Starts with knowing Grace is (G)od’s (R)iches (A)t (C)hrist’s) (E)xpense. My name is Paul, 36 years old, and I spent 12 years in prison for a killing while very drunk. During those twelve years I lost my family, home and all my friends. The only good thing about prison is I met Jesus, and His grace saved me from killing myself.
I also gave up my pity party and brought some order into my life. When I got my head together, I tried to plan for when I got out. I had been a skilled computer person and thought this would bring me a good job right away. Being an inmate in California meant I had to Parole to the county of commitment, not were I was from. I got little sleep my last night in prison and prayed a lot.
Through Someone Cares I received dress-out (clothes to wear) and they were really nice. I had been able to save $347 and was given another $100 at the gate. $447, no home, no job, no friends. I would receive another $100.00 when I report-ed to my Parole Officer. I was driven to the bus station and set free. I arrived in Modesto around 5.30 in the morning. Now it all hit me: massive fear!
I went to a diner and got my first meal as a free person, shocked at the prices. I got a paper and marked places to start looking for a job. After my third cup of coffee, a man approached me and said, “You just get out of prison?” I did not want to answer, but did. He introduced himself. His name was Bob. He had been out of prison for six years and often came to this diner for breakfast, and to help men when he could. Thank You, Jesus!
First he took me to a boarding house and got me a room. The owner would let me use the phone to look for work. I found a job that day in a car wash. Yvonne had told me, “Let God lead, but whatever the job, take it until something better comes along.”
At lunch time I opened a bank account. The lady who helped me told me of a company looking for computer programmers. I often think about John Newton, who wrote Amazing Grace, a convict ready to die. There are good days and bad but God has me in His will.
THANK YOU LORD
My name is Sam. I spent 21 of my 39 years locked up for some kind of crime. I never hurt anyone but myself. I never finished school and all the time I was locked up, I did nothing to better myself. With about two years to parole, I got involved
with a letter writing ministry [not ours]. My friend was the Pastor’s wife of a small Black church in the South. To you reading this, that was all I had. Family and friends were all gone.
I’d been raised to take and hate. I attempted to use these people, but they, in turn, stuck it out. I got spanked by mail many a time until their love turned me to Jesus. They had me go to the cross and replace one who hung next to Jesus and was forgiven. I was set free. To be free in Jesus is to be free, indeed.
I was granted Parole and buried in regret. I was released with no money except $50 gate money, a bus ticket, and some clothes. I sold the bus ticket and hitch-hiked to another state (a parole violation). I was picked up and returned to prison. Then I got involved with you guys. I still had my other friends, but this time got Christian smart instead of Prison wise. I have finished high school just in time, as they will soon no longer have it available. So I thank you and I thank YOU, Lord, for saving my soul.
WHEN WE ALL GET TO HEAVEN.
I hope we can meet the Kahrs’ whole family in the next newsletter. We will tell you some of the experiences they had being involved with Someone Cares, both good and bad. Please add them now to your prayer lists, as they really need it. They followed their hearts and broke some of our rules and paid a price. Their daughter, Susan, has sent the story to us and is having it published, but I am asking her to shorten it for us. I will tell you one part, as it was a mountaintop experience to us.
We matched them with a man to whom one of their children and Susan wrote. I put on a Prison Ministry Program in a church not too far from them. I was shocked when, during the program, a commotion stopped me cold. They brought their released friend to the church. We are not often blessed to meet inmates who have been part of our ministry. In the next newsletter I will tell you about this one.
In the following I will tell you about Ken White. Will John and Ken get to Heaven? We know we will meet the Kahrs there.
The rest of the story is, when my mom stopped crying, she called my grandparents. They wanted to know how they could help, and my mom said that there wasn’t much they could do. Knowing my grandfather, he made a few phone calls and got my dad out of jail in a flash. He was back home the next morning and then my mom asked, “What did you do?”
He said he got in some bad stuff.
My mom said “Yeah, I know that, but what kind of stuff?”
There was silence in the room for a long time. My dad slowly got into bed and fell asleep very fast. I knew he did not want to answer my mom’s question while I was around. He did not go to work for some time. Things were ok, but it was weird having him home all day. All he did was sleep and get up to get some food and go to the bathroom. He was not his normal self. He did not go to church for a long time, he told me he was O.K. and doing good, but something just did not seem right.
My mom did everything she could to get him straight and back to work. I thought he would never go back, but my mom needed help getting me to school because he would get friends to come over and party with him. Life was so bad I started getting in trouble more often. Then one day me and my mom were riding bikes together and a car came, and I was about to get hit so I cut in front of my mom and my back tire clipped her front tire and she fell and broke her leg.
My bike was messed up and she told me to go get Ted, our neighbor, so I ran as fast as I could. He answered the door and I said, “My mom is badly hurt.”
We jumped in his truck and I was scared. He called the ambulance and they took her to the hospital. Then later on she had five surgeries. My grandmother was there to help me and my mom. That is all that I am going to tell you this time. Please continue praying for my parents. Thank you.
[Every word is Jake’s and he is only nine.]
I’M SO GLAD I’M A PART...
Of the family of God. When I first got involved with Someone Cares after hearing Don & Yvonne, it was as a donor. Then I got bit and became a letter writer. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would go to prison myself.
I was matched with a lady who really touched my heart. She was a mother of four who got addicted to pain medication after a serious fall. This addic-tion led to drugs, debt, and cashing checks to feed her habit. Her husband turned her in and had Social Services take the kids. She got three years. I soon learned how fearful prison can be.
My first visit was really neat, I thought. But codes in prison get a little confusing. She happened to be Black; I’m White. Black inmates jumped her for visiting with me. This took awhile to get gone but it did.
Being from a middle-class family, I never knew about the other side of racism. I learned a lot from Janice and she from me. She grew up in a Holiness Church and I as a Seventh-day Adventist. When we talked religion it was like there were two different Gods. About that time Don spoke at our church about “Don’t let your doctrine be a barrier, but a bridge to Jesus.”
Then I, a college graduate and Janice, a grammar school dropout, took on the Word. As a member of a church all my life, I soon learned why Jesus so often made reference to a baby. Janice enrolled in school, something she could not do now as these programs are being cut . I dressed up to go to prison and learned to dress casually to make Janice comfortable. Yvonne taught me to try to get down as much as I could to her level, not bring her up to mine. I was able to pick Janice up upon her release, and through several churches we got her clothes and a place to stay, and soon a job. She visits my church, I visit hers, and God blesses us both. I’m glad I’m Someone who Cares.
When Don and I were asked to train Volunteers for Prison, I said I didn’t know how; but of course my husband said we would be happy to. So I decided to study up on the subject, and talk to some of the prison Chaplains and prison Officials. The first thing I learned was not to dress as if I were going to church or a wedding. Wear casual clothing, dress slacks, loose fitting, with blouse and a sports jacket. That way you fit in with others who are working there.
Always wear casual, comfortable shoes. This isn’t just for Volunteers, but also if you visit someone in prison. You want them to be comfortable when they are around you, yet you want the staff to be comfortable also, Prison is the last place you want to be over-dressed! Keep it simple and loose, Saint. Just keep in mind that you are there to tell them of Jesus through what you say and what you do, so you do not want to bring any attention to yourself. The saying they have in prison is, “If you talk the talk you had better walk the walk!” That is so true, I call it my reality check, and there are a few more things on it, but I always try to keep in mind that I want to be a humble example, caring and loving the Agape way, as God would have us be.
I would like to encourage more of you to visit, maybe once a year, or once a month depending on the distance, and let us know how you liked it. You will never know what a visit means to one who is locked down, or for that matter, a letter. Please share your experiences with church or us and we’ll share them with our readers. We know a few of you will go into prison, but always remember that prison ministry, as any ministry, is a mind set.
Since we do all with the Joy of Prayer, as we have need for God’s intervention, we ask again for prayer. Jake’s mom is coming to live with us, and with your prayers and the warmth of Heavenly Sunshine, God will again turn Ronna in the right direction. Her husband is in prison, she’s been very unfairly fired from a job she had for 15 years, made a very poor choice in a relationship, in addition to a broken leg, losing her home and her car. She has hit bottom, so now we can say Bound for The Top. She is ever on her way. She will get a job, helping with Jake and Someone Cares.
Thanks, friends, you are needed. Now we again need a good used car, tax deductible, but for her.
SHOWERS OF BLESSINGS
Our names are Stanley and Ruth Smythe and we are from California where we heard you speak. We became a Faith Partner and enjoyed your newsletter.
About ten years ago our son was sent to prison, charged with child molesting. We were so ashamed we thought more about our shame than his problem. We turned our back on our own son! We never wrote or visited and soon he quit writing.
It was several years later we found out one of our friends got in touch with you. Tommy was at the prison you worked in. We found out you had him enrolled in a program and also in a Bible study. Both you and Yvonne worked with him.
We went to the prison and attempted to visit but were refused as we were not on his visiting list. We then contacted you several weeks later only to find out he had been transfer-red. You then informed us that you believed Tommy was not guilty of the charge he went to prison for. But you also told us that if we wanted to visit, to be ready to accept the fact that he was gay. Another shock but now we were ready to handle it.
You told us that he was studying the Bible and that you thought sooner or later he would change, but accept him as he is. Tom is out of prison--has been for 15 months. He lives with his brother and wife, goes to church and is not a practicing homosexual.
He said in God’s time all will be well and so will he. We now know again why you are called Someone cares.
[This was sent to us a while back. Tom called over Christmas to tell me he was no longer Gay and was dating a nice woman who knew all about him. Please pray for him.]
KEEP ON KEEPING ON
We wish all of the things involved with Someone Cares were easy. The joy we get as a result of Paper Sunshine are truly a blessing. But–there are problems.
The main problem is men in prison, away from women, getting attached or thinking they are. If your friend does anything you don’t like, tell him. If you tell him and he continues, tell us.
Also, for some reason, we cannot get across that you are writing your Pen Friend, not Someone Cares, or Grandma, Betty, Bob etc. Don’t put “Someone Cares” anywhere on the envelope addressed to your inmate.
STEP 1: Put your name or Pen name on the return address area of the envelope. Complete the return address with our P.O. Box, City, State and Zip Code, then put your inmate’s address in the proper place on that envelope, put proper postage on it, and insert the letter you’re sending. Set it aside.
STEP 2: Address the outer envelope going to Someone Cares, with your proper name or pen name (make sure you’ve notified us of your Pen Name if you have one) in the return area, and your own address, of course. Address the main portion of the envelope to Someone Cares and our P.O. Box address.
STEP 3: Place your inmate’s envelope, unsealed, inside the Someone Cares envelope, with proper postage on both, and seal the Someone Cares envelope.
Yesterday we received a package going to an inmate, from whom we know not. The contents are not allowed and we know not were to return it. Also, the postage getting it here was fine, but there was no postage to send it on.
We have mail we don’t know were it goes. To Lee Palmer; Rosie Mydam; Kim Bellanger; Lynn Combs; Agnes Daugherty; Karen & Guy; Steve McKelvy; Desiree Varamillo; Letty & Len Marina; Kattie & Abbie; Donald; Denise; Brother A K Zajac; and Jackie White. Please claim this mail.
If you are writing to a female, please ask her if she has female inmate friends that would like a Pen Friend, and forward their name, number and address.
VOICE OF PROPHECY
From March 29 through April 3, we will be broadcasting on VOP. It will be on every day in your area, check time and listing. We thank all at VOP. Twice a year they either help us catch up, or make us work harder, which we need to do.
TRUCKER FOR CHRIST
A few years ago a truck driver started writng an inmate. He is a long hauler, so he started visiting the inmate he wrote. The inmate was released a born again Christian and the trucker picked him up, got him a place to stay and a job God Bless you, Art, and yes, a new name is on the way.
Next month: Lifers for Christ and Clowns for Christ.
Doesn’t it just warm your hearts to read the of wonderful things our Lord can accomplish when people become prisoners? Their confinement seems to make time for them to stop and listen to what He’s trying to tell them. It’s important for us on the outside to do our part by writing, visiting, and getting our churches involved with Dress-out Programs, keeping track of vacant rooms and apartments, job opportunities, etc. You do the work, God will supply the high when we please Him! J