Quietly Changing Lives
At 75 years old, Yvonne is as old as her tongue and a little older than her teeth. We have been married a very long time. When I became a Christian I never in my wildest dreams thought I would become a Christian. I had grown up with the motto, “Live fast, die young, and have a good looking corpse.”
Becoming a Chaplain and a Minister way back when, I remember Yvonne saying, “God called you to prison, not me!” She also thought, “Do the crime, do the time.” But God touched her heart and Someone Cares was born.
Several months later, walking across the yard at Soledad Prison, an inmate stopped her to say that he was getting paroled in two week and had nothing to wear. She told him if he got his sizes together she would get (not try to get) him clothes. The next morning after prayer he asked if she had a minute, and in his hand he had a bunch of strings that represented all of his measurements. That day the Dress Out Program was born. That released inmate got his clothes, and eventually over the years so did over a 100,000 other men and women.
Once we got a call from the Warden at San Quentin to meet their Chaplain. Our experience in prison led us to a Cell Ministry in two of the infamous cell blocks holding the worst of the worst. We accepted the call, and a new ministry was started. Two days a week we drove 220 miles to reach the prison.
Here is where God led Yvonne to a certain cell, where a young man was who had lived a very hard life. Yvonne did her best to lead him in a different way. He told her something she shared with me while we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge. He had not received any contact from anyone while in prison for 26 years. When we got home we called a couple of friends asking them to write, and Paper Sunshine was born. Many call it the Pen Friend Program.
We are in a desperate need of folks to write to inmates. It is a very safe program, without revealing your address or even the state where you live. We are jammed with requests and need to reach the unreachable. There are some who don’t like to write but who are good on the computer, and they can write through email. Will you try Paper Sunshine? Will you carefully and prayerfully read Hebrews 13:3, Mathew 25, including the end?
We got a call from a college wanting to write to inmates. What a blessing. We worked out all the special conditions and sent them twenty names. It sure would be nice if church groups got involved. Please ask your pastors, Sabbath or Sunday school classes, Women’s and Men’s groups, as we need all the help we can get. Please join us and ask your friends to join us, too!
Continue to remember those in prison as if you were
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do
With all kinds of costs going up and wages going down, being a non- profit organization, we need all the donations we can get to keep us going, even if it’s just the widow’s mite. I still remember way back 40 years ago asking folks to donate $7.77 per year for 10 years, and many did. Those years are long past, as are many of the donors.
Don & Yvonne & Family
Here are a few letters and e-mails I have received since the last newsletter. This first one is from one of our Christian pen friends.
Dear Someone Cares,
This next one is an e-mail:My father spent many years in prison. When he passed away in 2010 I went through his belongings. I found letters from brothers in the faith, whom did not even know him. They wrote my dad to encourage him, give him hope, and remind him that God loved him! Those letters have forever changed me! I would love to pass on the gift! Jess
This e-mail from Jess really spoke to my heart! You never know whose life you can touch by being a Christian pen friend. In this case not only was the prisoner helped, but also his daughter.
Hello Ministry, my name is Tarnette, I have heard a lot of success stories about your Ministry, its impact on the prisoners who need a Christian pen friend. It is my desire to be deemed worthy to participate in this project. I will be eternally grateful. From, An Inmate
Here’s from another a daughter of a pen friend:
My mother passed awhile back and when we went through her letters we saw she wrote inmates a bunch and also supported your Ministry. If it was good enough for her please get us involved. Shirley and Janet
Here’s an excerpt from an inmate’s letter to one of our pen friends:
I recently got correspondence from an aunt and a cousin I haven’t heard from since the 1990s. I was blessed to hear from them. It is nice to know there are still people who care about me even when they have no reason to. You are at the top of that list. This March will mark 20 years we have been writing each other. It is crazy. There are men in prison who can’t even keep their marriages together after a few years, much less 20. That, I find, is an incredible blessing.
You’ve been so supportive and encouraging all these years and you are my pen-friend. What kind of saint are you to be so wonderful and generous?! I can only presume that it is Christ in you that has allowed us to persevere all these years as simply pen friends. That is a most welcomed blessing. I can only hope and pray that I will make you proud of me upon my release. I want to do right and will find the way to ensure that other prisoners are able to do the same. It would be a great honor to be able to live up to my father’s name: Moses.
Thank you so very much to everyone that helps with this Ministry!
We unfortunately lost a lot of information when our computer crashed, and are starting to rebuild, such as our deposit slips and your receipts. If you need them soon call us or email us with the amount and we will send your receipt right away. This is a good time to warn you about offers on your computers. Some offers can look very tempting, but there are many scams and viruses waiting to attack, so please be careful what you click on or open. We have worked with police about these types of fake information. The internet is also a terrible trap for our youth, and I will let Jake deal with that in next month’s letter.
It is nice to be part of this Ministry along with my daughter and grandson, as a family-based Ministry. However, I wish we all could be back in California, as this cold at minus 14 degrees is very bad. Last Christmas we got a lot of cards, some homemade, and some for my birthday also.
We have met some very
bad folks in prison. We
helped some of them find
the Lord, and some of
them totally changed. This
is a friendship Ministry, not
a “let’s lead him or her to
our Church (or religion).”
To watch my husband
change into becoming a
Christian from a grammar
school drop-out, and then
ordained as a minister is a
real blessing. I will admit
that walking the yard
among inmates who might
hurt you was a bit scary at
times, but know we had
God’s blessing made it
pretty easy. I want to ask all
my friends to join us in this
Ministry in some way. If
only with prayer.
We don’t know when Jesus is going to return so we are adjusting for that event. Our daughter Ronna has been helping and will continue to expand her work. Our grandson Jake is returning to this Ministry, as well as his girlfriend Brittany. They will be our base. I will be 82 in June and Yvonne and I will keep an eye on things and continue to help until Jesus comes or we go. Retirement is a long forgotten thought. We pray that Voice of Prophecy will once again have us on the radio as in the past. Most of you joined through them. Jesus will help us as he has for years.
When I first accepted Christ it took a while. But Pastor Retizer made it easier, although I was in his Bible class a long time. Amen! We have ministered at Soledad, San Quentin, Avenal. Corcoran, San Quentin, Eddyville, Jacksonville, Paso Robles Boys School, and Florence Crane. We believe our mission field has been successful, and our Pen Friend Program has been very successful, reaching 75% of the US prisons. The key people were Pastors Ritzier, Finn, Lee Grady,Chaplain Reed, Chaplain Howard, Michele Johnson, Mona, Larry, Betty, Shirley and most of you.
Special mention to Omar’s Generator, The Printing Press (with our Newsletter), Michelle Wendt who edits the newsletter, Roger and Betty who gave a large donation, Michelle Johnson whose donation awhile back will allow us to finish a book and video or DVD which is all about of course YOU. God does have a sense of humor giving a school drop-out the chance to fulfill all of Matthew!