FEATURED IN YVONNE'S CORNER IS WHAT THIS MINISTRY IS ALL ABOUT. WE ARE GOING TO GIVE ALL OF YOU AN UPDATE ON THE PROGRESS OF THIS MAN'S JOURNEY INTO THE FAMILY OF GOD.
Dear Don & Yvonne: Hi, I hope this short note finds you and the ones you love in good health and in good spirits. You don't know me, so let me explain who I am and why I'm writing to you. I'm an inmate in the Federal Prison System. When I first was here I moved into a cell with a mattress, blanket and a Bible. I never picked up the Bible for a month or so but when I did, a piece of paper fell out. it had Someone Cares, with your name and address. I've kept that same Bible with your address for almost two years now. I have started this letter four or five times and have not finished it yet. I will probably trash this one, too, if I take the time to read it when I am done.
You see, I am at a point in my life where I have no one left that does care, and sometimes when I'm down I don't care for myself any more, or I didn't think I did until I decided to write you. I guess I need to know there might be someone out there that does care.
I am a 47-year-old man who just started doing a 15-year sentence. In the two years before I got this time I had lost most of my family to various illnesses. Well, I lost the ones that cared! I have no one left!
I guess this letter s an attempt to find something to hang onto. Something to keep me from losing what little sanity I still have. I'm going to put this in the mail so I don't trash it. If you know of anyone who does care about someone like me, please write or have them write. I need something to hang onto.
[Someone Cares is devoted to trying to reach all we can through Paper Sunshine. We will give you a report and if you want to send a note of encouragement, we will forward it to him...Don & Yvonne]
[I know our readers care, that's why you're all still supporting this wonderful ministry. As soon as you read this, write a card, note card, or a short letter to let Billy know God loves him and so do we. Sign your first name and perhaps the state on the card, and just write "Billy" on the envelope where the address starts. Don & Yvonne, I hope you have a box ready for this outpouring of agape love!
BACK ON THE MOUNTAIN TOP
We wish to welcome all the new God Squad mem-bers who joined us through the Voice of Prophecy Radio Program. Many do not know that VOP is the oldest Christian radio broadcast in the nation. For five days, Someone Cares was beamed around the world.
We have been doing this twice a year for a long time. This time it was different in many ways. You came our way by phone, Email, and letters. The difference this time was the immense number of prayer requests we received and offered upward.
The average age of the caller was much younger, and the degree of wanting to help much larger. We had a mail tub full of inmate names, and matched almost 600 so far. In addition, many new names were entered by friends and relatives of those who needed contact-ing. We gratefully received offers from those who wish-ed to become financial supporters, which took some of the pressure off our fund- raising needs. God is so very good and we can see this very clearly whenever we reach the mountain top.
A NOTE TO PASTORS
A common remark from all of you was: My Pastor/ our church does not even talk about the subjects you covered for five days.
So many of you were looking for a way to serve God and no one offered prison ministry chatting about drugs and alcohol, mental and physical abuse. We are going to use the funds sent to go toward providing a video program of what we do and how we do it, and why it has lasted so long. We pray that pastors will call and want to get their churches connected with The God Squad and Someone Cares.
THE PEN FRIEND PACKET
...contains an application from an inmate, plus the do's and don't's of writing. This has been sent out to Pen Friends. Read these instructions carefully and write your first letter to your inmate.
If you feel, after praying about it, that this program is just not for you, please return the packet to us intact so we can match that inmate with a different Pen Friend.
If you are married and are matched with an inmate of the opposite gender, be sure your
spouse is aware and willing to participate with you. If you are a young person, please get your parents' permission. This has been a problem in the past and has cost us many hours of extra work.
Keep a log of when you wrote and what you chatted about. Please remember, it is YOU writing, not Someone Cares. Leave "Someone Cares" off your envelopes to inmates.
MARY FROM TEXAS CALLED
Her 18-year-old went to prison last month for six years. His crime: he and a friend were on the way to a party. The friend asked him to stop at a mall to get some smokes. His friend went in and robbed the place. Several blocks away they were stopped and arrested. Even though the friend confessed and said her son had nothing to do with the crime, he's in prison and we have matched him with a Pen Friend.
BARBARA FROM FLORIDA
...has a daughter who was acting a little strange temper tantrums, mood swings, lack of appetite and late nights. When confronted, she did admit to the use of drugs. Then Barbara called her pastor and got little help or direction.
She should have called police for direction or correction, but before she could do anything, the girl was arrested for possession of drugs for sale, convicted, and sent to Juvenile for two years. She is doing very well now, thanks to an advanced program in place at the facility where she was sent.
JIM CALLED FROM CALIF.
His son was shot and killed in a robbery. Jim and his wife had split up because of his drinking problem. The mother could not control the boy and had nowhere to turn. The boy had joined a gang, the only family he had. Jim is now a member of AA and wants to help. We will let him help us to try to help himself.
GEORGE FROM NEW YORK EMAILED US
He wanted help in getting his small church involved, and we matched all 33 members!
Some time this summer, we plan on going to New York to put on a program. We will try to get many more churches involved.
This pastor told me that while he was in school learning to be a pastor, he had not received training on any of the problems facing today's churches. I told him that ten percent of his mem-bership were on drugs of some kind, at least one was in an abusive relationship, and gave him the names of several organizations to hook up with.
EVERY TIME WE HAVE THIS BLESSING...
Satan sticks his nasty head in the way. Often folks who are having problems of their own offer to help. When the Pen Friend information package arrives, they think they're not ready, or feel they are not qualified. They procrastinate, do nothing with the package, don't return it to us for a new matching. Several months down the line, we discover that they never wrote. In most cases they've lost the papers, and an inmate has been left sitting in a cell somewhere after reaching out for help, believing he or she is rejected again.
Many of you receiving this newsletter have a "p" or "w" on the address label. The "p" tells us you were a Pen Friend, the "w" the same, but more recent. If there are () around the letter, we sent a questionnaire asking if you were still, or ever were, a Pen Friend.
BOY, I WAS SURE MAD AT YOU!
I had tried to get a Pen Pal through churches, through a dozen prison ministries. I wrote Dobson and they referred me to you.
Bingo! You sent me an application and Pen Friend sounded better than Pen Pal. I got a letter and was so excited and happy. I went to dinner and was on my way back to my cell and was stabbed by another inmate. I ended up in a hospital and my property held. I never was able to write the first letter. [We recommend to write three times then we will match you with someone else.]
He finally got back in touch with us and we contacted the person who did write. They were discouraged that they never received an answer and quit. We got everyone back together and all is well.
HE IS SO GOOD TO ME
Yvonne, when you spoke at our group and I made a commitment to write an inmate, I never knew what I was getting into. It was around 1981 when Don sent me my first inmate. It was several months ago when you sent me my 100th Pen Friend.
I have written, and you handled, very bad men with very bad things on their minds. I have written to those who were just looking for money; several were mentally unbalanced, but I kept on learning. Of those 100, for those reasons, I weeded out 29; 28 were released; one was executed; one died of old age, leaving me with 41.
My problem was, my eyesight is getting really bad and I thought I was going to have to quit. I talked to my pastor, he talked to the church, and all is well. Thanks. Grandma Collins
WHAT A SURPRISE!
I was driving down 101 in California and the station I was listening to changed to VOP. To my surprise, there you were, Don, as High on Jesus as you were when I first heard you at Soledad.
Of course, I was an inmate heading to Hell in a handbasket. You followed me to Kentucky; I lost track of you when you moved to Kentucky, but you were always in my prayers.
A reminder: I was in prison, my second time for child molesting. The Chap-lain at North got us together and you told me Jesus could clean me up and make me new. All the doctors told me I would be a pedophile forever.
Let me tell you, friend, I have been out of prison and in a church for six years. I have never come close to re-offending. Thank God for Someone Cares, as without you I would still be nothing but a number in prison somewhere. Now I am a name in the Book of Life.
AN UNSIGNED LETTER
You are a real Jerk. I listened to you on the radio and there was a smile in your voice when you said you had children writing to child molesters. Leading them to Christ!!!
These kinds of people need to be tortured or killed. Christ will never forgive them.
[I received several similar phone calls. The children we may match are children of professionals who help all the way. Both we, and the parents, monitor all the letters.]
WE PRAY FOR SHOWERS OF BLESSINGS
We have been a Non-Profit Organization for the last 25 years, and many of you have supported this ministry. We have worn out three donated cars and need a good used one. Your financial support has not just kept us going, it keeps us growing, so whether you are new to this ministry or have been with us awhile, if God has blessed you, please pass it on. If times are tough for you, your prayer support will do the trick. We, as always, are good stewards of your donations, small or large.
I remember, a long time ago when we lived in Aptos, we got a call to go to San Quentin and, as always, if asked to do anything in the name of Jesus, we said "sure." We had a tank full of gas and no money. Yvonne said, "What about the bridges?" (Golden Gate.) We scrounged around and got enough pennies to make it. When we got back, on fumes, there was a money order for $200 in the mail! We never found out who sent it, but God knows.
JAKE'S CORNER will be back next month.
Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow! He not only created bright colors to lift our dreary spirits in cloudy Michigan, He put them in the variety of flowers that just can't stand it any more until they throw back the late snow to bloom in a wild array of enthusiasm.
He gave us such love that He can forgive not only the thief on the next cross, but those who killed Him. He has promised that nothing is impossible with Him; that what He begins in us, He will finish.
He didn't promise us a rose garden, only to walk with us through the thorns. (He's actually given me some in the form of wild blackberries in the back yard so sweet that I must watch carefully to get a taste before the birds take them all.)
He hasn't promised we'd never be hungry, only that our food and water will be sure. He has a soft spot in His heart for inmates and passed it on to us to carry on as Pen Friends and Volunteers inside the walls or in the chapels of our prison systems.
He has given us direction, inspiration, guidance, and a path to travel. It is our turn to pass that on to the inmates to whom we serve the communion of Jesus' love, even if it's the "washing of feet" in the River of Life, the "bread of the Word," and the "wine" of a paper visit with Jesus' forgiveness included, through us.