Quietly Changing Lives
When we look at the world today it is apparent Jesus is not returning soon. On the cross with two other criminals Jesus started a very long journey. Getting to the cross took a lot out of Jesus. The weight of our sins was too much. He dropped the cross and was then helped. His journey crept forward. We stand at the foot of the cross often, Prison Ministry in action. One convict was promised salvation. Jesus was not unwilling to minister to the two convicts. How about you?
When God placed us in this Ministry some 40 years ago He knew the problems we would have. So often we have heard “we don’t want those kinds of people in our Church! Jesus wants them in Heaven and has prepared a place for them. We often start our day at the foot of the cross praying for direction.
Making sure that the “Christ” is in Christmas is vital. What does Christmas really mean to us? Does it mean parties, tons of gifts, going out and doing what we have done in the past? God is so good. He gives us a chance. For a moment let us reflect back to when Jesus stood in Pilate’s hall. Will you evade Him as Pilate did? Friendless, forsaken, betrayed by all, Hearken! What means the sudden call, “What will you do with Jesus?” Would you try to hide? What will you do with Jesus? Neutral you cannot be. Someday your heart will be asking, “What will He do with me?” We here at Someone Cares pray you will say focused on the Christ in Christmas.
We are again proud to say that we will end the year in the black. Yet we still have a massive job ahead with Yvonne at 75 years of age, me at 82 and Ronna at 55. We prayerfully ask each of you to continue as you have. If you are a Prayer Warrior, please continue. If a Pen Friend, add an inmate. If you support us please continue as you have. Pray we find someone to take over this Ministry. Yvonne and I will still be directing and advising, being good stewards of God’s gifts. God placed a figure of 100 of you who have never given before to pledge $25.00 a month. Tax deductible here, and noted in Heaven.
It’s not what we eat but what we digest that makes us strong. Not what we gain but what we save that makes us rich. Not what we read but what we remember that makes us learned. Not what we profess but what we practice that makes us Christian. I learned early on a Christian is what a Christian does.
I was a new Christian when you came to our Church. The sermon was super but the program later changed my life. I signed up as a Pen Friend and got a name. I read the instructions and wrote. No answer, I wrote again. No answer, I called and got a new name. You told me to not give up on the first inmate. I wrote him for two years and finally got an answer. He explained his prison gang ties and how he had to break them. We wrote for a year rather often and I visited. I met his family and we all cried when you baptized him. He is out. We visit, go fishing and sometimes go to each others’ Church. We thank your Ministry so much.
TRUE PEN “FRIEND.”
I listened to you on the radio and joined the God Squad. I have written to many inmates through your Ministry. Was it easy? No, but a true learning Christian experience. Several times I almost quit. George, my first inmate, was nice but always wanting something. I called Yvonne and took her advice to establish some ground rules. I did and we really became friends. He got sick and my Church paid for me to visit him. He died before I could go. Here is something I received from him:
I am from a very bad family, my parents were alcoholics and my brothers and sister were on drugs. Prison was a safety net for me. Jesus became a safety net both in and out of prison. I was scared at first not wanting to die. The Bible tells me it is going to be pretty nice so I’ll see you there.
EACH ONE REACH ONE.
My name is Bob and I hooked up with your Ministry twenty years ago. I had a hard time at first as I knew little about convicts or prison. You and Yvonne helped a lot. The inmates not knowing helped me also. Getting a bit of an education helps to start. Fear is an area to work on as most are scared. Slowly finding out about their background. Biggest fear is gangs which seem to run the prisons. Prison offers little in jobs and very little in education. Now if you have money the prison or gangs try to get it. Don taught me to try to direct them towards getting out. Getting a GED, learning how to get Bible information and direction. I still hear from 13 released inmates and they are doing well. Prison Ministry really is “Crime Prevention.”
I dropped out of school in grammar school. Ran away from home at thirteen. Started a street gang and let crime control my life. Kept running, wanting to be caught. Got caught and quit running. Met Yvonne and changed her life. Met Jesus and helped change thousands of lives. I knew nothing about the Bible and less about the Lord.
Jesus took me in and I learned the Bible and how to walk the walk and talk the talk. For almost 50 years we have been in a non-profit Prison Ministry. I have preached in 300 churches, been on radio and Christian TV. We have lived on donations and widow’s mite. Was never paid by Church, State or Prison System. Were for years full time unpaid staff Chaplains. With all the duties that others had, but we were not paid. Even went through the police academy twice to be certified. We have no retirement and I think God does not want us to retire. We made a promise to God that if He blessed this Ministry we would keep it going. My eyes are not so good and driving is not a good idea, and we thank God we have Ronna. Travel is fun but staying home is neat. Yvonne also has eye issues, reading all this mail. We do have folks interested in helping, so as always and with Ronna we can let go and let God.
What if God couldn’t take the time to bless us today because
we did not thank him yesterday?
What if God stopped leading us today as we did not follow Him yesterday?
What if God didn’t walk with us today because we failed to
see it as His day?
What if God took away the Bible today as we did not read it yesterday?
What if God took away the message because we ignored the messenger?
What if God did not send His only Son because He wanted us to
pay for our sins?
What if the door of the Church was closed as was the door to our heart?
What if God failed to love us if we failed to love one another?
What if He would not hear us today because we did not listen yesterday?
DO’S AND DON’TS
Having nothing, inmates may ask for things and you may or may not be willing to give it to them. If they keep asking for stuff that is all they want. This can create problems so we recommend that you do not begin giving in to an inmate’s requests for things. Inmate Pen Pals online is a terrible place. Even in prison they use it to try and get a mate or someone to give them stuff. Also never make a promise you cannot keep. Your letter should not have stickers on the envelopes (since some use that as a way to get drugs in). Money is ok if you can afford it, but it must be sent according to each prison’s rules. Books and writing materials must come from a vendor.
Don’t be preachy until you establish a friendship. Get family members involved. But keep in mind they have nothing. They may not answer because they don’t have pens or pencils, paper or envelopes, or stamps. If each of you passed along our newsletter to someone else and got them to write, we could cover the massive amount of inmates waiting for a friend. We have shared before that some inmates write to themselves just to hear their name called at mail call.
If you have experienced any problems with your inmate, could you share your stories with us so we can print them in our newsletter for others to learn from? Contact us for what to do or not to do.
We are proud to say that we have NEVER had a year in the red. To us that means we are doing what God directs us to do. There is excitement in wondering, what next? Keeping this Ministry growing with all of you helping will be easy. I will not live forever here. Yvonne and Ronna are and will be a great asset. When we set this Ministry up it was to pay all Ministry expenses, stamps, paper, and travel, as well as our medical and housing expenses. Hard to believe that for 40 years a car or computer or other necessity has been sent to us just at the right moment. Speaking in Churches and being on Voice of Prophecy and Three ABM got us many writers. The way the government is set up a tax write off is difficult but not if you donate to this Ministry. Along with funding we need your prayers.
My doctor is amazed at me. I have never had a childhood or any other health problem. Before accepting Jesus I used drugs and alcohol, and smoked. Any ill affects from that lifestyle were gone long ago.
We believe that in these troubled times all types of Ministries are vital. We often are not asked by the Church to do anything, but God wishes us to do everything. When we were at Soledad Yvonne was Chaplain of one yard of 900 inmates. She first converted the Chapel to an all Faiths Chapel with the motto: Don’t let your doctrine be a barrier but a bridge to JESUS. All her volunteers fell in line.
Since my background was similar to that of most inmates, Jesus called on my experience and I did one to one counseling in the cell blocks. Yvonne one day was asked by a soon-to-be-released inmate if she could help with clothes for him to wear when released. She thought, why not, and asked him what sizes. He brought her a hand full of strings to show the sizes of his cloths. We got him clothes, the first of over a hundred thousand we provided release clothes for. This is a vitally needed program for churches wanting to start a ministry for prisoners.
We started sharing our time with San Quentin. One day driving home Yvonne said, “I sort of kind of made a promise to an inmate. He has been down for years and has never gotten a letter.” We arranged for that to happen and the snow ball started. Over a million inmates have completed Bible studies through Paper Sunshine. Risk free from the comfort and safety of your home, you can be a Pen Friend. Read Matthew 25 and Hebrews 13:3. One Christmas, a long time ago, we gave $1.00 and a small book called Steps to Christ to every inmate at San Quentin.
Man, woman, boy or girl, they are humans who came through God’s creation. Most are abused and uneducated. All have been charged and convicted of a crime. Many are not guilty. All deserve a chance, and many will never change. The day they enter prison they are watched. Young ones are abused. The gangs use and abuse them. Being locked down for long periods of time makes rehabilitation pretty tough. No jobs, no school, little chance to get better. Most take Bible studies, many of them just to show an attempt to change. We have led a lot of them to Christ and through Bible studies, mostly from Voice of Prophecy.