Quietly Changing Lives
These are the words of Jesus so long ago. We are so glad that a new interest in Prison Ministry is growing. Also we are finally reaching a younger generation. The older generation has carried the ball a long time. I would like to share a few messages from the inside.
MY NAME IS ALICE:
I am in prison for murder. I was raped by a step father several times. My mother was abused and finally beaten. It was then I killed him. I was given twenty years. Prison is a terrible place. Inmates often are in racial gangs and the weak are picked on. I lost all contact with the outside. Another inmate told me about Someone Cares. I got a Pen Friend and a new lease on life. My friends are an older couple. They gave me a reason to live. I was not a Christian and am really not one yet but am heading that way. I read the Bible and pray a whole lot. I also studied and got a GED. These folks put a purpose back in my life and helped me make plans for getting out. My mom met and married a new person. I have not met him but pray all is well. I look forward to my release and it will be in two more years after a six year reduction of my sentence. Please help this ministry.
MY NAME IS BOB:
I got mixed up with drugs in my teen years and also hung out
MY NAME IS NOT IMPORTANT
I committed a crime and am in prison where I deserved to be let me tell you a bit about prisons. They are terrible. My cell is small, a metal bunk with a very thin mattress. Hot in summer, cold in winter. The food is rotten. I get two meals a day - breakfast and a sack lunch. There is a toilet with a sink as part of it. I have no radio or TV and I’m in this hell hole twenty three hours a day. You can feel the hate in here. I will be here the rest of my life. In an alcohol and drug binge I killed two people. This I do not even remember. I get a shower once a week. I am cuffed and taken to a shower.
About a year ago I was standing looking out on the yard when a voice say “Hi.” A female dressed not in prison garb was standing in front of my cell. “My name is Yvonne and I’m a Christian volunteer.” I was shocked by her, a nice looking, well dressed woman was standing in front of me. She told me she and her husband were chaplains here. We talked for about an hour. She gave me a couple of books and some writing material. She said I‘ll be back. Writing material - who was I to write? For the first time in my life I reflected on what I had done. A couple weeks later she was back, and every couple of weeks either she or her husband stopped by. With information I had given them bits of, they had located my family and I got a letter from my mom. They enrolled me in a Bible study which I had no intention of doing but they also provided me with a Pen Friend. A friend was something I had forgotten. I was excited. I ended up doing the Bible study and several others. Holding hands with Don and Yvonne I accepted Christ. They helped me get a GED and so much more. Because of two unknown folks I learned to care because Someone Cares. Please help these folks or join them or whatever. My custody level has gotten upgraded and I’m in a better prison. I also am not sure but someday I will get out a free man, not only free but free in Jesus. Now my name is important just call me Christian (Jim).
Paper - something we can hold in our hands. Sunshine - something that warms us in the coldest of places. Paper Sunshine - something that warms someone we don’t ever know and perhaps someone we will never meet until glory. We know it is impossible for some of you to understand the darkness inmates live in. The cells are small or large with to many living there. Being cut off from everything and everyone they ever knew is normal. The life and conditions they used to know but a fleeting memory.
A smile costs nothing but gives much. It takes but a moment but can last forever. None are so rich that can get along without it. None are so poor that they can get along without it. It enables those to receive it with out making poor those who give it. It creates sunshine in the home, fosters good will in business. It is the best antidote for trouble. It can not be begged, borrowed or stolen. Some are to busy to give one so give one of yours. The good Lord knows that no one needs a smile more than those who have no more to give.
WE NEED YOU NOW
It is so exciting to tell you what is about to happen. God did it again. We are going to be on Lifetalk.net some time next month. We do not have the dates yet, but we know that they have over 100 stations. You can also hear it on Lifetalk.net. So sometime after the 1st check them out or e-mail us. We have done seven shows and were truly blessed. These seven shows will play on 117 stations. Amen! Prayerfully, this will give us all the writers we need for the Pen Friend Program. Also much need funding. We prayerfully ask each of you who has never given to us to pray about being a Faith Partner. We are going to have to hire some folks or get a bunch of volunteers. Donations are tax deductible. Because of recent success, we got a scanner. But we still need good computers as Jake’s has picked up a virus. We need a quality used car as Jake’s dad will be joining us and the car Ronna is driving has a zillion miles on it. The General Conference of our church has promised to have an article about Someone Cares in a worldwide magazine. We have taken a lot videos in prison which they are cleaning up for us and making it so we can get them to you.
There are so many who go into the prisons to teach and preach. The problem is the most needed ministry is one-to-one. We need to go back were we started. Soledad had volunteers going in seven times a week, all from different churches and different doctrines. We have always taught, “Don’t let your doctrine be a barrier but a bridge to Jesus.” I will use an example that started Yvonne’s push for an all Faith’s Chapel. A group going into prison taught that if you don’t speak in tongues you cannot go to heaven. There was a young man who tried so hard but he could not do this. He attempted suicide. Tongues is talked about in the Bible as a gift. I have never spoken in tongues. Some go to church on Saturday, some on Sunday. Sabbath - was there a calendar change? Some believe in “once saved always saved” - others differently. There are many more differences. A minister wanted a female member to resign her position because she wore slacks. Yvonne does also. We climb stairs from cell to cell and we train the volunteers we take into cell blocks not to wear dresses. A sad example - a new volunteer was asked to lead in prayer prior to the Bible study. He started by asking for prayer request. A new inmate said “Yes, my Mom has died and is in Heaven. Please pray for her.” Instead of prayer, he stated she was not in heaven. The chaplain kicked the volunteer out of the group because the Bible does say the dead in Christ will raise first. “What says the Bible, the Bible to me, words of men so often deceive us, what says the Bible to me.” As Christians we are all going to Heaven. Jesus promised all a home in glory.
As an ending note, I just want to say that when you write, please be careful. Doctrine has gotten me in to a lot of trouble.
You were matched with the person we sent because he or she was on top of a large pile of inmate applications. We opened this program up to all inmates and folks, some of them are really bad. When you write through us, we will weed out some of the folks we matched you with. One reason: the inmates’ letters indicated no interest in change. You will be aware of what we are doing.
Some of you will stick with us. If you are married, make SURE you tell your mate you are writing, and mention him or her. Since the Lord’s love has sent this ministry around the world, one note: Please put your name and our return address on the upper left corner of the envelope. Seal the envelope, as we don’t read it.
We lost a dear friend, Bill Moors, who had been in ministry for years. He, until being forced due to ill health, was the chaplain of Vacaville. He was a real mentor to us and our ministry. One of the videos we are converting has him in it. We ask for prayers for his wife and family.
We also ask for prayer for Jim Finn, a man dedicated to the Lord. Jim was real help years ago working with me and helping push us along. He straightened out the corners I tried to cut and keep us on The Jesus Path.
PEOPLE IN OUR CHURCH
Yvonne and I have walked the prison cell blocks with the worst of the worst. At night we heard their tears.
I have no use for crime, and neither does the Bible. Jesus stopped dying to try to save two more. He got one. Some people are just bad, the rest through just being born, have their backs against the wall. I am reminded often of my becoming a Christian. Including being an atheist, I had done some bad, some stupid things. When God’s Holy Spirit moved in, all the old was GONE. I joined the church, offering to take any job, any position, and became a pretty good member. We had a ton of friends and things were going well.
I was asked to give my testimony, no holds barred, and I did. When the service was over, people walked away instead of toward us. Thank God for Yvonne, who kept me on that straight and narrow path. We can’t help folks out of the gutter without getting a little dirty.
The way to be a good Christian is to be a good listener. Men and women leave prison, determined to make it, but are rejected at the church door.
I have written this before, but one of the greatest times I ever had was accepting an invitation to a church where no one knew us. We dressed like street people and the greeters did not greet us. When we sat down, everyone moved. Then we got up, Yvonne to the piano and me to preach. “I was naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not feed me.”
Thank you, Jesus, for always being there for us. If ever asked
to do anything in the name of Jesus, say “I’ll be happy to.”