Quietly Changing Lives
BACK ON THE MOUNTAIN TOP:
Yvonne and I truly thank all of you that have gotten us here. I am almost at a loss for words. We are truly blessed by the expansion of Someone Cares and the power of “Paper Sunshine”, our Risk Free Letter-Writing Program.
From all around this country inmates are being Blessed by mail from all around the world! Doors once closed are now open, things we have tried are coming together. Yvonne and I remember when we only got a hand-full of mail, but now we get tubs full. We often get notes from hardcore men telling us how they cried when receiving mail after long periods of no mail at all. The joy from women and men hearing their names called is such a blessing. Often inmates write themselves so they do not get embarrassed. We still read of inmates trading meals for a stamp to answer a Paper Sunshine letter. We get calls from parents and grandparents because we took the time to match some imprisoned family member.
After so many years we are getting mail from Pastors wanting to get involved, and get their Church involved AMEN. The biggest blessing is getting mail from ex-inmates who were touched by Someone while inside--wishing to be part of this Ministry now that they are SET FREE.
Everyone wants to be remembered,
free or confined.
It’s important to communicate,
take time to drop a line.
For those of us imprisoned
cut off from society.
A Card or just some notes are things
we long to see.
Be it family or friends
or even someone we do not know,
a message from the outside
brings a smile and a glow.
It is a fight mentally,
a challenge for the mind,
demanding on ones resources,
this thing called doing time.
A day to day struggle
With thoughts only of home,
how are our children, my wife, my girl,
are they waiting or have they gone.
Some in tears and sorrow,
others with fear and shame.
There are those putting up a front,
troubled all the same.
What is a letter or note
For those of us confined?
It could just make a difference,
Bringing joy and peace of mind.
WHO MAKES THE RULES?
In todays' society there is a general attitude that is acceptable to get even with the bad guys because they deserve it. That idealistic concept works only in the movies where the fictitious characters really do not matter. In reality, however, you are dealing with people who have the potential to affect their communities with their behavior; even from behind the walls of a prison, the “tough on crime” policies currently being used are often tactics politicians use to play on the fears of voters. Some really believe the “lock ‘em up and throw away the key" philosophy is the best solution. They fail to see the correlation between that and the higher than ever crime statistics.
There are figures that about 20% of those locked up are not guilty of the crime they are charged with. The plea bargain often used to make men and women through fear admit to crimes they are not guilty of knowing what can happen if turned over to our court system. We think of the many inmates put to death and found not guilty after they died. Then there are snitches that testify against someone to get a deal for themselves. We do think that those guilty must pay for their crimes. The very high cost of prison is more than just out of hand.
PRISON MINISTRY CRIME PREVENTION:
We do need to start this section as an alert. Many in prison have just enough knowledge of the bible to use it for their own benefit. The reason we ask you to write through us is to protect you from the scam artists that prisons are full of. This can be difficult with our growth, so if we miss something please contact us. Do not be ashamed if you are matched with a real con artist. We can take over and give you another. The inmates have filled out applications--read it all, please. Also, try to keep a record of your letters. It is important to realize this is a Pen Friend Program not Pen Pal. Do not jam them with religion - crawl before you walk. With over-crowding there is little to do. With cutbacks, many programs are gone and inmates pull dead time. With gang violence, lockdowns are common and often very long. Rehabilitation is rare--regeneration is what we try to accomplish. You may be matched with someone who can barely read. If you are uncomfortable, send information back and we will send another name. We may miss something said that is bad. Don’t give up, send it to us and we will take it back and give you another.
ISMAEL WRITES: I JUST FOUND OUT ABOUT YOUR
Ministry through a fellow inmate. I am aware you are a Christian Ministry and you do not charge us for your services (Many Do). Living in prison is a very hard life. Letters from a friend or relative are one form of therapy so to speak. Letters from someone willing to enter these hell holes is a real blessing.
To me you provide Light, Happiness and smiles to people who have to endure living in horrible conditions we are under. We see adds all over for Pen Pals and those can lead to another kind of hell. Your offers of a Pen Friend bring warmth to my soul. I hope I qualify. He did. James adds: Someone Cares has a well-formed program. As an inmate who is in the program I filled out an application. We were told mail would be read, not to ask for certain things. That the free person should not write direct. This program is designed to protect the free person from those who live to take advantage of anyone. I wrote to at least a dozen Pen Pals programs before I got a Pen Friend. My prayer is I would love to meet this couple who gives so much for so little. He will.
PUT JESUS ON THE FRONT PAGE:
Nothing can slow this Ministry down. To keep on growing a friend offered an idea. Every time an inmate gets a letter they share it, sending more inmates our way. We need writers from the free world. A special offering to put “Paper Sunshine”, our risk-free letter writing program, in a good Christian Magazine, or If Someone wants to sponsor it--God Bless. Also someone told someone they had every newsletter we had ever written. If so we would like to borrow them? A book needs to be finished and a video done.
SOME PROBLEMS THAT CAN HAPPEN:
If an inmate gets in trouble in prison or is afraid, they are locked down 24/7. Mail is delivered but they have no stamp, pen, paper or envelope. They cannot answer. Write a second letter. If there is still no answer, send all information back and we will give you a new one.
We take it for granted when we write we will get an answer back--not so in prison. Do not be offended if inmates ask for money. If you can afford it send a small amount. If not say so. Do no send cash. They may ask for phone numbers. If you give it out, remember all calls are collect and can cost up to $5.00 a minute. This also gives your location. Lonely men and women fall in love easily. Use Dear and love carefully. If married make sure husband or wife knows you are writing. Talk about your mate and family, ask about theirs. Ask a lot of questions to help them write. If you are not sure ask us please. If you were sent a name and have not written please do, or return information.
IF YOU WERE SENT AN INMATE PACKET AND HAVE NOT, OR ARE NOT WRITING PLEASE WRITE OR RETURN
HEBREWS 13:3 YVONNES CORNER:
Most of you are like I was when God called Don back to Prison to Minister! God had not called me but I went to see. What could some Bible Study two nights a week lead to? Soon Don told me he wanted to go into fulltime Prison Ministry. He quit a very high paying job and did just that. My background as a Pastor's daughter, raised in Church schools had not prepared me for what was ahead. Don’s past and his massive time spent in the Bible brought about many changes. Like once he told an inmate if he kept on interrupting the service he would take the guy outside, and then he did just that. Soon working with Chaplain Read at Soledad Don’s transformation was completed. We ended up as fulltime volunteer Chaplains, unpaid by Church or State.
We both learned a whole lot. In my case it was much more difficult, but all the inmates respected us and really treated us well. They knew we were there for them. Then we started The Dress out program providing inmates with neat new clothes upon release. Remedial reading using the Bible as a text book. We worked with M2 which is a one to one visitation program. Finally we helped establish a re-entry program. I will tell a bit each newsletter as maybe you can do the same where you are. Don’s conversion was a miracle and we both are happy God endorsed all our programs and made them work. A smile always when Don ran into men from his past life and said, I’m a Prison Chaplain and work for God. We do welcome all new folks and invite all to contact us if any problems should arise in your Prison Ministry.TALK THE TALK WALK THE WALK:
Many, especially in prison talk a lot about Jesus and the Bible. Many have put their own spin on what the Bible says. Many tell others what they think the Bible says. What says the Bible, the Bible to me? Words of men so often deceive us, what says the Bible to me. Both in prison and in many churches, self integration is confusing. The Bible says do not SIN but if we do we still have a Savior. Living a Christian life in prison is tough and there is little help. Teaching God’s word and doing wordily things send out a very poor message. We knew a Chaplain who went through the motions of his job. Too often he was drunk or near it. How could he say Jesus says and does what Jesus said not to do. Many in prison know the only chance they have of getting out is Devine intervention. They know that as God's word says - to be Free in Jesus is to be free indeed.WE WROTE GOT NO ANSWER!
We suggest writing three times even if you do not get an answer. That is hard. We then ask you to send all the information back to us and we will get you a new name. When we get the name back we then write the inmate monthly for a year. At the end of the year we send a letter to the Chaplain asking him to tell the inmate. Someone Cares tries to help.
Let me tell you about Timothy. The above happened and we wrote 12 times. Finally I got an answer. He was a hard core gang member along with his two brothers and father - all in prison. He had kept all the letters and finally said to himself...Someone must care. That was five years ago. He and one of his brothers have become Christians, his dad was killed in prison. Again we ask if you get a name and do not write and still have the information, return it. When we have a problem we must deal with it. We are getting very large, and with your help we will make the needed changes. BECAUSE OF YOU, SOMEONE CARES.