Quietly Changing Lives
IF EVER ASKED:
To do anything in the name of Jesus say, “I’ll be happy to”.
Many have asked about my background. So many years ago when I became a Christian the last thing in my mind was to be a Pastor, much less a Prison Chaplain or operating an International Prison Ministry. I also never thought my years in the gutter and ghetto would end up being a blessing.
THANK YOU MY LOVE:
As I reflect on all the steps that led me from gutter to penthouse to gutter to glory, the first was meeting Yvonne.
She was raised a Christian and a Pastor’s daughter. I was an atheist looking for what I had never had, and I had no idea what that was or would be.
Our relationship took us to the very gates of Hell. Being pulled away from her roots Yvonne yearned to get back to the security she knew in Jesus. I had nothing to go back to never being there.
ENTER EUELL ATCHLEY:
A Godly man who started off as a cop and became a Minister. I was about to destroy Yvonne and myself, but her wisdom took us to Euell’s Church. For many months Yvonne’s friends had told me what not to do. I think I already knew all that, but sin is fun, In Euell’s Church office two Miracles happened. First Euell made Yvonne sit in a corner and be quiet-Amazing.
Then in a language I understood he told me about Jesus. Not the give up this or that but the give in Jesus. After several hours of total peace, truth, and kindness and God’s Love this atheist and ex-convict went down on his knees. After prayer, during which the old me was sucked away, I rose Born Again. Two or three packs of cigarettes, and drinking about a fifth of booze and doing a lot of drugs every day - all that was gone. I was and still am high on Jesus. “To be Free in Jesus is to be Free indeed.
ENTER DARRYL RETZER:
Now I’m a Christian and Darryl was the Pastor of my new Church. Being a grammar school drop out and a street raised youth I had not been in Church a lot. I think I set a record of being in a Pastor’s class. I devoured the Bible and many reference books of the Bible. But there was a very real problem - I just did not fit in Church. As hard as I tried It was difficult. I was invited to a lunch where the speaker was a Prison volunteer. As babe in Christ I knew at once HE led me where I needed to be. Soon and very soon I was teaching Bible at Soledad Prison. Now I knew I really did belong, to the family of God. In serving Jesus I was given a chance to repay all I had done wrong in my life.
ENTER CHAPLAIN STAN READ:
Stan took both Yvonne and me under his wing and we learned well. I quit a great job and Yvonne and I became full time Chaplains. Yep a grammar school drop out would lead to our ordination. My bride would get the nick name Double Trouble as every thing we did, she did for Jesus’ sake and did not always conform to Prison Policy. With my re-birth came the start of Someone Cares Prison Ministry.
Thanks to Jim Finn and Lee Grady and their counsel and wisdom, which we followed, and to many of you who joined with us and have stayed with us.
EVEN SATAN CAN TAKE CREDIT?
When I grew up in and out of jails, youth facilities, prison, I made it through because I was tough and full of hate. I learned the systems and all the tricks to beat it, this and my conversion made it easy for me to work with the toughest of the inmates.
ENTER WILLIE BANNER:
He just wrote a letter to his Pen Friend which I will share a bit of: ”I have always been near to you both in heart and mind, because you both seem to have always been there for me, and all of us. So many of your lessons and sermons you insisted that we learn it not just listen to it. But apply to our lives. You taught so many how to apply it, God's Word, to our lives. I have always loved and adored you both and as soon as I can, I will find a way to say I love you. God sent you as eyes when I was blind and could not see. And thankfully you never gave up on me, not saying like many do he’s just using Gods word. I shared many of your words with other inmates and I mean some real bad dudes. Giving me a way out of hell God has broken their backs with Don’s words. I have many friends because of you and Yvonne’s teaching and dedication.”
We thank Willie. He has been down for a long time. His walk has been firm and His words reflect Gods words. If you want to send him a note we will forward it to him, he is on Death Row.
CHAPLAIN STANLEY READ
Stan wrote: For twelve years you had volunteered your talents and energies to the religious programs here at Soledad.
Yvonne, I shall never forget the new vitality you put into our Worship services by forming and directing inmate choirs as well as accompanying with piano or organ, whichever was working. In as much as I cannot carry a tune in a bushel basket (so True).
You will never know how much your efforts were appreciated by me and the inmate congregations. Later you expanded your Ministry with a class on study of the scriptures, some counseling, and very lively, thought-out and prepared discussion groups. Your demeanor in an all male population was always above anything of a questionable nature and you quickly learned how to fend off any “slurs” that may have come from inmates who may have not learned to respect a lady.
Don, your masculine approach to the men was always an example to the Christian and non-Christians that a vital and viable religious faith not only gives strength but also requires it.
Your many man to man interviews with individuals, and your large group sessions, contributed to the development of Christian character in those inmates who took participation seriously. These and all your other services had, in my opinion a definite impact toward amelioration the quality of life for inmates while in a correctional setting and after their release. As a team, you came up with some innovative ideas. Some of them ways to advanced for the agency as conservative as, The Department of Corrections to appreciate fully.
At times you were both put on the hot seat when you did not deserve to be there. I, we appreciated your graciousness at such times and in such circumstances then and now. You two will always find new and exciting ways. Ways to be of Service to our Lord and Savior Jesus through ministering to the often forgotten children in prisons, and the main stream of society.
We do Love you Stan. By the way I might add we worked there full time and received no pay. So we had to raise our own funding. Thank you Jesus
GOD CALLED US WE WENT
For many years we have taken credit for what so many others have done for and with us. We feel the blessing is being able to make the right choices and not making costly mistakes.
One very hard thing for most Christians is learning to get down in that gutter to help others get out of it. We learned that to properly serve God is to teach about HIM, not the Doctrines all our Churches follow.
SOMEONE CARES PRISON MINISTRY NEEDS CHANGE
When this Ministry got so popular and grew so fast we were so busy keeping up we did not see the need to adjust. Now it seems that every time we match an inmate a friend of theirs wants a Pen Friend also.
We are so grateful for Voice Of Prophecy and ask you to keep them on your Prayer list. Putting us on the air has kept us even and growing. That snow ball is as big as MT Everest.
The accident that set us back a bit forced us to make a few changes. Yvonne being hurt much more than I can not do some of the things she did, but keeping the mail read is now her main job. With a plate in her hand and arm the cold here does bother her a lot. We are praying God leads us to a warmer climate. A perfect plan is to be able to rent a place in the winter to return when it warms up. We are sure HE will work it out.
Then splitting the Ministry into four areas will work. We have one interested couple.
VERY EXTRA SPECIAL PERSON:
Many years ago we got a call from a really neat lady. In a kind way she told me our newsletters were neat but my grammar was less than terrible.
That brought us Jeans Jotting and Jean Winter. So many times Satan did not want the newsletter out, but Jean won almost every battle.
She has a son and grandson living with her and her Ministry in Prison has grown and there is a time when something has to go.
We will hear from her from time to time and we also ask all of you to Pray for her.
POWER OF PRAYER:
A short time ago we told you about two friends that got badly taken by crooked contractors. They found a piece of property and sold their home to build their dream home. They now have lost the old home and all the money they received was taken, leaving them in dire straights. To add to losing almost all, Larry may lose his job - a very good one due to downsizing. The only good thing - the garage was finished, badly, but they are living in it.
Larry and Mona need big time prayer.
I have never thought of myself as doing a lot, I somehow thought, that I could share a smile, and be friendly with those I met and worked with. Somehow my parents never prepared me for the inside of a prison, walking down the cell block of a Death Row, even going cell to cell wearing a bullet proof vest. God is so good; He just continues to bless us through all of you.
Last year when we had the accident, my right hand and arm were totally broken and crushed, the doctor said it was the worst he had ever seen. Now that I have finished physical therapy and there isn’t any thing left for the doctor’s to do, I will be thankful for what God is doing and has in store for us. Being married to Don has been a real learning experience; I really believe that God put us together for a reason. I’m so Grateful for what we have been able to do as a team. Being an out door person I admit the bad winter has kept me indoors. Don was able with help to alter our duties and as always God blessed us.
Remember it’s always true, God Loves You.
DOUBLE TROUBLE was a nickname given Yvonne many years ago. She could not just go into prison like others did with so many needs that were not being met.
I will have her explain in detail the programs she started, often bucking heads with wardens. This we will do via Video later.
The Dress out Program: Providing clothes for inmates leaving prison.
Remedial Reading: teaching inmates how to read or write. This became very special for Jesus. To get out of prison many inmates are forced to do their own legal work. Often gang members signed up. Then they found the text book was the bible. The Holy Spirit often gave the diploma. Amen
The Pen Friend Program. This amazes me still. Paper Sunshine that changed many inmate’s direction in life and brought families together. Parts of this program opened doors for church members to fulfill Gods Command: “I was in prison and you visited me not.” Yvonne and I broke the mold of “opposites attract.”
I will tell you about Holy Boldness: Al Gomez a Captain at Soledad called Yvonne to his office. Might I note this man went under cover as an inmate to break up prison gangs, and drug dealing? He told her if she was going to work in his prison he was going to train her. He took her to a section of the prison for extra hard-core inmates. Yvonne had learned from me to keep eye contact. She went cell to cell talking to some of the worst of the worse. We know the angels were with her. Hard to get mad - her main complaint when talking to church members was hearing “we do not want to deal with those people.” Or, “we don’t want those people in our church.” Well Jesus does.
Neither Yvonne nor I like crime. The idea of a child molester is as bad for us as it is for you. But we have seen Jesus change those men and women. A copy of this newsletter will be on our web page by the time you get it. Please send it to everyone in your address book. We watch the conditions of the world and see Prophesy fulfilled. We need your help to fill the boat. Jesus promises we are going to the other side.
ODDS AND ENDS
We again have a stack of mail we have no idea where it is going. A bunch of you we matched forgot to send the blue form. If you wrote and received no answer, send name of inmate. Please, on letters to us put real Name and address. On letter to inmate your name or Pen name, our address, Inmate name, number and address.WE NEED; PEN FRIENDS FAITH PARTNERS, A LAP TOP COMPUTER, AND A GOOD USED CAR, MOSTLEY WE NEED YOU