|Vol. 2002 No. 10 October 2002
Someone Cares Home Page
IF I DIE BEFORE I WAKE
Shortly after we started the Pen Friend Program a letter came across my desk that really caught my attention. The inmate was very open and very blunt. Biker gangs, drugs and murder. His explanation was very blunt and graphic.
My first thought: who could I match this dude with? I threw his letter aside. Driving back from prison after teaching a class on forgiveness, I took the letter and matched myself with Don Hawkins.
Don's life was not good at all and he struck back with vengeance and hate. In and out of jail and prison, all for crimes he committed. He told me in very terse terms that the reason he was so vivid was, he wanted the person who wrote him to know he was only interested in friendship. Don and I wrote for a long time and Yvonne and I were able to bring a little of Jesus into his life. As time went by, we matched him with several Pen Friends.
His walk with Jesus on Oklahoma’s Death Row became mind-boggling; his conversion complete; the change in him amazing. He read and showed himself to be approved. Here was a transformed, gentle giant of a man with biker tatoos all over. Staff were amazed that a man as big as Don, was like a lamb before a lion.
I could go through the details of his crimes but they were terrible. He is on Death Row for being involved in the kidnapping of a prominent woman (he let her two daughters go) and murder. Now if the total change had not come about I would not be writing this. We are proud to call Don our friend and he calls us Ma and Pa and that does not bother us. Don has been on Death row for many years; the sentence at the time of the crime more than fair.
Don’s total conversion has amazed many and his transfor-mation in prison untouchable. His is not a “jailhouse conversion.” He is truly a child of the King. Yvonne and I are asking all of you, (some will be mad at us) to write the Governor of Oklahoma and ask for a conversion of Don’s sentence to life without the possibility of parole. Don did not ask me to do this. If you would like to, drop him a note that you’re thinking of him, and if you’ve sent a letter on his behalf, let him know.
Don Hawkins 153687
PO Box 97 HSW 3 EE
McAlester, Ok 74501
Say “Hi” for us.
Please, he did do the crime; he has and will for the rest of his life pay for that, through the kind of death of life in prison. Don’t sound off at him.
To write the Governor to examine the changed man:
Govenor Frank Keating
3003 N Oklahoma Ave,
Oklahoma City, OK 71105
405 521 2342
Be sure you include Don’s number and address as it is above for a reference in your letter to the Governor.
Many have read or seen the massive move to abolish the Death Penalty, as so many innocent men and women have died. God Bless all and pray for him.
We have worked with Death Row inmates all over the U.S.: San Quentin, Eddyville, Starke, in person and all others through the Pen Friend program. I reflect the Bible verses favoring the Death Penalty, but not because some one is black or a jury makes a mistake. It has never been proven that the sentence of death is a deterrent to crime; in fact, violent crimes go up after an execution. On San Quentin’s death row, I worked with a man for over a year and watched his change. One day he asked me, “Do you know why I'm here?”
“No,” I said.
He then proceeded to tell me and it was an experience I will never forget. I was repulsed, almost threw up, and could not get away fast enough. I never saw that man again. He had built up trust in me and when it came time to really confess, I turned my back on him. Three days later he committed suicide. There is a day coming when I will stand before Jesus and have to explain my actions. He died a year early, but could he have gone to Glory had I not failed?
God has forgiven me and I have finally forgiven myself. Rejoice in the Lord always. Had God not reached down and picked me up, where would I have ended up? Before Jesus, I was on a one-way road to Hell. He has used Yvonne, and me, and all of you to pick up the broken pieces.
GOD HAD A PURPOSE
I have been writing John for a little over three years. I feel strongly that God had a purpose in mind for both of us when we contacted Someone Cares. I think, now, how John endured that period he spent in prison with so much strength of character, love and concern for his family, [which she feels she is part of]. I know he wants to be led by God to use this experience.
He just told me of a program called Lean On Me, where he is now living. Having a Pen Friend often allows us to reveal more of ourselves that we may otherwise never be able to share. I need your help and advice: my husband, not a believer, does not share my enthusiasm for Someone Cares Prison Ministry. John does not know this. I want to keep in touch with John and give encouragement Can I still write through you?[of course.]
This is why we are told to be equally yoked; sure wish I had a crack at her husband. Ever think how much we could all do if our mates were in tune? Pray that God reaches her husband.
DID WE TELL YOU WE MOVED?
My wife may share with you the joy of unpacking everything. We found things we have not seen in years!
We’re always looking for more things to do for Jesus. He has moved us to an area where we can really use our talents. My expertise in gangs and drugs has already been called on. I am going to start booking speaking engagements and it appears there will be many. We may not be going into prison as often, (those we work with and train will). Our church sent to Indiana Gary Thurber, with whom we worked in Michigan.
We thank you all for coming with us. Please stop by and visit.
Where would any of us be without God? We have been so blessed to see how God changes men and women, and what a change it is! I'm not sure to this day if I could really explain it. But there is one thing I know, it isn't us, it is Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God, and many more who help to feed his children as they grow spiritually. All my life, as I was growing up, my big dream was to just buy a house and live in it the rest of my life. I soon learned that this world is not my home, I'm just passing through. It really does feel good to unpack and know that Jesus will soon return to take us to our home for all eternity. No more shelf paper to lay; won't have to worry about meals—just eat from the Tree of Life; what a joy that will be. I pray that each and every one of us, while on this earth, will stay active for God in sharing the Good News with others who may not know Him. We can all witness in our own different ways that God has given us, so as my father would say, if God opens a door walk through it. How many of us today are just standing in the doorway doing nothing??
When we were at Soledad I went into an inmate’s cell to deliver some Christimas cards. He said, “Sit down,” so I sat down on his bunk. What a surprise! No springs, just metal from the wall, and a thin mattress,
I said, “This is hard!” He agreed.
I looked around and said “How can you live like this?”
He said it was just a state of mind; he had found peace and happiness from within.
I will never forget that day. I learned that we take so much for granted, and yes, most of us have far more than we need. Think how you might be used of God. Talk to Him and listen for the answer.
Doing prison ministries is fun for Don and me, but I must say, we certainly do not choose the inmates we want to be around. God chose to call us into prisons to talk and mingle with all, not just a few select ones.
When we first started in prison ministries, we chatted about it and with a lot of prayer, we decided that Jesus mingled with all when He was on this earth, so we would follow His example. When you follow Jesus and surrender all to Him, you soon realize that He is in control and will give you no more than you can handle.
There have been days I thought would never end, and often wondered if I had handled everything in the way I should.
In pastures green? Not always; sometimes He who knoweth best, in kindness leadeth me in many ways where heavy shadows be. Out of the sunshine into the darkest night, I oft would faint with sorrow and affright.Only for this I know He holds my hand;
So whether in the green or desert land, I trust, although I may not understand.
And by still waters ? No, not always so; Ofttimes the heavy tempests round me blow, and o'er my soul the waters and the billows go; but when the storms beat loudest and I cry aloud for help, the Master standeth by and whispers to my soul, "Lo, it is I."
Above the tempest wild I hear Him say, "Beyond this darkness lies a perfect day, in every path of thine I lead the way."
So whether on the hilltops high and fair I dwell, or in the sunless valleys where the shadows lie, what matters? He is there.
So where He leads me, I can safely go, and in the blest hereafter I shall know Why, in His wisdom, He hath led me so.
ODDS AND ENDS
Many of you have asked for female Pen Friends, of which we don’t get many. Those writing females, please ask your friend for other females’ names, numbers, and addresses, who might like a Pen Friend. A rule of thumb: they must have over a year left to serve.
A dozen ministries have acquired our Pen Friend information and have taken the liberty of promoting our Pen Friend Program. Please ask your Friend if their prison has such a list with Someone Cares on it, to send a copy to us.
Every now and then we are asked by inmates for extra applications. We do not send the information, as it can end up a friendship thing causing trouble. We like the way God handles it.
REST IN PEACE
We wish to extend our deepest sympathy to Judy Mohr-Stephens on the loss of her husband. They belonged to our Church in Sunnyvale and gave us the first large donation we ever received.
Also to Jay Baldwin for the loss of his wife, Myrna. At a time in my life when my walk with Jesus was timid, Myrna and Jay and their children sang at a Camp Meeting, a song I needed to hear, at a time I needed to hear it. God is so good to send the right folks in a time of need.
The following has been forwarded many times on the Internet, but was too beautiful not to share it with you.
I WISH YOU ENOUGH
Recently I overheard a father and daughter in their last mom-ents together. They had announced her departure and standing near the security gate, they hugged and he said, " I love you. I wish you enough."
She said, "Daddy, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Daddy."
They kissed and she left.
He walked over toward the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see he wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on his privacy, but he welcomed me in by asking, "Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?"
"Yes, I have," I replied. Saying that brought back memories I had of expressing my love and appreciation for all my Dad had done for me. Recognizing that his days were limited, I took the time to tell him face to face how much he meant to me. So I knew what this man was experiencing.
"Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?" I asked.
"I am old and she lives much too far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is, the next trip back would be for my funeral, " he said.
"When you were saying good-bye I heard you say, 'I wish you enough.' May I ask what that means?"
He began to smile. "That's a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone." He paused for a moment and looking up as if trying to remember it in detail, he smiled even more. "When we said 'I wish you enough,' we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them," he continued and then turning toward me he shared the following as if he were reciting it from memory.
"I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright. I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more. I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive. I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger. I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting. I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess. I wish enough 'Hello's' to get you through the final 'Good-bye.'" He then began to sob and walked away.
My friends and loved ones, I wish you ENOUGH!
Have you ever heard Don and Yvonne so happy? When they’ve moved before, it was always another phase of their job opening up. Now, they’re working from home, and their sense of “nomaderie” seems to be dispelled. They will be free to serve their prisoners, speak to groups, and develop the programs and staff that will keep meeting the needs of the ministry, as well as keep up the Pen Friend Program.
I hadn’t been doing the newsletter very long when Don asked me to write an inmate, and said it was O.K. to write direct! I’ll never forget how uneasy I was about it, but the inmate put me at ease at once, and even coded my address so no one could harm me. Does that sound like a kidnapper on Death Row to you? That inmate was Don Hawkins, and we’ve been writing for several years. He’s been my dear “nephew” all that time, and I’ve been his “busybody Auntie Jean.” This man’s love for Jesus has been such an inspiration to me. He runs a ministry from his bermed-up, concrete tomb, even writing sermons for other ministers! He had an article in this newsletter some months back. And if he should be released and show up on my doorstep, I would invite him in for dinner. Well, with my housekeeping skills being what they are, he’d probably prefer to eat out.
On the rare occasions when he can phone, our conversations are far too short. I know I will never hear anything out of line spoken in that easy-going Oklahoma drawl. This man has lived in a world of concrete for more than twelve years. His feet have not touched grass. He has not seen the sky as an expanse of blue not crossed by the bars over the exercise cubicle, yet he maintains a Christ-like attitude and keeps on ministering. He’s been told he has about 6 to 7 months, now to put his affairs in order; hence the urgency in trying to have the Governor change the status of his sentence.
When the Holy Spirit trans-forms our lives, the change is obvious to everyone around us. Have you never noticed people smiling at you as you walked down the street or through the mall? Then you realize you were smiling at them first and it was just Jesus’ love shining through..
If God calls you to ministry, please say “Yes, Lord.” Sure it takes time. But God takes His time, 24/7, to look after you and me, and we think it’s our due.
“Three hots and a cot” with no responsibility may sound cool to you, but the food can be crude and the cot’s a rock.