Quietly Changing Lives
God’s word promises that we are going to the other side. Jesus told his disciples to get in the boat. HIS security will get us there.
Satan has thrown a lot our way and we have been able to fend off most of it. We had a serious virus hit our computer and had to rebuild it, so some of our readers received two news- letters while others received none – we are sorry about that. (If you didn’t receive last month’s letter, you may go to our web page to read it.)
But life is good, and I enjoyed celebrating my 78th birthday last month! I want to thank everyone for your birthday wishes and prayers, so many of them that came from inmates.
BLESSED BY A SONG
Pray with us that as we can continue to keep up with the heavy workload created by this pen friend program. One way to save time is for us not to read all of the inmate mail, but if this is a problem for anyone please let us know. As we’ve stated before, if you receive a letter you are not comfortable with, call or e-mail us.
We often get blamed for delays in receiving mail. We move all mail within three days, but a day or two delay on our part is possible. However, most of the delays come from the prisons. What happens is that your friend writes a letter and gives it to an officer, who may or may not take it to the mail room in a timely manner, where it may be sent to us, eventually.
If you are not receiving your letters from us, it may be as a result of our biggest problem, which is receiving letters that are not addressed correctly, not having your full name on them. Please use and tell your inmate to use two names – your first and last. A letter should never be addressed using only one name, such as “Bob” or “Mary.” Also, if you are using a pen name, make sure you supply us with both your pen name and real name.
THE HELL HOLE CALLED PRISON
Those of you who have been with us for years have been part of a changing world. Prisons across the nation are like our government - overcrowded, under staffed and under funded. Programs that could help inmates have been or are being done away with. Our Lord says to “remember the inmate as if chained with them.”
Due to the condition of the nation’s unemployment, we have to stretch more and more. The postage increase means an additional expense of $800 a month. Inmates trade meals for a stamp, and some give up a lot more. The country decided to take care of crime by making sentences longer, which causes other problems, such as sick seniors then do not receive proper medical attention (of course that is not much different than in the free world).
We thank God that there are 10 families helping us financially that keep us keeping on. We ask the rest of you, can you please give, no matter how small, in order to help some soul to a better place? They are the lost sheep, and if all of them get into the fold we will hear the trumpets sound!
“I am the good shepherd: the good
shepherd gives his life for the sheep...I am the
good shepherd, and know
my sheep, and am known
I never dreamt years ago that a request by one inmate would lead to a Ministry involving thousands. With its size, management is difficult.
We use a two pile system – the inmates requests are in one pile, and free folks in another. Whoever is on top we match. Many have joined this program for a change of life experience, but few know that, although this is a Ministry, it is friendship first. Once your inmate pen friend reaches the Foot of the Cross, then you can get to what you believe in. Do not let your doctrine be a barrier, but a bridge to Jesus. As your friendship grows, your friend will open up and may shock you. Like our kids, they have no one to open up to.
Groups go into prison to teach the Bible, but are not allowed to have one to one time with inmates. They may not have a job and cannot buy stamps. Some prisons allow stamps to be sent in, but not many. The biggest problem you will have is they will ask for things. If you cannot afford that, let them know. Many have conned their way through life, and prisons just add to that mentality.
Do not send or give anything unless you are sure they can have it. And as always, if you have any questions or problems, call or e mail us.
Thousands are leading productive lives as
a result of Paper Sunshine!
IT STARTED IN A CHICKEN COOP
Voice of Prophecy is the oldest Christian radio station that aired our Ministry message and provided Bible studies to anyone for free. I was shocked when they surprised me by airing a week of our broadcasts over my birthday, which ended up bringing a bunch of new folks to this Ministry, also known as “Paper Sunshine.”
We welcome all, and pray that both free and bond are blessed. Please add VOP to your prayer list - without them we might have hit sinking sand. You are joining a Ministry that is trying very hard to follow all of God’s commands. If you received a packet and are not comfortable with the inmate we have sent, send it back. If you asked for a pen friend and have not received a packet, give us a call.
Ministry in Prison
This is where you are escorted in and out of the prison for the express purpose of teaching the Bible, preaching or having a worship song service. All religions share chapels in prison, and many use class rooms. We have years of experience doing this, and would like to help anyone who has a calling to minister to prisoners in this way. Here are some tips:
• We suggest you attend some A.A. meetings, which is a good training ground.
• Before starting, you will go through some training - pay attention, as ministering to prisoners is unlike any other ministry.
• Find out about your group’s interests and religious background. Structure your class based on what the group would like to learn. Some inmates are very versed in the Bible. You don’t need to have all the answers – if you do not have answers to their questions, be open and let them know you are will try and find the answer.
• Try to have a song service, as they love this. Prisons with Chapels usually have pianos, but if not try to recruit a person who plays guitar. If I can lead a song service, then anyone can.
• Do no take anything into your service that has not been pre-approved, and don’t take anything out unless the staff has give their approval.
• Stay in control of your group members.
• Try to have different inmates open and close in prayer.
• The Prison Chaplain: They have their own doctrinal beliefs, and most stick to the New Testament. They are under-staffed and over-worked. One Chaplain friend of ours has a budget of one thousand dollars per year for everything. (Our budget for stamps is higher than that!) Chaplains are often forced to be more like police than clergymen, which makes their job even more difficult. When you meet the Chaplain, try to interact and cooperate with him/her. The Chaplain is a good source for discovering what other programs the prison has to offer. They should be willing to work with you, since the success of your group means better security for them.
If anyone is interested in pursuing a ministry such as this, feel free to contact us for further information.
WHO LIVES THERE?
Gangs…they prey on the weak and are mean. The system forces racial tension, and so different races hang together. In the madness of prison today there is fear, and little hope.
We have spoken with parents about their child, and when we have gone to meet the “child” who they told us about, it is just not the same person. The stench of human waste and the smell of fear is everywhere, contaminating all who are exposed to it.
If you are street-smart, you can make it. It is hard to believe that everywhere are shanks (prison knives). Prisons are run on a point system - the higher the points, the more dangerous the inmate. If you did not finish school, do not have regular job, and are not married, these things add to your score. Drugs are everywhere.
Now, we are asking you to enter this madness via mail. Jesus also asked this of you. “I was in prison and you visited me not.” We have worn out a lot of leathers walking the cell blocks of many a prison. You, from the comfort and safety of your home, can light a light in a darkened soul. All matches do not work, and you may write and not get an answer. Don’t give up! Contact us, and if you must call us collect. We will find an inmate you feel comfortable writing to.
Remember, we are “Pen Friends”, so try to become a friend first. Hundreds of pen friends are still friends even though the inmates are now free.
I knelt to pray when day was done,
And prayed, Oh Lord, bless everyone.
Lift from each heart, and let the sick be well again.
Then I woke one day,
And carelessly went on my way.
The whole day long I did not try
To wipe a tear from any eye.
I did not try to share the load
Of any brother on the road.
I did not go to see
The sick man next door to me.
Yet once again when day was done,
I prayed, Oh Lord, bless everyone.
But as I prayed, through my ear
There came a voice that whispered clear,
Pause, hypocrite, before you pray.
Whom have you tried to bless today?
God’s sweetest always go
To those who serve him here below.
Then I hid my face and cried,
Forgive me God, for I have lied.
Let me but live another day,
And I will live the way I pray.
Yvonne and I receive requests for prayer every day, and those requests go around the world. Has someone ever asked you to pray for me or another, and you did not?
DOES THE CHURCH CARE?
We deal with all kinds of churches, and we also come across many Christians who have, for a variety of reasons, left their main line church. Many pastors face the same problems we do with regards to their budget, and they are held accountable for funding and attendance. Few talk about the main problems of today’s world, including sex, drugs in its various forms, computers and pornography. We often talk to pastors and find that many have little training in the real problems of this world.
The young people in our churches often have as youth leaders dedicated but older folks, who may not be aware of the types of problems that our youth are facing in these troubled times. This can be a frustration, and it’s hard to sing “I’m happy today” when you’re crying inside.
So many people are just trying to get by and make ends meet that they don’t take the time to reach out and help others. Our youth today are in crisis and need extra help and attention. Even “churched” kids make poor decisions and sometimes end up going to prison. Jesus’ message shows us that children are important. Is there a young person in your life or nearby that you can take under your wing and influence in a positive way?
“People were bringing little children to Jesus
for him to place his hands on them, but the
disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he
was indignant.He said to them, ‘Let the little
children come to me, and do not hinder them, for
the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’”