A FEW ODDS AND ENDS:
First, my eye surgery was very successful; as God’s word says, blind eyes see. Also, my birthday came as usual and I am another year older—as old as my tongue and a little older than my teeth. J We thank you for all your prayers and cards.
POWER OF PRAYER
Lonnie Melashenko and I had prayer regarding my surgery and he had the staff of Voice Of Prophecy add their voices. Lonnie and I talked about a vitally important phase of this ministry that happened by accident, but we believe it is providential guidance. In the last radio show, I mentioned God’s will to grant prayer.
We shared how men and women in prison learned to give their problems to God and let go. The Holy Spirit led almost 250 of you who by phone, mail and E-mail, asked for prayer. A prison warden, a doctor, several teachers, many truck drivers and loads of folks on line were represented. I sent these requests on, and we added each to our prayer list. As we prayed for each, a warm glow came over this ministry. The amazing thing is that 25 of these folks were not Christians or any other religion! The Joy Of The Lord!!
From a Judge: ”I listened to your program because of a bump in the road. I was driving to work, hit a bump and my radio station changed.”
(Thank You, Jesus.)
“I was amazed, listening to the injustice of the Justice System. It made me really think of the power I was given. It also made me think of both my Mom and Dad, now gone. I had not prayed in a very long time. Pressure of my job had cost me a marriage and I was drinking too much. I made up my mind to pray sometime.
“I got to my office, got a cup of coffee and sat to read the day’s calender, lying next to a Bible I had not touched in years. I thought of the witnesses who swore on this prior to testifying. I told my secretary to hold my calls for a bit and asked God for direction in my life. I listened to the other four days of your program and now have only Voice of Prophecy on my car radio.”
Yvonne and I can assure you all that with daily prayer the job will get done by the Power of God. It is God’s direction that keeps this ministry going and growing.
HELP US HELP GOD IN HELPING YOU
The interest in getting involved in prison ministry is
really growing. Invitations to speak are also increasing, leading us to get an instructional video produced, hopefully locally. Since we are a non-profit organization, we need to raise the funds. We have done some checking and feel that with a 90-minute video, we can cover all this ministry has been able to do over the years.
We can assure all of you that we made many mis-takes, with little guidance, as there were no models to go by.
There were several ways to develop a program that suited our situation:
1 .The very first thing we had to do was develop programs that reach out to all, one-to-one. The Pen Friend Program does that well.
2. One-to-one and Two-Care visitation is another great ministry. We can use the material we got from the M2 Program in California. This can go hand-in-hand with remedial reading, so vital with the incredible illiteracy level in prisons today. Laubach has an excellent literacy program. So many men and women are “passed through” school and cannot read or write when they graduate.
3. With the massive overcrowding in prison today, there is little for inmates to do. When Yvonne and I go into prison it is not to preach or teach, but reach those who will not go to Chapel. By being Christian and claiming God’s Word, we learned to lead.
Unless the inmate truly learns to receive and believe, they don’t stand a chance. Today’s prisons reject rehabilitation. Men and women need regeneration! Self-respect is often totally lost in prison. It does not take much to teach them to regain it.
I listened to Yvonne talking about a women’s prison that would not provide sanitary items. She appealed to local churches, who provided much-needed supplies to these women. The respect and appreciation generated by the gifts from the church women to their sisters in need was truly heartwarming.
4. When we started the Dress-out program in California, Chapel attendance grew! The Dress-out program provides inmates with quality used clothing, free, upon release. There is a code in prison—do something good, inmates are honor bound to repay. Even though they were not required to attend Chapel, many an inmate met Jesus through a pair of pants or a shirt.
5. One of the greatest programs is Cell Ministry, and takes a special person with special training. Cell Ministry is where you visit inmates through their doors or bars; where you take items allowed such as pens or pencils, paper and envelopes, books and Bibles.
6. Many churches used to have jail bands were we went in and sang, either in the yard so the inmates could hear, or in the cell block were they can see or hear.
Programs that require entrance to the prison are gradually being cut out altogether. Many programs are stopped because of religion! The purpose of leading men and women to Christ is Jesus himself, not your church. A surprising fact is that most churches want nothing to do with those who have been in prison! I remember when I was just a babe in Christ, our pastor asked me to give my testimony. I really did not want to, but gave in. I told of my past, as bad as it was. I told of my times being locked up—all of them. I told of my use of drugs and drinking.
As a babe in Christ I had joined a church, done what-ever job asked, was Youth Leader and several other jobs. I think I was really liked by most, before I gave my testimony. Afterward, it seemed like no one wanted anything to do with us. Yvonne’s father had been the pastor of that church.
I see why folks not raised in the church often leave it. If ever asked to do anything in the name of Jesus, say “I’ll be happy to.”
It is much easier to preach in prison where salvation means everything, including freedom. Too often, in our churches, we have listened to the messages too long. We know Daniel gets out of the lions’ den; we know Jonah gets out of the whale’s belly; we forget that when three went into the fire, a fourth joined. them!
I am reminded often of a story once told. A teacher, not a Christian, was telling her class of youngsters that the parting of the Red Sea was not a miracle, as it was only six inches deep. A little boy stood and said, “Teacher, if you are right, then it is even a bigger miracle, ‘cause all those soldiers and horses died in six inches of water!”
We ask those of you who would like to, please help us produce an educational video about prison ministry programs your small group or church could do. Your special donation to be used to get this vital work underway will be greatly appreciated.
STRANGE BUT TRUE
My name is Stephen and I am the pastor of a church. I was approached by some church members wanting help in getting a prison or jail ministry started. I told them that their efforts would be better served elsewhere. My reason? I didn’t have any idea what to do. I tried once to visit an inmate and just could not do it. I forgot about it and thought it went away.
Well it did not. A group of seven got hold of you and Yvonne and you matched them to write inmates close by here. Each of the seven wrote, then visited; two started Bible studies in prison. They added five more. Three of these five visited twice a month.
Finally they asked for a meeting and told me what they were doing. They requested prayer to help them grow even more. I was embarrassed. I gave permission for several of them to share, and ask for prayer from the church. I was both blessed and shocked!
More members wanted to get involved and others wanted me lynched for allowing this to even start! One had told me they listened to you, at a church where you’d preached, where someone said, “We don’t want those kinds of people in our church!”
I went into prayer and God’s word and then called you. We now have an active prison ministry, five new church members, and we lost several.
Please send two names for my wife and me, and thanks for taking my blinders off.
THINKING OF YOU
Have you ever been just sitting there and all of a sud-den you feel like doing some-thing nice for someone you care for?
THAT’S GOD talking to you through the Holy Spirit.
Have you ever been down and out and nobody seems to be around for you to talk to?
THAT’S GOD wanting you to talk to Him.
Have you ever been thinking about somebody that you haven’t seen in a long time and then next thing you know you see them or receive a phone call from them?
THAT’S GOD. There is no such thing as coincidence.
Have you ever received something wonderful that you didn’t even ask for, like money in the mail, a debt that had mysteriously been cleared, or a coupon to a department store where you had just seen something you needed, but couldn’t afford?
THAT’S GOD, knowing the desires of your heart.
Have you ever been in a situation and you had no clue how it was going to get better, how the hurting would stop, how the pain would ease, but now you can look back, seeing the outcome in perspective?
THAT’S GOD, passing us through tribulation to see a brighter day.
With summer in the air and flowers in blossom, we all have a tendency to plan outdoor activities and vacations, which is all good!! It’s easy in the fast-paced life we live to forget about our Pen Friends, or even maybe visiting them. There are many inmates, both men and women, who have never had a visit. When Don and I went cell to cell, many inmates would ask me if I had been to the visiting room, and what did it look like. Now, that is lonely!
Another wonderful ministry is just going to the waiting room and being friendly to inmates’ families while they wait to be called, processed, and allowed into the visiting room. If you find yourself busy this summer, send a post card with a picture on it. Your inmates love seeing things from the outside; but whatever you do, please continue to stay in touch with them. Remember, they already feel forgotten. As Christians, we want them to know we care.
I just want to thank each of you who wrote Billy Boggs; he now knows there are people who care. May God richly bless each of you.
DO WE OR DON’T WE?
“At one time I was writing in-mates. First they started asking for stamps, then money. Evi-dently letters and prayers were not enough.”
Being in a ministry like ours does have limits and problems. We do not pick and choose who we allow to apply. We do not hand-pick so our supporters get the better inmates, because we don’t know. This is called Pen Friend, as friendship is neat. There are men and women in life and in prison who are nothing but takers, and we have to try to change that. But being open and honest is the best. Honesty in prison is not often apparent. Here is an example:
Jim, in your last letter you asked for money and I just cannot afford to send it. I pray this is not why you joined Someone Cares.”
Jim never answered and we rematched his friend. Life in prison is very hard and many just do not adjust. We plead with you not to give up. We have lots of inmates, but only one of you. If any of you have problems, let us know – especially if you were able to handle it and how. Thanks.
When we add many new Pen Friends, we often run into a problem. You decide to use a Pen Name and neglect to tell us. Or someone’s handweiting is bad and we cannot decipher. We have undeliverable mail to the following: Rebecca B. ... Bob Cutter ... Ann Goodard ... Shirley Hersey ... Kathy from C. Brown ... Marienne from C Logan ... Mike Moore ... E. Oliverra ... Lee Palmer ... Gab Pina ... Lori R ... Ruth Reynolds ... Tony Sasso ... D. Varmillo ... Jacki White ... Bonnie Woods ... Towanda Woods ... K Zajac ... Leah Daniels ... Gil Garth.
Please claim your mail, or tell us where to direct it.
SOME HABITS ARE HARD
We get a letter and answer it as soon as we can. We ask you to write once a month even if you don’t get an answer. All over the United States, prisons are having riots. Riots mean lock-downs, confinement to cells, lack of privileges and yard time for long periods.
The term “Kite” is a letter written to another inmate and “flown” to them with help from others. Often, the inmate is in special housing where he/she loses their property and can’t write. This is a time when Paper Sunshine is really needed to light up their lives.
Over the next few months I will share about when I was not a Christian, did not believe in God, and went to prison. I was tough and did not let the system get to me. But often, when I was sure I was alone, I was in deep despair. You learn to count cracks, to do all forms of exercise, to talk in code by pounding on walls or pipes. I even trained a mouse. Each minute built a little more hate. I never got mail or visits, as none of my friends or family knew where I was.
I did not believe in God, so Satan ran my thinking even though I did not know it. Food was a joke – often cold sandwiches, meat or cheese between slices of dry bread.
...to be continued
Computers have always amazed me. Mine seems to have a secret life of its own, plotting among the hard drives and coding. I’ve never truly believed it’s so dumb that it placidly awaits my touch on its keys. Oh, no. It hatches diabolical plots to frustrate any effort at producing a news-letter. I think it has made secret friends with the E-Spam, who bring along their uninvited riff-raff relatives every day. It’s such a waste of time having to delete them.
On the bright side, it’s so exciting to have Don and Yvonne planning a video about Someone Cares. There are so many things to cram into one production, but God will guide them in this endeavor. It’s a LOT of hard work they’re facing.
Someone has to put together a production budget to know how much funding is needed.
They have to gather stories and put them all in a row for the audience to appreciate the plight of the inmates, how the ministry helps them and the prison staff. There are questions to be asked and answered so new Pen Friends can help those to whom they write.
There are scripts to write, facilities, crews, lighting, sets to arrange for. The script has to be recorded for the teleprompter, so whoever seems to be just talking is actually reading the script on a plexiglass plate in front of the camera. Another computer has a list of the people’s names and IDs entered to show who is speaking. For instance,
Someone Cares Prison Ministry
When the filming is finished, the editing begins, choosing just the right camera shot and including any sound level adjustment, any music, and all the little tweaks it takes to move the audience. Finally, the credits are added, and the distribution of the film begins.
It’s certainly an exciting time for such a venture. This kind of outreach has been needed for a long time. I’m confident God will open all the right doors.