Quietly Changing Lives
...Was really another mountain top experience for Yvonne and me and the ministry God Provides. The show that brought so many of you to The God Squad was shown around the world. Our first of many Emails was from China!
We wish to thank Dan Shelton and the staff of 3 ABN for providing this opportunity to share the word of God via TV. This also opens a door for Someone Cares and answers a question many of you ask. Can we come to your Church? Yes, through this Video. Send a check for $14.00 to 3ABN Box 220; West Frankfort, Il 62896 asking for the February 22nd broadcast of Someone Cares. Many plan to show the Video and recruit Pen Friends, prayer Partners, and maybe even Faith Partners with a love offering.
PEN FRIEND BY COMPUTER
We had already tried this with some Canadian friends and what a door has been opened! It is quicker to Email us; we then print and mail your letters. Of course the inmate writes you back. A little more work for us but God takes care.
GOD’S ANGELS ON THE MAIN LINE
As many of you watched, so did inmates in prison. This is a true joy for us to see Christian TV in prison.
“My name is Chuck and I don’t have a TV and I’m not a Christian. The inmate next to me left his set on when he left his cell. I have been down a long time without a visit or mail. I’m using the last stamp I have to send this off to you. I have tried everything else and failed. Please help me.” Done!
“I’m on Death Row and was just moved into this cell. The last resident was executed. His last request was to give his TV to the next person who gets this cell, me. The very first program I got was yours and I sure would like a piece of the action. I started to study the Bible in jail during my trial, but do not understand it a lot. Is there someone who can write me?” Yes! Done!
“A group of us gather in the Chapel and watch Christian videos provided by Someone Cares. The Chapel just got cable and we watched you all on TV. We are sending you the names of 6 brothers who are pretty lonely and we pray you can provide the with a pen Friend.” Done!
Judy writes: “I was shocked to see you and Yvonne on TV. Somehow we lost touch and it is a true blessing to have you, and God’s Ministry through you, back in my life. Please send me 6 new Pen friends; all mine are now gone. This time I will write through you.” (We received many calls, Emails and letters from old friends, a real blessing.)
George writes: “I was an inmate at San Quentin. I was looking at spending the rest of my life here, or some other prison. I chose not to and attempted to kill myself. This was another failure in my life. I ended up in the hospital with you, Don, at my bedside. I still see why you guys are called Someone Cares. You told me of what lay ahead if I killed myself and what lay ahead if I put my hand in the hand of the Man who stilled the water.
You told me that on Calvary Jesus died so all my sin would, not could, be forgiven. We prayed a "sinners prayer" and Jesus moved in. We kept in touch until you guys went to Kentucky and I was sent to another prison. I took Bible studies through Breath Of Life and Voice Of Prophecy. My Pen Friend enrolled me in several Home Study studies and my life changed. Release from prison bought me back to Yvonne’s words: to be Free In Jesus is to be free indeed. I am married, go to church, and have a great job. The enclosed check will never make up for what I owe but I pray it helps. I thank God you stay on the Internet, as reading your newsletters, God moves us a bit. All our Love, George.
THE FIRST E MAIL FROM CHINA!
I sat and reflected about the meaning of that and what Yvonne and I were doing. As we write, all the viewers are matched with inmates. This young lady in China writing to a complete stranger here is amazing! When Yvonne promised one inmate he would get a letter, we never dreamt we could ever be an international ministry. How many will she recruit? How many will the inmate she writes recruit? Believe me, brethren, only God knows.
WE GET THE CREDIT FOR YOUR WORKS!
Yvonne and I just got off the phone with Pastor Euell Atchley, the man whose words took me to my knees and saved me from certain destruction. He is now 80 and recovering from heart surgery; we ask you to pray for him. He also performed our marriage. God is the foundation he (Euell) led me to.
Then Daryl Retzer and family, Jim Finn and family, Chaplain Stanley Reed and family. Stan opened those prison doors for us and kept pushing and training us. Then God added Chaplain Harry Howard to our life. His expertise and wisdom taught us much at San Quentin. Trust and Obey it is the only way. Richard Cadavero pushed me back on the narrow path when I needed pushing. Lee Grady and his bride taught us the way to survive and serve God in God’s way. If your name is not there it should be. No matter how little you do, God grants the increase. We have a truly amazing group of Faith Partners, all with many stars in their crowns when they get to heaven. I am not wise enough to know how, but we pray for a large party on the Sea of Glass near the Tree of Life. Our donors are many and there is no pattern to the giving, but we stay in the black, thanks to God’s grace. I look out my window and think that the planning of three dear friends leaving Someone Cares in their wills have kept the growing going. My brothers and sisters, we are growing. With all our love we thank each of you, most important those of you who hold us up in prayer.
I WILL FEAR NO EVIL
We met a very Godly man at 3ABN: C.A Murray, who wrote a book with that title — true stories of those who have walked through the valley. This book is published by Pacific Press and we recommend it highly. It’s not about Prison Ministry, but about those who have made it through, and in losing, won. The author works at 3 ABN.
MINISTRY IN PRISON...
is what you will be doing by "Paper Sunshine." Prison is not a nice place. Many in prison are not nice people. Most may never change. But your Pen Friend may. Those of you who are new in our ministry, walk softly and slowly.
Men in prison can easily take kindness for something else. Use the word love very carefully. We do not restrict this ministry from anyone. When you write, e mail or call, we put your name in a pile. As the inmates contact us we put them in a pile opposite yours.
I remember the first book I read: Man the Manipulator: The stories of how inmates spent lots of time setting up free people. We intervene and try to prevent this. Once in awhile we slip. If you are not sure, ask. Please.
Don’t send homemade cookies, a great way to get drugs into prison. They will beg for your phone number. All calls will be collect at a very high rate. Also, your area code gives your location. Don’t send money unless you know the prison policy. Don’t ever send money to an inmate through someone else. If you are married, please make sure your mate is aware of what God has called you to do. If you receive a match with a person serving life and quit writing, save all paperwork so we can rematch. We would love to print any problems any of you have had so others don’t make the same mistake.
My name is Mary. Many years ago Don and Yvonne brought to our church a sermon and an afternoon Prison Ministry Program. I was impressed by several things. The sermon was full of stories that I had never heard before. Stories of what Jesus was doing through folks like me. I had been to the belly of the whale, into the fire, and knew the Prodigal son story well. But the lives of others could be changed by folks like me! I became a Pen Pal. After several months I ran into a problem with the inmate and tried calling Don they were out of town. I went to my Pastor and was told I should not be writing inmates. Well, I ignored that and called a friend. The person I was writing told me he was in prison for child molesting and wanted to know if God would forgive him. He got the answer and we kept writing. My friend got out of prison and we still keep in touch. He is married has two children and is a member of our Church. I have had a total of 16 Pen Friends and not all worked out, but Don or Yvonne handled the problem ones and gave me a new one. They were the only ones to ever ask "me" to serve the Lord. Thank you,
Mary. We live in a world of many problems. I would love to print the comments of many Pastors but will of a couple.
“I have been a Pastor for many years and have never had training by the church in any of the areas we as Pastors deal with today. I chatted with Yvonne when they spoke at my church and she told me "Go to an AA meeting. Go to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. Visit a shelter for abused women, all of which I did — two with the McClures. My church was blessed having a Prison Ministry seminar held by Someone Cares. I was amazed by the turnout for their afternoon program. During a question and answer program, I was shocked by some of the questions asked, and more shocked by the answers. I knew none of them. Some of us have blinders on and we are often ashamed to deal in certain areas. Not any more.”
“I Pastor a large church and we were blessed having the McClures and Someone Cares featured. Chatting with Don at lunch, he said I should put a questionnaire in our church bulletin dealing with drinking, smoking, sexual and verbal abuse, incest and anything else I could think of. Then if I got questions (and I did) that I could not answer, call an organization that could, and I did.”
CHURCH AND STATE
This will be brief. I cannot believe that the President’s wife is going to be dealing with street gangs in places like New York and Detroit and Los Angeles. We say in prison: walk the walk, talk the talk. Can she do this, never having being in places like that? We will surely pray for her. We invite her to walk a prison yard with Yvonne.
How do people know you or how do they see you? Do they know you by your name or who you are, or who you might be related to? Several years ago, when we first went to prison, before we had our name tags, one guy said,
I turned around and said. “Are you talking to me?”
He said, “Yes. I’m sorry, I don’t know your name but I think you look like a Christian, I would like to talk with you.”
I said, “Sure, no problem.” We became great friends and I learned to answer to almost any name, although I have often wondered what made me look like a Christian. I learned that we are observed and so many times we are not even aware of it. People will know us by our actions and our deeds; we must be Christlike in all that we do. So look in the mirror and see if you can see what you want to be.
“Carl’s Jottings,” by an inmate with a unique insight into the process of rehabilitation
MONTHLY B.L.A.C. (Being Lifted Above Crime) AWARENESS
Daily, weekly and monthly, B.L.A.C. awareness addresses the need of men in prison to consider how they live, conduct themselves, and function within this controlled setting. This project was produced as a reminder that if an inmate has no discipline in this environment, his future in society with broader boundaries and limits will certainly be met with difficulty and hardship. If we fail once we leave prison, who’s to blame? May we all realize how each daily decision and choice will add up to either a hopeful future or an extended journey of despair.
I contemplated where I was in my life prior to being incarcerated. Certainly, I concluded as a man of color, that there were quite a few things I wasn’t sensitively aware of, pertaining to boundaries and limits within friendships, family, companionship, marital, community, social and surely those job relations.
I grew up during the Martin Luther King, Jr. Era, Black Power Movement, and the various boycotts, marches and riots wherein enough was heard, seen and considered, that one would have been permeated to his soul toward speculating on all the needful things society ignored regarding men of color. The cultivation of sensitively awakening others to individually relate to humanity was highly infringed upon.
The building and nurturing of men with the capacity to not infringe upon the person of an individual is based upon bound-aries and limits I’ve come to grasp as most needful for me.
Am I B.L.A.C. today?
What does it mean to be aware of B.L.A.C.?
Does what I do daily help or hinder me from being lifted above crime?
In diverse ways, incarceration has afforded me the chastening time of reflection and ongoing self-examination. I ascertain what I’m doing now to re-route viewpoints, thoughts, and actions which can cultivate boundaries and limits that produce harmony and not disharmony; honor and not dishonor; respect and not disrespect, and ultimately, NO! to crime over the committing of crime.
While incarcerated, I’ve recognized, talked about, prayed about, and cried out over how men of color reduce themselves to members of groups, cliques, clans and organizations, instead of investing in analyzing their own points of weaknesses that hinder. I’ve shared the need to avoid notoriety seeking, being consumed with what we wear or eat beyond the norm; and an interest in attention seeking with how much one knows.
How did we function insolently in society, handling our job positions, connecting with family, relating to our wives/female companions, and interacting within the community? Wherever we stand on the issues above, whether we were victims or victimizers, there has and always will be a standard of conduct that encompasses particular boundaries and limits with the exclusion of none — the Brits against India; the Japanese invasion of America; slavery; the holocaust; the U.S.A. against Iraq; the tsunami disaster; presidents/rulers; children/adults; war/peace and prison. Again, nobody escapes the necessity of conformity to boundaries and limits without repercussions pro or con.
Being Lifted Above Crime means that as a man of color, take inventory of the various ways I talk, interact, deal with wrongs, handle disappointment, plan and focus on what needs improvement and how; holding myself accountable regarding too positive or negative an outcome within those boundaries and limits.
As mentioned before, universally, throughout history, others have overcome failure, harm and discontentment of life. As a prisoner, I’ve decided that now is my opportunity to cultivate living skills, healthy interactions, self-discipline, reliability, trustworthiness, patience, acceptance, and true civility toward this society (despite limits/boundaries) I reside in. To succeed beyond this controlled setting, B.L.A.C. calls for surrender, submission and willingness to conform to all guidelines, boundaries, and limits presented “right here.”
Furthermore, B.L.A.C. means: within each passing “day” I do and must recognize weekly, month after month, year in/year out, progress that doesn’t waver or compromise. As a contribution to the month dedicated to those of color...may my words inspire, encourage, and comfort without disappointment. The question to entertain is whether you’re B.L.A.C., which transcends humanity, be it girl/boy or woman/ man. If you’re exempt, how did you get beyond those boundaries and limits? Find your boundaries and limits which necessitate an experience “beyond” failing others, friends, family, our children, and “Self.”
Realizing that troubles of life don’t pacify, nullify, neglect, avoid, or spare any ONE its pain. B.L.A.C means: Finding positive and constructive ways to overcome struggles, setbacks, and unwanted issues of life. As I await my reprieve from my ongoing setback, due to going beyond limits/boundaries set by law, prayer and belief in God have been the antidote that has relieved the unreasonable aspects of boundaries and limits.
JEAN’S JOTTINGS This inmate is one of those to whom Shirley and I minister in the prison — the golden voice in our song service, and we’ve discovered he’s eloquent in his written words as well. Every inmate, regardless of color, could well adopt the philosophy of BEING LIFTED ABOVE CRIME. His 17-year sojourn has taught him much about patience and perseverance.