SOMEONE CARES PRISON MINISTRY
Quietly Changing Lives
Archived Newsletter

Vol. 2004 No. 10 October 2004
Someone Cares is a faith ministry, supported by God's love and your gifts. It is a non- profit corporation; all donations are tax-deductible.


Don & Yvonne McClure
Directors

      I MET A MAN

      We received the following Email which really touched my heart.

      This is a Thank You note for a change of life experience. I was a correctional officer at a prison you worked at. We even chatted a couple of times in the snack bar. I was assigned to Administration Segregation when I received a call from the Warden that you were bringing a death notice to R.A. The Warden wanted me to take him to a special room and leave you with him.

      I hated this man and was looking forward for him to receive some grief for all the grief he had caused us. R.A. was a convict’s convict and a bad dude. I got another officer and we went to his cell. We had him back up to the door to cuff him before we opened the door. He wanted to know why, but we just said a visitor.

      R.A., 6'5" and 240 lbs., had given all of us a real tussle and had been beaten by staff before. After opening his cell, we shackled him from head to toe. We then moved him, hobbling, to a special room, with him swearing most of the way. You arrived about the time we did.

      You asked us if you could remove the shackles and I told you no. You insisted and the Warden O.K.’d your request. I then locked you two in that special room.

      In a calm manner you told him of the death of his father, which did not seem to bother him a bit. I then listened to you telling him that his father had asked you to share Jesus and His love with him. I chuckled.

      Then I listened to you sharing your life and what Jesus had done for you. He was not interested. He did say that his father was the only good thing in his life. I listened as you told him of the only chance he would ever get to see his dad again. In Heaven.

      He said, “I have been bad all my life; I hurt my dad so much. Even though he provided a good home, I raised myself on the streets with gangs and drugs.”

      He’d been busted lots of times — this time he had gotten Life. My shift changed but I stayed and listened as you took him into the Bible you had. I thought, “what a number he was running on you.” Then you said words I have never heard before, “To be free in Jesus was to be free, indeed.”

      After a couple of hours you had prayer and had him pray. He asked God to help him find the way and to help him undo all the hurt he had done. Yeah, sure. Then a knock on the door to take him back to his cell.

      We again shackled him and he shuffled back to his cell. I walked you out to the gate and asked, “Do you really believe he can change?”

      You said, looking me in the eye, “Even you can change through Jesus.”

      I watched over the months that followed, R.A. coming out of his shell, reading and praying, and being nice to staff.

      I am not telling you all this because of him, but because of me. I had developed a drug habit, and along with my good pay as a guard I sold drugs to inmates. My habit cost me a wife and almost cost me a job.

      One day in the snack bar, I asked if you would meet me after work, you asked me where, and we met. I, too, met Jesus and had a life-changing experience. I put my life together and am now retired. No more drugs and a happy home.

      When they nick-named you two as The God Squad, I know why — because you really care. R.A. died in prison at 66, but I know he died a happy man. He also led a lot of men there to Christ. Sure is going to be neat when we all get together in Heaven.


      VOICE OF PROPHECY

      The show we did will be aired around the world the week of October 18-22 and I pray you all get to listen to it on your local station. For $5 you can get a copy of the five-day program from:

      Voice of Prophecy
      101 W. Cochran Street
      Simi Valley, CA 93065
      gospel@vop.com

      IN A VERY BAD PLACE

      A simple note to say Thank You for the Christian material you sent my brother in Texas. I want you to know he is in a very bad prison but has finally accepted Christ. This time it is for real. I know this because his anger for life is gone. He has always been through some real bad times in prison; he hasn’t blamed God this time. God bless you and your ministry.
      [Folks, his name is Tommy Holcom. Let’s pray for him.]


      MAY I SAY THANK YOU

      My name is Judy Corcoran and I listened to you and Yvonne several years ago on VOP. I was impressed at your statement about Christians dying in church, finding nothing to do for the Lord.

      Well, I contacted you and asked for two names. The first was George and I will admit he was smart, polite, and nothing like I expected. He was not a Christian, so I took your advice and let the Lord lead. He also had listened to the VOP show and was impressed to ask for a Bible study and got that and me. We both took Discover Bible Studies and learned together. We also have become very good friends and we write to each other’s parents.

      Tony was a different case. He was what I expected and made a pass at me right away. I Emailed you and took Yvonne’s advice and told him straight. Well, he continued to make passes, ask for money, until Don wrote him.

      Don reminded him where he was and asked where he was going. Told him he doubted he had many friends writing from home and if he wanted to keep me as a friend he better get his mind out of Playboy! I am happy to say it is now three years later and I now have three friends in prison, plus three families I am able to minister to. I will ask your readers with an open mind to get a Pen Friend, or if you are one of those who wrote, then quit, start again. I listened to Don again on the radio, talking about what it takes for Jesus to return is you and me.

      I am getting married in two weeks and my husband-to-be would like a couple of pen friends. [Yvonne and I are overjoyed at folks like this. Judy took the ministry a step farther and got involved with family members, which drew inmates and relatives together also. We’re also very happy Judy has found a husband who shares her joy in ministry.]


      I WAS SO MAD I COULD SPIT

      when I got a letter from you asking me if I would write the inmate assigned me. Then I had to stop and think. I had listened to the God Squad on radio and was impressed and sent a check. I received a name I had not asked for [our error]. I guess I threw it away. Whatever, I never did tell them I was not writing. I am impressed that they followed up and got me stirred up. I wrote and asked if they had the information they sent, and could I try.

      Well, that was ten years ago and I now have ten Pen Friends, complain about them all the time, but keep on keeping on. God knew what He was doing with one of them. This guy Pete, said, “You are not a Christian, are you?”

      The nerve!! I’ve been going to church all my life, but he was right. He told me that Don had told him to read the book of James and if he could not find himself, he would find the areas to work on. I’ve read James, a long time ago, read it again and I was missing! Now, thanks to a program I almost gave up on, I am a Christian. Last week my Pastor asked how many of us knew they were going to Heaven, and after I raised my hand, asked me how I knew.

      I told him an inmate in prison had gotten me doing what he never did — study the Word of God. Thanks for my connection and joining of the God Squad.

      [Thanks, Janet, we are proud and grateful you stuck with us.]


      IMPORTANT ODDS & ENDS

      All across the nation, prisons have made massive changes we can’t keep up with, but the following suggestions should work:

      Books: These must come from the Vendor or Book Store and must be softcover. Some prisons allow up to ten books, some less. It is best to write the Community Resource Director in care of your inmate’s address, and ask for the Prison Policy on sending anything. Include a stamped, self-addressed envelope.

      Dealing With Money: It is common for inmates to ask for money; believe me, they have little. You must decide on what you are able to handle, including nothing. Do not duck the issue — be open and honest with the request. It is easy to tell if all they want from you is stuff. Advise us and we will rematch you; don’t just stop writing. If you send money, send it to the Trust Account of your Pen Friend with his name and number + your name or pen name and our address for the return.

      After we finish the video, we can work on a computer program showing us what and how much they ask for. Make sure all correspondence to a prison or inmate has your name or Pen Name with our address as the return. Do not use Someone Cares on any mail to your Pen Friend.

      Writing after the inmate is released: Yes, Yes! J

      Packages: Several of you sent your friend a package either direct or through us. The inmate said he/she never received it. We spent massive amounts of time and money trying to trace it but could not. Make it a policy when sending a package to record the contents, when and how you sent it, so tracing can be done.

      Poetry: Inmates write neat poems and one day we’d like to publish a book of them. If you have any that apply to prison, we will publish them in the newsletter from time to time. Also brief testimonies.

      We also invite you to write us regarding your experience with our ministry, good OR bad; also any questions you would like us to answer.


      HAVE WE GOTTEN TOO BIG?

      I guess the answer has to be yes. Anything good in prison that works, spreads with little effort. An inmate gets a Pen Friend and shares it with another, the snow-ball effect. Also, we wish we could stop other ministries from advertising, as theirs, OUR Pen Friend Program. We have a stack of inmates’ requests almost two feet high. In time all will receive applications, and again, VOP and God’s grace will provide writers. If you have a special regard for Prison Ministry and might sponsor an ad in Christian magazines, they are a little expensive but would really help us.


      YVONNE’S CORNER

      I cannot tell you how good God really is. Thanks to many of you, prayers are answered. I have been so fortunate to be raised in a Godly home, and I have always had and still have, very positive role models surrounding me. That does not mean that I have not made mistakes, but know that God is always forgiving, no matter what the sin.

      We just received a letter from a very special Chaplain saying that he was teaching this study in prison, it just happens that Don and I have been studying the same book called “The Purpose Driven Life.” I would recommend it for all of you.

      Sometimes we need to stay on track and check ourselves; we have never quit studying. A lifetime of studying the Bible, and yet we will never understand it fully. Due to this study that the Chaplain is teaching, we received a request for another Pen Friend, so you can see how the Pen Friend program increases. If you have put off writing, but think you could write a letter once a month on your computer, try it. I know you will enjoy the blessings of sharing God’s word!


      JAKE’S CORNER

      [We are helping Jake write this corner. Jake, at ten, has seen his father go to prison.]

      My dad chose prison over responsibility and my mom. My mom lost a 15-year job, and a home I loved. She lost this because she moved a man in and he took over her life. My grandparents (you know them) allowed her to come and live with us; they already had me. Then Mom moved the loser who helped ruin her life down here and went back to her old lifestyle. She had a room here but did not come to see us often.

      The pressure my grandparents were under was bad. Boy, did we all pray! Grandpa told me of the power of Satan, and mom could not be helped unless she wanted to. She was raised in a Christian home, but turned her back on Jesus. I attend a Christian school, but it’s hard to keep my mind on things.

      [He gets good grades, but too often cries himself to sleep because his mom is not here. Often he tries to call the motel but they take the phone off the hook. Today, Yvonne took him to school and when she picked him up, had to tell him his mom had used him as an excuse not to go to work, and it may cost her another job because she lied to everyone. Yvonne and I ask all of you to send Jake a note. He needs to see the power of God’s love. He told us he prays, but is scared God will not listen because his mom is so bad, smoking and drinking and telling lots of lies. We told him a long time ago, “If you never lie, you don’t ever have to remember what you say.”]

      Jake says: “My grandparents are hoping mom comes home tonight and will listen, or for the second time, she is going to be faced with tough love. I’m not sure how to explain that. Love you all,

      Jake

      PRISON IS A PLACE

      Robert M. Reed “Incarcerated Mind”

      Prison is a Place where
      individuals deal with reality
      one second at a time,
      and men struggle to define
      who they are inside the maze
      of a corroded mind.

      Prison is a Place where
      your thoughts and actions often collide for superiority
      and you’re left with a consequence
      only death can solve.

      Prison is a Place where
      all men look into the face of God.
      Some challenge His rule;
      Some turn away;
      Some wonder who is actually looking at who, and
      Some fall to their knees
      and weep.

      Prison is a Place where
      you can go years
      without feeling,
      months without hearing a
      kind word and
      a lifetime without a friend.

      Prison is a Place
      where a smell can invoke a
      thousand memories
      a thought can trigger rage
      a simple glance can cause
      intimidation and
      a touch can melt the heart.

      Prison is a Place where
      you feel sorry for yourself
      then disgusted at yourself
      for feeling sorry for yourself;
      then you get mad for
      feeling disgusted and then
      try to mentally change the subject.

      Prison is a Place where
      you learn to cherish
      the small things:
      a letter, a phone call
      a visit, a song
      a smile, a breeze
      a good-bye

      Prison is a Place where
      you hope for the best,
      but expect the worst;
      so you will never be caught
      hoping at all.

      Prison is a Place where
      the weak are preyed upon;
      the strong are afforded honor,
      the evil are feared;
      the slick are avoided,
      and a Man –
      He stands on his own.

      Prison is a Place where
      anything can be purchased
      for a price, except:
      SANITY.

      Prison is a Place where
      shelter is free;
      three times a day you eat
      and clothing is provided.
      So, many come and many go
      but few become
      whole.

      _ JEAN’S JOTTINGS

      Whew! That poem may remind some of us of life on the “outside,” where we have similar feelings but we keep on keeping on despite our circumstances. And what a blessing Judy Corcoran is, to see that we can “die in church” if we’re not about the Lord’s work. He has put that restless desire in us so we don’t neglect our duty to love each other. These two have what it takes to persist in reaching the hearts of their Pen Friends.

      When we start out with a new inmate, keep your letters newsy. Some have been down a long time and forget how to act. Prison life is at survival level. It isn’t cool to bombard your new Pen Friend with “sermonettes” they can hear on their, or someone else’s radio. They need to start by knowing what’s going on in your world – cute things your pets did, what your family is like – real stuff that goes on in your town. One of the biggest culture shocks when they are released is the staggering price increase of everything!

      The long, lovely summer is winding down, here in the country, rose hips are ripening on the bushes and leaves have been turning color for quite some time.

      The long siege with the phones is resolved; no more spraying with Eau de Off, carrying a portable to the end of the house, opening the box and plugging in among whiny mosquitoes.

      The computer is out of the hospital, de-bugged, de-virused, a new modem, a new service provider with better SPAM filters, some upgrades and peripherals.

      Working in God’s service has become very exciting this year. In addition to helping Someone Cares, my music partner and I felt compelled to move to a sister church when death claimed their musician. Our brave Pastor’s wife has filled in, but has young children who need her, too.

      It’s so cool to watch God opening the windows of heaven and all the doors, too. He is rebuilding a congregation for Himself with a growing group of happy Christians pulling together.

      For instance, at the first planning meeting for our Evangelistic Series coming up, there were several needs, such as a working drinking fountain. It turned out that one of our members worked for a company that was installing new ones. Nothing wrong with the old, they just wanted a change. We received one of the very well-kept fountains! It’s all installed, refreshing those who use it.

      We needed a new projector and cart to do the slide program, and the money came in that evening!

      One of the members was moved to buy a gallon of cleaner from a door-to-door salesman. It’s doing a good job cleaning the carpet in the Fellowship Hall.

      The organ and piano are across the room from each other, which increased our stress, but the Pastor found the full-piano keyboard, from a former era, stashed in a closet, and it is up and running. Shirley and I sit side by side again, so we can coordinate our music and no one can throw us a curve; there’s a monitor to check our sound levels.

      It’s like being in one of the new churches in Paul’s day, when the gospel was rapidly spreading everywhere. If there’s a need, this group pulls together to meet it!

      The women have also united to form a study group that’s thriving – and these prayer warriors are recording answer after answer to their petitions in the prayer journal.

      It’s all about outreach, just as the Pen Friend ministry you’re all doing. God is an awesome coordinator, using our talents to the best advantage for His cause. It just doesn’t get any better on this planet!

      If you are thinking about a group like this for your church, there is one vital, cornerstone rule that MUST NOT BE VIOLATED: What’s said in confidence stays in the meeting. No exceptions!!! Women bonded in Christ enjoy a powerful, exciting ministry together, built on respect and trust.

      Onward and Upward!

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