|Vol. 2001 No. 07 July 2001
THIS WORLD IS NOT MY HOMESomeone Cares Home Page
No matter how I moved I could not get comfortable. I was cuffed through a belt around my waist and my ankles were in shackles. The bus was packed and the smell was terrible. I had to go to the bathroom and was trying to hold on, some had not. I closed my eyes and all of a sudden I was speaking in front of my college graduation class. The brief vacation, on to an excellent job in upper level management. A year later, my wife and I moved into a home in the best section of town, and both drove new cars.
Why Crack? I was in New York for a management convention and was one of the speakers. After the meeting I went for a walk and came across a small night club. Oh, how I wish I had never entered. I sat down and ordered a drink and my eyes adjusted to the dark. Sitting one stool over was a very beautiful lady. Why did I look twice? A conversation led to an invitation and I never looked back. Soon, in a neat apart-ment, I was given Crack for the first time. I really don’t remem-ber much after that except waking up in a bed I did not belong in. Another hit of crack and I was ready to take on the world. My habit grew faster than pay raises and soon debt crept into a secure life. I was arrested and convicted of embezzlement, given 5 years.
The bus is turning into the sun and toward its final desti-nation, Starke Prison. I had not prayed since I was a boy but pray I did. Funny, in prayer I thought of the first $1500 suit I ever bought. Now, dressed in filthy rags, I was to turn into an animal.Survival to Pass Through
In my 44 years of life I had never been in a fight, never been close to tough people, and not pre-pared to live among them. After quarantine I was given a cell with a person as opposite from me as could be. Uneducated and perverted. I would learn from him how to survive. He was from Hell’s Kitchen, a slum area, and had grown up on the streets. He was serving 37 years—his 4th time in prison. I met a man who warned me to be prepared to protect myself and told me I should get a shank (a prison knife); no way. The 3rd night in my cell, my cell mate wanted to have sex. I said no. He told me I had no choice and I knew it was sex or defend myself. I took a terrible beating but it was worth getting out of there. In the hospital an inmate told me no matter what, don’t tell what happened but I did. $65,000 was the down pay-ment on my house. I now made 17 cents an hour! Pay Back. Word had gotten to me that my ex-cell mate was a gang member and if I did not hook up (join a gang for protection) they would get even. And join I did. I had never even had a parking ticket, now I was a convict, and a gang member. Wonder If I was still a member of The Exchange Club?Cell Transfer—Change of Life.
My new cell mate was a Christian. He told me the only freedom was Jesus Christ. I was doing drugs in prison and getting the money by selling them. We talked for hours and I accepted Christ. My five years had grown to seven, but all of a sudden a felt a new freedom. I studied the Bible, started working on an appeal, my family got a new attorney and I will be getting out in a couple of months. No, I don’t have my job or my wife, but I’m asking, in the name of Jesus. My cell mate was led to Christ through Someone Cares and Voice Of Prophecy. A letter came from Don & Yvonne saying no matter what else I did upon release, join a church. Also, pray a lot, which I shall and do.
Many of you followed the suggestions and used a Pen Name in your Paper Sunshine Ministry. Small problem: you forgot to tell us what it was. Please write your assigned inmate and do this:
On the envelope to your inmate put his/her name, number, and address. Do not put stickers on the envelope. Put your name or Pen Name and our address for return. Do not put “Someone Cares” anywhere on envelope to inmate!!!
On envelope TO US, put your real name + Pen Name and your address. If you write three times and get no answer let us know and we will get you another Pen Friend. If we owe you a name, send us a jolt.
FAITH PARTNERS/ FINANCIAL SUPPORTERS
You are an amazing bunch of folks and we prayerfully thank you, whether the donation is $1.00 or much more. We are blessed with a super bunch of Pen Friends and Faith Partners and a lot of Pen Friend/Faith Partners.
This ministry is looking into a permanent headquarters. The banker asked, when looking at the applications, “Source of Income: GOD?” I told her we have not received a pay check in years and the free will offer-ings of all of you kept us going and growing.
She asked, “What if they stop?”
I said, "Don’t ask me, Ask God!
I recently found a book that was my Grandmother's. The title of the book is His Cross and Mine. It was published in 1927 by Review & Herald Publishing Assoc. The Author is Meade MacGuire.
Now, I have moved this book around with me for about 25 years, but just recently have been studying it, not just reading it. I pray I'm not alone; how many of you have moved things from place to place, yet really never have taken the time to figure out why you still have them? As this ministry keeps growing by leaps and bounds, and as God keeps opening doors for us to go through, I often wonder how we are going to do it all, but yet I know that if it is God's will, the money will always come in and we will be able to work God's plan. I really believe that soon and very soon Jesus is coming to take us home with Him. What a day to look forward to!! We all need to pull together, and work together, and make sure we can say we have done our part. For those of you in the paper Sunshine program, keep it up, don't get discouraged; and for our Faith Partners, keep on reaching and giving because this is what it takes—everyone working together for the common goal of seeing Christ’s soon return! My Aunt Opal, who just recently was laid to rest, was a great inspiration to me since I can remember. Please keep the family in your prayers. Her full name was Opal Reynolds, she was married to Elder Earl Reynolds, and they were strong leaders for the Lord. They never gave up on anyone, or any project for our Lord! As we see some of our strong leaders laid to rest, it is up to us to carry on boldly where they have left off. Are you willing to take that challenge, to keep on going, instead of sitting down? We, as Christians, want to keep on carrying the cross that God has given us, and will enable us to carry on. You might want to check out Matt.10:38 and make a personal commitment to carry on in God's work. We will be praying for all of you, and please keep us in your prayers.
How blessed we are! We have a Faith Partner who will pay to fly Don anywhere in the U.S. to pick up a car, station wagon, van or truck that is donated.
FAQs (frequently asked questions)
Writing “Chosen” Inmates
Q. Thank you for giving me a "safe" way to write to inmates and also share God's word with them. I pray that with an uplifting word and my prayers for them, they will have the strength to go on and do well once they are released.
I do have a question. As a Criminal Justice Instructor, I find information on inmates who I would like to write to. Again, I would like to do it through your ministry. If I give you the name, location and inmate number can you set it up, or could I just send their mail with my regular mail to your address and have it forwarded?? Let me know. These are individuals who I don't want to write to directly. Thank you, Anne L.
A. Yes, you may write to an inmate through us. See the instructions under House Keeping on Page 2. We’d be happy to have you as part of our Pen Friend family.
Q. I've been writing to an inmate that I met through your Pen Friend Program and have had such a blessing from it. It’s been sad; since we started writing, my pen friend had a stroke and it was terrible to see the change in her hand writing. She also has a tumor now, but she is so positive and loves God so much! She is so wonderful. It has been an awesome experience. I've been reading your newsletters and I even read on your web page some and I feel really impressed by what you do, and how you can hardly get along with your means.
I've been contemplating for many months what to do with my tithe. I've been saving it up. I'm only 19 years old, so I don't make a whole bunch. I've read a lot on the use of tithe, and as far as I can tell, you two and your ministry fit right into the requirements for tithe money? I would like to ask your permission to send some to you. You call yourselves "unpaid Chaplains," and although I don't have much, I think God is convincing me that I need to send you more than just my meager offerings ? I wanted to get your input on this. I don't want to be sending people tithe without them knowing what it is. I will continue praying on this subject as always, asking God to show me somewhere to send his money so that it can be used for His message to reach more people by His entrusted servants.
With all sincerity, Tim[letter was edited due to length]
A. Your question is a frequent one, Tim. While we never solicit tithes that belong to an individual’s church, we do not turn away funds that are sent to support one of God’s vital ministries. Thank you for your thoughtfulness toward us.
A CHAPLAIN’S DILEMMA
The future of Volunteer Ministry at our institution is "up for grabs," humanly speaking. For almost 4 years, we have had volunteers coming into our prison, unescorted, to conduct Bible Studies and chapel services. Seven of our eight supervisors have not balked at the program (granted, some of them weren't on board long enough to know what we were doing and that's a whole 'nother can of frustration!).
However, the present supervisor, who is a former Correctional Officer at the prison next door to us, has minced no words and has dug his heels in and said "no religious volunteer comes into the institution without an escort". This means that either a correctional officer or a chaplain has to walk to the entrance of the institution, escort them in, stay at least in the vicinity while they're inside, and then escort them back to the gate when the evening is over.
Obviously, this makes it nigh unto impossible for the chaplain to multiply his effectiveness; hence, we are able to do a "maintenance" ministry at best.
I am weary of trying to use logic and reason to persuade my supervisor to look at the situation from a broader viewpoint. He seems paranoid, quite frankly, and doesn't seem interested in budging.
On Thursday, June 14th, at 3:00 p.m., I have an appoint-ment with the Warden to present what I hope will be a compelling case for a volunteer program similar, in many ways, to a large number of our 33 institutions. Pray that I will have the information I need in hand by that date and that I will say what needs to be said in an appropriate fashion.
They say, "An honest confession is good for the soul — lousy on the reputation, but good for the soul." I have to admit that when I "birth" something or pour into something a huge amount of time and energy, I really struggle to remember that it isn't MY ministry. Pray that I'll remember that this is the Lord's volunteer ministry, these are HIS volunteers, and these men who desperately need what the volunteers have to offer are HIS men, in terms of HIS responsibility. Pray that I'll be a faithful steward over the work He's given me to do, but that I'll handle it with an open hand (releasing it to HIM) and not with a clenched fist (holding on to it in an effort to protect or preserve it).
Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to read this rather lengthy prayer request. Some of you know bits and pieces of what's been going on; others know nothing, and this will be new; still others have been with me virtually every step of the way. Regardless of where you are on that spectrum, I really need you to lift me up that whatever the outcome, Jesus will be honored and glorified and the kingdom of God will be best served in this hour at this place.
Thanks for your letter. It will go into our newsletter so all can pray over your, our problem. It is a shame, that from the president down, requests for volunteers have been begged for. As someone who has volunteered their services to prison ministry for over twenty years, we feel the shame of your problem—no rehabilitation and no regeneration.
Mike, I wish we were there, as I would go to the state capitol and help your problem. God's people will be listened to. With your permission, I will contact the Department of Corrections. You and I both know that with that kind of rule, volunteers will have to wait for an escort, or get none and go home. They will become discouraged and quit. Even with IDs to get in, we have been turned around. I told a group just yesterday that you had a budget of $2500 a year to take care of 4 yards. God will give you the words and if you wish, I will write the warden also. Jesus and Christian Volunteers are the only chance most of your charges have. Keep on keeping on and fight the good fight, and you will prevail
Don & Yvonne McClure
The God Squad
Chaplains in almost every prison have a low-budget, low- prison-priority type of job. They’re trapped in a round-robin cycle where the prison functions as a drain for tax dollars, and Christ is left out of the loop, if possible. Stop and consider: your representatives create laws; police and courts prosecute those who break them. Prisons are built by the construction industry. Inmates must be fed, clothed, laundered, sent to an infirmary or hospital for medical attention, all by related service providers. Wardens, Guards and support staff must be hired to be sure the inmates stay inside the walls where some are employed at that wonderful rate of 17¢/hr. the inmate in the first article quoted.
Rehab? Not in the vocabulary of most prisons. So if they’re not improving the minds of their inmates, the dregs are educating them on how to be repeat offender.
With education can come wisdom and pride in having a good job. Dads can be home to help and support their wives and their children, thus keeping them out of the system and off welfare, another drain on tax dollars. The family’s lifestyle can be better. Street gangs could be reduced. Churches should play a larger role in looking after their neighborhoods, teaching healthy living; hosting parenting classes; giving Bible studies; supporting the progress of their new friends in the faith.
Oops! That would cut down the size of “the system,” and where would all those jobs go? I know it all sounds idealistic, but it’s shocking to hear an inmate tell someone he has more sup-port from a Christian inmate’s family than his own. We need to GO and DO. No one goes to a football game to watch the huddle. God likes to see some action, too. In fact, He expects it. Send Paper Sunshine; volun-teer to help your local prison chaplain; help Someone Cares.