Quietly Changing Lives
I am continually amazed at this Ministry. I wish we had kept track of all the inmates that have contacted us over the years. The number would be high. We still hear from many of them after years of freedom. The problem is we just cannot keep up with the massive amount of requests for Pen Friends.
We are going to attempt to keep up with the volume of letters by once again allowing our Pen Friends to write to their inmates using email. This is a lot of extra work on our end, but it might help bring in more Pen Friends who are used to communicating through their computer.
How it would work is you would write your letter to the inmate in an email to us. At the top of your email, type your real full name, then space down and type your inmate’s name, number and address. Sign your letter by typing your name (or pen name) at the end. We will print your email, trim off the top portion that has your real name and email address, and then mail it to the inmate. (Here is where we incur the extra expense of printing and mailing your letter). When we receive the inmate’s letter to you, we can either mail it or scan it and email it to you (as soon as we get a scanner - does anyone have one to donate??). Once again, this is a lot of additional work, but hopefully this is a way to keep up with the need for more Pen Friends to write. Those not wishing to write can help by funding these extra expenses.
Emailing Directly to the Inmate. Even though prisoners are not allowed to surf the internet, some prisons allow inmates access to computers in order to email letters. Other prisons may not allow their inmates to send emails, but they are able to receive emailed letters through an online service, such as jpay.com. Writing to your inmate through jpay gets your letter to the inmate much faster (usually within 2 days of the time you send it), and it eliminates the time and additional cost of sending a handwritten letter through us. (There is a small cost to you; each page costs the price of one regular stamp.) Emailing through jpay is easy and safe – the only information the inmate sees is whatever you type in the body of the email. If this is something you would consider, please visit jpay’s website for more details and to set up an account, at www.jpay.com.
Or - better yet, please contact us direcly before you try this. HARD TIME
Prison today is so much different than when I was in, as well as when the Lord led me back there to start this Ministry so many years ago. At one time the prison system really attempted to rehabilitate men and women, but politicians decided to make sentences longer and take away programs that helped. Please ask your Pen Friend to write us about what the conditions are in their prison, and we will publish their comments. Prison is big business and wastes a ton of taxpayers’ money.
A GOOD TEAM
Last month, Yvonne told you about our staff of Jake, his mother Ronna, and soon Jake’s father, Mike, who is in prison and will soon be training for re-entry, and helping our Ministry while still in. His return to Christ is amazing. Jake is going to school and helping part time, his mom works semi to full time and helps us part time. A real neat addition to our team is Jake’s girlfriend, Brittany, who is also a student, works part time, and is helping us part time. Talk about putting the pieces together! AMEN!
My eyesight takes a magnifying glass to read the mail, and when our crew is doing other things sometimes the mail is not read. However, be assured that we move all the mail along as quickly as we can. Your mail goes out to the inmate the same day we get it, and the inmate’s letters go out to you the same day or the next day after receipt.
By the way, for those of you who think you are too old, I’ll be 79 in June, and I still plan to play golf and bowl, the Lord willing!
When an inmate writes to request a Pen Friend, those letters go into one pile. When free people ask for an inmate pen pal, those letters go into another pile. A lady called me minutes ago wanting four inmates to write to, so she got the top four from the pile. (We make an exception and pick other letters from the pile only if inmates are from the same prison.)
Sometimes it’s a problem if a black inmate gets a white or Spanish Pen Friend, and they do not want to write. This causes the free person to get discouraged. If we match you with someone you are not comfortable with, or who does not answer the first letter, write, call or email us and we will rematch you. Send the inmate’s original letter and application back to us, and we will write them.WELCOME, BETTY
Betty was raised in a home full of prejudice and a white-only church. She joined our Pen Friend program, and the name on top of the pile was black, and a member of a black gang. They wrote for a year and became friends. Something they had in common was Church.
Betty decided to visit, sent in a visiting form and was approved. She went to the prison and waited in the visiting room to meet her new friend. The shock that both experienced at seeing each other was terrific, but they went through with the visit. He wrote her later that he really was given a bad time by other black inmates, and yet they remain friends to this day.
I learned a song when I first became a Christian, and one of the verses goes like this: “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world; red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in HIS sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.” Wouldn’t it be neat if our nation and everyone in all the churches felt that same way?
When Yvonne and I became “honorary blacks” at San Quentin we were honored, and many never understood why. Many of you were matched with and wrote to inmates of a different race, but did not receive an answer because of that ignorance. The worst part about that is many of you got discouraged and quit. We need you! We also need all the information back on anyone who does not write back to you so we can take care of them, so there will be no lost sheep.
THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
We have watched massive changes over the years in Prison Ministry. Most groups that go into prison want to teach their doctrine to those who do not know Jesus. We now have been around almost 40 years, and praise God we no longer hear, “We don’t want those kinds of people in our Church.” We now have pastors getting their churches involved in what Jesus always wanted when He commanded the people to “Follow Me.” We have taught that those going to prison will be coming out some day. Most inmates know that learning anything more than they knew is a stepping stone home. We still face a mighty racial problem in prison, and also with the Pen Friend Program.
Jesus went to the garden to pray with his disciples, requesting only that they stay awake, but they did not. “God Bless” is used by most everyone when we sneeze! Why not when we frown, or cry or are just down in the dumps?
I was walking into the post office a couple of days ago and a man was walking towards me. His clothes were worn, his brow wrinkled, and he looked so sad. I said, “God Bless you.” He stopped and smiled, and said, “I know He does, but being all alone sometimes I forget.” We told him about a Christian seniors group we were familiar with, and he is now a smiling member.
Do you share with others how God has blessed you? Do you tell those you go to Church with about our Ministry? Here’s a suggestion – have your youth leader read “Jake’s Corner” to their group. Recently a Church of 100 members joined us, becoming a part of our team. They requested 100 names. Two folks in charge got a P.O. Box and they started a mini Someone Cares. Amen.
LETTER FROM THE INSIDE
The Worse Day of My Life. I had gone to the parole board and
was rejected. Walking back to my cell a female voice said, “It can’t
be that bad. Jesus loves you.” Enter Don and Yvonne. Here I am, 30,
no future, and Jesus is going to make that better. That was 25 years
ago. I have been out of prison for 12 years, have a wife, two kids and
belong to a good church because of those eight words. Don and
Yvonne and Someone Cares have made it a better world. Don, near
80 years old, talks about being an active 100 if Jesus tarries.
Yvonne’s total faith will not make anyone quit. If you need prayer call
them, something will happen. Your donations and their social
security keeps this going. Jake, Brittany and Ronna will take some of
the work away but raising funds is what they have to do. I am going
to put an ad in some Christian magazine, maybe you can do the
same? Because of the many, Someone Cares. Jesus loves you.
A MOTHER’S WISE WORDS
A young black man was killed in Florida by a person of a different race. The mother of the dead boy said, “My heart is not black, the man who killed my son’s heart is not a different color, the police have the same red heart we all do.”
My Bible says that we are all Christ-like. Does anyone have a definition of what color that might be? Or perhaps HE is waiting for us to figure that out.
Yvonne fell and fractured an old
fusion in her neck and is in a
neck brace 24/7. By the time
you receive this letter, she will
have been to the surgeon.
A big part of my job is moving the mail. We have about 20 letters from a numerous amount of inmates, all going to one person named “Miss Sofia.” There are a lot of letters that I can’t find out who they go to because of their use of aliases. If you use an alias (aka “pen name”) or want to create one, you must use a first and last name, and inform us of the name you are using, along with your full real name. I also have a lot of letters for someone with an alias of “Lilly” and we don’t even have her in the alias records. My point is, if you have an alias we need to know it and have it in our records so we know who you are. Thank you for your cooperation.
Last month we were talking about bullies, and now I want to talk about young people in prison and how to lead them to the Lord. Here in Fort Wayne there are a lot of drugs. Every drug can be found here, and that is one of the biggest problems for young people in poverty and desperation. Drugs turn into money very easily and very fast, but when you look at drugs like money that gets you one of three things: money, prison or death. The sad part is most choose money. I personally have seen that once someone goes into prison, or even a juvenile detention center as a kid or teen, they come out a different person; sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad - it can go either way. Either they go in and fall into gangs, or they go in and come out never wanting to go back in or run into the law again.
The teens in juvy are the exact same as the adults in prison, except the minds of kids are easier to mould. You can change the direction of a teen, and that’s what makes me so interested in this Ministry. I love what I do and who I do it for. The Lord is my God and I intend to bring as many young misfits as I can find to His side so He can heal each and every one of them and show them that money isn’t everything. He can teach them that however much they give is what will be returned to them, and show them that everything they do in this life counts for something in the end. The young generation needs to be shown that in Heaven there are no guns or drugs, there is no such thing as a ghetto or suburbs, and everyone is equal in God’s eyes – we are all brothers and sisters in the name of the Lord. Amen.
I will be one of the few to step up and
recruit the gangsters for God, to help them
see there is no need to fight against each other
for money or drugs, but instead they can join
God to fight the devil for their spot in heaven.
All it takes is to trust and believe in our Lord