly. Religion often gets in the way of Jesus.
See our archived newsletters. They go back many years. There you will find out why Paul and Silas broke into prison. You will see how with your help and God’s blessing we are planning on “keeping on” with this Ministry. In fact if we all believe Jesus wants to come back and get us, we could have our folks in every US prison and even reach out to inmates in Canada.
We spent seven years as full-time, unpaid chaplains at Soledad Prison. We had two sessions in the same schools the guards go through. Then we were asked to come to San Quentin and we split time between both prisons. We worked 7 days a week. This was followed by Robles Boys School and Avenal Prison. Then we went to Kentucky for several years. Then we were off to Michigan and then called back to California. Now we are in Fort Wayne to stay. We have been through riots and walked the cell blocks of the hard core. Yvonne was allowed to walk the yard escorted by nothing but her angels. We have been on radio for years with Voice of Prophecy. They still use our Pen Friend program. We have been on TV with 3 ABN several times. At San Quentin the head chaplain said we were his best trained volunteers. We were allowed many times to take inmates out of prison to speak in church and camp meetings.
There we helped form the Adventist Prison Ministry Association. This was to put creditability and accountability into prison ministry. Later we helped in exposing David Mould and his Jesus Behind Bars ministry, who in the name of Jesus, cheated a lot of folks and the church out of thousands of dollars.
Yvonne met an inmate who had not gotten a letter in years. This man inspired our Pen Friend program. With the help of Voice of Prophecy we got thousands of inmates into a Bible study. With the changes at VOP, please pray that we continue to be featured as sharing God’s work through us and YOU.
YOU AND YOUR FAMILY! I got a phone call years ago. “Don, you spoke at my husband’s church and being the pastor’s wife for 20 years, I signed up. The Pen Friend you matched me with led me to Christ. I thank Jesus, my husband, and that inmate for all you do.”
JESUS IS! Many years ago we got a letter and the name was not familiar. It said, “You will not remember me.” We did not. “Years ago I joined your ministry through the Pen Friend program. You matched me with a grandmother on one coast and a bunch of kids on the east coast. Over the years I received cards, letters and Christian love. Today I got another letter, my signed death warrant. No - don’t cry.” We did. “Thanks to you, a grandma and a bunch of kids the next thing I see will be Jesus.” The grandmother wrote 12 death row inmates until she died. Some of the kids and parents wrote for a long time.
We have hundreds of inmate poems, stories and quite a bit of video done in prison which we will try to put together. I am going to finish writing my life story this winter. We are also going to have several videos, CDs and DVDs on what we do and how we do it. Some of these are How to start a Dress Out Program, A Pen Friend Program, and Remedial Reading. That way we can still put on programs about what God has had us doing all these years. You can walk the walk and talk the talk. We would love to send you a Pen Friend packet. Look through it and if comfortable write to the inmate or return it to us. If everyone reading this could write a check, small or large, it will help Please if nothing else pray someone will do this. The God Squad, Yvonne Don Ronna Jake, and soon Mike
We have spent much time and prayer on that. My health is amazingly good. Yvonne has a “catch” in her “get-along” but we are able. Ronna is well versed in the ministry. Her ex - Jake’s father - is getting out of prison after many years. We have folks in 13 states that can become Care groups. In California so many years ago we were part of: (1) Match Two. This is a one-to-one or couple who visit monthly. This gives inmates a chance to prepare for release and also share problems. (2) Dress Outs. If the inmate does not have clothes he must buy the clothes they are wearing. (3) Paper Sunshine which is now all done through us and can become statewide.
Many years ago I spoke at a church which was the basis for our fund raising and enlisting Pen Friends. As we were leaving, an elderly Mexican woman handed me a handkerchief filled with coins. She said that I should use it to lead someone to Jesus. I put it in my pocket and did not open it until we got home. It was 87 cents. After this inspiration the next day I preached a million dollar sermon. Thank you Jesus! And we had a massive alter call.
TO THE CROSS: The world is dealing with racial problems. Jesus on the way to be crucified dropped his cross. It was too heavy with all our sins. A man picked it up and took the weight. What color was he?
We have never asked anyone to stop paying a tithe to their church. We do have many who do not have a church but rather pay a tithe to us. God’s riches at Christ’s expensive. All are tax deductible. By faith and knowing what the future holds, receiving this tithe can assure us that we will go forward. Someone might want to sponsor an ad in Christianity Today or in one of the Gleaners. We do not say give to us and you will be saved, but someone will have a chance to live normal and free in Jesus. We do believe that when Jesus said get in the boat, we are going to the other side, He will get us there. If Jesus says we can walk on water, we will keep our eyes on HIM and do so.
I was sitting at my computer with a big stack of requests for a Pen Friend. I then wandered through the many of your names we have. I called one and asked if they would take one more inmate. Twenty-five calls later I had matched a whole bunch of folks. On my computer are many Christians that from radio, TV, speaking at churches or camp meetings have joined us. I asked one man to make a donation. He said, “Sure - you never asked before.” Our God is an awesome God. If you have written an inmate tell a friend about it. We need folks to write. There are thousands of folks in prison that may never get a chance to know HIM without you. No we do not approve of crime. Like myself I made a mistake, paid my time, and Yvonne led me to HIM. He said we are going home and I need your help. Someone Cares needs your help to help HIM and we will all get to go home.
When we started this ministry there were about 800,000 inmates In prisons. Today there are over two million. When we started they could earn a little money or go to school for a GED. Several states have tried to stop our ministry. Jesus saves. If you have a computer look up prison gangs, corruption, gang control or prison pen pals. These are very terrible places and it shows you why we work so hard to help those trying to change.
Don & Yvonne