|Vol. 2003 No. 3 February 2003
Of God’s people working in HIS will. It is hard to believe that after almost thirty years of doing what GOD called us to do, there is still a rush getting it done. Every time we get a letter, call, or visit a prison, a new excitement wells up inside me. I don’t think I ever lost the excitement of becoming a Christian and all God’s word had in it for me, and Yvonne, and you.
We were asked if we planned to retire soon. I don’t plan to retire at all. One, we are having too much fun. Two, every day a different door seems to draw us into a brand new area. Four supporters: Larry & Mona, Bob and Michelle, Bob & Debbie and Lynae have made the Two Care Program a reality. Each of you who supports this ministry makes its expansion a "now we can do it" possibility. The Pen Friend Program, because it works so well, has exploded in prisons everywhere. We have almost not been able to keep up with the requests, much less match every request when we get the applications.
Her name is Kathy. We met her at Camp Meeting a long time ago. She signed up to be a Pen Friend and a $1.50 a month supporter. Over the last twenty years she has written fifty inmates, and at 93 she still writes four. She also has loyally sent her $1.50 a month for all these years! It’s not the amount but the dedication.
CANADIAN SUPPORTERS: We thank each of you and are happy to have so many from Canada support us. We ask you to send cash instead of checks, as there is a bank charge for each check and exchange rate difference. We do need you. A lot of our supplies are purchased in Canada so we can use the cash as well as checks.
The counselor here gave me your name and address. My name is Terry and I am just plain scared. When I think of the mess I’m in and how I got here, I cry. I am a single parent to a wonderful little girl. Had a good job and thought I had it together but debts kept growing. To help with expenses I rented a room to a nice man and things did get better. One snowy night a knock on my door bought hell to my life. I opened the door to a couple of policemen looking for my renter. I explained he was not home, they did not believe me. A bit worried of their tone, I asked for a warrant which they never produced. My renter arrived home through the back door. The police crashed in, knocking me to the floor. I was arrested for obstruction, thrown on the floor, handcuffed, bruised and taken to jail. A female police officer stayed with my daughter until my brother could be contacted. Taken to jail and booked was the most degrading thing ever to happen to me. I was bailed out by my Mother out of state. It was the middle of the night, I had no coat, no socks, and no way to get home. And the police cared not. I got a cab and had to break a window to get in.
Of course this ended up in the paper and being a small town, I lost my job. Now I did something really stupid. I had a key to my ex-employer’s business and knew he kept cash on hand. I went and took it to pay rent and eat. Well the judge was a bit understanding and gave me two years in prison. My Mom got my daughter. I really need Someone Who Cares. I am not a Christian, but think I need to examine this.
The second part of that Bible examination is in this newsletter. Don called us the other night and again I was blessed. I remember him when he first contacted us, a rough, tough convict. He has had sixteen years to study God’s word and folks, he put me to shame. We have worked with thousands of inmates but none like Don. We made arrangements that if Don is to be executed, Yvonne and I will spend his last night together and be with him through the ordeal.
As he puts it, it is not Death Row but a stepping stone to his eternity with Jesus. He talked about other men who have died and who he had helped up until their death. Both inmates and staff know he is a Christian and a Child of The King. We are trying to arrange for Voice Of Prophecy to do a radio show with Yvonne and me and Don on Death Row. We do ask each of you to pray for the Born-Again Don Hawkins. Don asks for prayer for the victim’s family also.
Already into the month of February; many challenges lie ahead for us to meet. I want to thank you all for the lovely Christmas cards we received and the many pictures. We really enjoyed them very much.
Yes, this Christmas was fun and different. We enjoyed family and grandchildren; what more can you ask for? It is grand being a grandparent. What fun!
We are excited this year. Thanks to so many of you, we start the Two-care program. Would you be willing to visit an inmate once a month as a family project for the Lord?? You have no idea what it can do to help the inmate. They feel very honored that someone from the outside would come and visit them on the inside. It is hard for them to understand, when some don't even have their own family visiting them. Your actions sometimes speak much louder than your words. Give it some thought and prayer and see if you might want to venture out of your own comfort zone and try it? From experience I can tell you that you will not regret it and it may open your mind and increase your blessings. It did for us. Give it a try! May God Bless each of you in a very special way.
[I can only add a hearty Amen to that, Yvonne! Shirley and I will give up many things on our schedule, but not the blessings we receive from our prison ministry! Inmates even stop us on our way to the Chapel and ask if we’re the “Church Ladies.” We tell them how they can ask the Chaplain to let them visit our service to see if they like it. Another volunteer comes as well, and has had two baptisms so far. Praise God!] J
You may know that a Governor has commuted all the Death Row sentences in his state. The massive corruption getting illegal convictions, bad lawyers (many disbarred) led to this action.
The Bible is not against the Death Penalty; in fact, we are under such a sentence. We do not approve of it because so many innocent have been put to death.
It’s going to be a real surprise how many we did not expect will be in Heaven, and how many we did, will not be.
We have a lot of mail we would like to deliver, many to Pen Names you forgot to give us, or we missed.Dorothy from Ray Schaft.
To save space I’ll just list the receiver:Jessia Marie, Julie Miller, M Munford, Connie Page, Chris Pheonix, Dennis Rank, Rosie. Sandi, Sheri, Mary Smith, Connie Steelman, D Tracy, A Walker, S Wallis. C Wilcox, L Wolf, Pat Aletest. F Allen. Amelia & Lee
The period between death and the resurrection is represented as sleeping in Sheol or Hades, the place of the dead. This is not heaven. It is the same place that the writer of Acts speaks of David as being (Acts 2:29), for he had not ascended into heaven (verse 34). Not that David missed out or anything, because he rejoiced in God’s forgiveness of his sins (even adultery and murder). David knew of the resurrection of the dead and said, “as for me I will behold thy face in righteousness, I shall be satisfied when I awaken in thy likeness.” (Psalm 17:15).
We need not fear death when we understand it. One can’t help but wonder what awaits him or her in the great beyond. It will be a deep dreamless sleep in the grave until the resurrection. Saint Francis of Assisi summed it up in saying, “It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” The rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) is a parable despite what some want to believe and teach. Jesus spoke to them in parables and without a parable He spoke not unto them (Matthew 13:34). For Jesus to have gone to paradise at the time of His death as spoken to the thief on the cross, then His telling Mary not to touch Him three days later for He had not yet ascended unto the Father, would be untrue.
His promise to the thief for his faith is that he’d not have to wait for judgement, for this day I say unto you, ye shall be with me in paradise. Some translations leave the punctuations out but Jesus would not lie, so His words should be taken in context with what He taught and inspired men to write from Genesis to Revelation.
My intent is not to argue doctrine or remove hope for anyone. Having spent over sixteen years on death row for a past that I cannot change, I have had death as an ever-present threat. I personally could care less if one sleeps in death or goes directly to heaven, even though I prefer a correct interpretation of scripture. When you are facing death, your focus isn’t on how many kings Israel had, or a correct study of church history. Facing death has a way of focusing the mind like nothing else. Your world quickly becomes reduced to what’s truly important. Your salvation isn’t based on some elaborate vast, theological knowledge. You “turn your eyes upon Jesus and look full in His wonderful face, and the things of this world grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”
You put away your favorite little sins and feel pure before the Lord. Your prayers aren’t hindered by guilt and your heart becomes sensitive enough to allow you to feel as Christ did and weep as He did for His friend Lazarus. I was confused, not knowing what to feel, but I knew my appeal had been denied and the newspapers read “COURT SAYS HAWKINS MUST DIE.” Your heart breaks over and over and you weep from honesty. There’s no fear of an investigative judgment, or what others say about you. The humbling humility of truth works even the more to magnify Christ in your need for redemption. You see yourself only as the sinner in need of forgiveness and grace.
The emotional brokenness I felt turned to faith as I read about Paul standing before the Sanhedrin counsel and Agrippa. Paul told Agrippa that he worshiped the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He goes on to say, “they accuse me not for teaching against the law; they accuse me for teaching a resurrection of the dead.” This was a man who could have profited much to return to the religion of the Jews. He had not met the man Jesus Christ, but did meet the resurrected Lord on the road to Damascus.
The first law of human nature is self-preservation, yet this man was willing to suffer prison, torture and death to teach a resurrection of the dead. His Epistle to the Corinthians began to stand out. “Now if Christ be preached that He rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain (empty of value) and your faith is also vain? But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the first fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming (1 Corinthians 15:12-23). “Behold, I show you a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed?” 1 Corinthians 15:51-54.
But I would not have you to be ignorant (without understanding), brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also, which sleep in Jesus, will God bring with Him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (precede) them that are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we that are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
Not only is there comfort in knowing this truth of the resurrection of the dead but also understanding that removes fear, distrust and questions about death. And it’s understandable how a God of love would allow for the death of His prophets, apostles, disciples and millions of martyrs or the innocent.
He has power over death to where death has no sting and the grave has no victory (1 Corinthians 15:55,56; Isaiah 25:8; Hosea 13:14). “Thou shalt call and I will answer thee” (Job 14:15). Without the hope of the resurrection, life would have no purpose except that you live to die at some unknown point. While Job looked forward with faith and hope to a resurrection, it was Isaiah who first pointed toward the event so clearly fulfilled in Christ. See Isaiah 26:19.
Without Christ dying for our sins to meet the demands of justice for us, in that the wages of sin being death, we could not be justified and redeemed. But in Christ are we freely justified and not of ourselves through works. Peter went from denying Jesus; the disciples from hiding in fear (John 20:19); and Paul from persecuting Christians to being willing to suffer prison, torture and death to teach a resurrected Lord and resurrection of the dead. With this hope, we should not fear man who can only destroy the body. But fear Him who can destroy both body and soul in hell (the grave). Man can punish my body, but not my soul or spirit because God has forgiven me.
Though a man die, yet shall he live. Even if, by some providence, I am spared from execution in the coming months (around March 2003) this truth is still mine, for whenever my appointment with death may be. There is coming a time of trouble upon the saints of God like never before and we will need to comfort one another with this hope. The missionaries going into dangerous lands need not fear death. No one is promised another day of life or even another breath. But you are promised a resurrection in Christ, your Lord and Savior.
The Elders in the life care homes, or centers, that have come near the end of their race, can take comfort in this blessed hope. John, in Revelation, says blessed (happy and to be envied) are they who die in the Lord, for their labors do cease and their works do follow them (Revelation 14:13). It’s “good-bye, I’ll see you later” for those of us who trust in Christ’s resurrection. We need not look to the appeals of courts or the fountain of youth. You need not fear death, or not living any more, because there is a resurrection of the dead unto eternal life. This is our hope and faith, which brings peace that this world cannot offer us nor understand.
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