Quietly Changing Lives
We are often asked how big our Ministry is, but we have no idea since many of you are writing direct, others received names from us and are writing but forgot to send the Blue Form back. However, we can safely say that we have reached over one million inmates through Pen Friends and three Bible schools we use now for Bible studies, as well as many other schools in the past. Not all inmates finish their studies, but plenty of seeds have been planted.
Other ministries and organizations continue to send inmates’ names to us, because we have a good reputation as a Pen Friend Ministry. Those of you who have never written or donated, we are asking that you please do.
We also ask for your prayers – there are so many things to pray for. Please pray we can again get on a radio program such as Voice of Prophecy or anything else appropriate. For thirty years Yvonne and I spoke in at least two churches a month and were able to encourage many folks to be a part of Paper Sunshine. When you get this I will have turned 82. Driving is a bit hard as my eye sight is not as good as it should be, and flying is a bit expensive, so we aren’t travelling much anymore. Another prayer request is for Yvonne, who would like to hear from friends of her parents Clyde and Vera Groomer.
There are so many of you to thank, and you know who you are. We know that when we get to Heaven we are going to meet those of you we have never met.
Looking for help right in front of us, I was wandering through our computer and saw quite a few names we matched who wrote, but they got no answer. We got in touch with them and a bunch are writing again. Then I got on the computer and contacted women’s clubs and so far those are adding to writers. If you have any ideas for recruiting more writers please send them our way. Ask your Pastor to maybe put a notice up somewhere. Please also tell your Pen Friend you can write them after they get out of prison.
We can get thousands of
inmates’ names, but getting
them matched up is hard. I have
contacted a lot of folks through
churches and friends, and have
tried to explain how easy it can
be. Writing a letter takes about
15 minutes or so. So little time
once a month, but so much
Don & Yvonne
Jesus is the one who started this Prison Ministry. He gave us our instructions, which were pretty clear. Join us for a “walk” as we take you through our Prison Ministry Journey.
We will start at San Quentin. Walking into that prison was a bit of a hike. We did not need an escort, so we drew the keys and went to the Chapel. Chaplain Howard had assigned us to C-Block, which was for very hard core inmates. We both carried our big cases filled with Christian material. This Block had five tiers with 50 cells a tier. Inside each cell was a bunk, toilet and sink and not much else. We could feel the hate and fear. The stench was not pleasant. At first we stayed together but soon we split up to cover more territory. I’ll let Yvonne share her own experience.
The first cell we came to was an experience we will never forget. Inside was a large man with hair half way down his back and a beard just as long. It really smelled bad in his cell. This man yelled at us and told us where to go.
We went on introducing ourselves around the Block, trying to deal with these problems. We passed around our reading and writing material. We tried to have prayer with inmates, but that was not always accepted. Their main request was to try and contact family members. Yvonne has always believed “Do the crime, do the time.” But we also knew that these men were sent to prison for punishment, not as punishment.
Over a year later we passed by the cell of the man with the long hair who we had met our first day there. He called out to us. He told us the State had taken away everything, but he still had some money. He said, “Sell me what you are selling to others, I beg you!” All this is paid for, we told him. “No!” he exclaimed. “I have seen men changed here, and I want some of what you are selling.” Yvonne pushed in front of me, while behind us were five gun rail guards who all moved into place, ready for danger. Yvonne told the man about Jesus and all He had to offer, and that it was free. After about an hour of talking, Yvonne asked him to have prayer with us. We moved close and reached for his hand—five rifles clicked, loading bullets. Yvonne prayed, then she asked him to pray (Heaven has never heard a prayer like his!), and then I closed with prayer. We gave the man a Bible and told him we would be back. Every time we came back he changed a bit more. Yvonne had to have surgery, so we missed seeing him for a few weeks. When we got back he was gone. They had released him to the main line. We went to see him in his new cell block, and when we got to his new cell we were shocked.
He was clean shaven, had short hair and was praising the Lord. We were able to help that man by giving of our time, and you can do the same from the comfort and safety of your home. If you are not already, please become a Pen Friend and spread some Paper Sunshine with us.
Like many other folks we never thought our son would get in trouble. We have gotten your newsletters for years, read them and did nothing. My son went to a party, got drunk and driving home hit another car and killed someone. The shock took a while to wear off…that was seven years ago. I would like to share a letter from our son:
Dad, Mom, I want to share a bit of good news. I know what I did hurt you bad and I’m sorry. I also felt sorry for myself. I remembered Someone Cares and contacted them. They got me a Bible study and a Pen Friend. They wrote often and shared Christ with me. I had gone to Church with you and Dad all my life, that’s all we did. I have learned what a Christian is and would like to share it with you. I never remembered us sitting down and studying. Dad played golf after Church. We never had prayer when eating or when friends were in need. I pray when I’m released we can “Gather at the River.” I love you and now pray we can be a part of the Family of God. Steve
May God bless you both for how you are changing lives, giving hope to those incarcerated. I work hard in Prison Ministry here in Spokane. At Church I was handed two names and a copy of your ad. I had seen it, too. I will submit these names to you. Doug (Thanks, Doug. If we all worked together the trumpet may sound.)
I have worked in prison for many years and seen it all. I heard that a new team was joining the staff. More volunteers? I met Don & Yvonne the day they started. Not the usual Christian volunteers. A week after they started Yvonne came and asked me to make a sign for the Chapel. “All Faiths Chapel.” I got it done. I also found out they were self-supporting and full time. They worked full time to be here for free. They worked to pay themselves. Yvonne, a nice looking lady. It did not take long for the services to increase and attendance to grow. Yvonne played the piano and a convicted preacher led song service. Visiting in prison is tough, so Yvonne and Chaplain McClure went and shared and prayed with family. Don worked with the hard core inmates in the cell blocks and held three Chapel services every weekend. Yvonne got permission to build a baptismal and they and inmates did it. How it held water and lasted so long is beyond me. Over religion they with their volunteers taught remedial reading.
They supplied nice used clothes for inmates being released, lots of them. Before that was built three friends were being released. They wanted to be baptized together. Yvonne went to a local store and bought a kiddy wading pool. I understand the biggest inmate Don had to stand on his chest to get him under the water. They also helped organize a Correctional Officers Bible Study and Clowns for Christ All Lifers. Most of this fell apart when they moved South.I still remember the joy they shared in Jesus’ name. These are real folks who want to be sure everyone is saved.
Don and I are overjoyed
with our problem. With
restrictions on driving, do
we give up? No. We have
done a great job working at
many prisons in California,
Kentucky, Michigan, Indiana
and Arizona. God led, and
we have followed. The Pen
Friend Program is starting
to grow very large; we can
handle that. We could get a
partner, we might put it for
sale, but Don would buy it.
We both have the same
feeling that what we do
leads someone else to
Jesus. The cold does get to
us both, and we both fell
twice this winter. We can let
those involved answer the
question: What does Paper
Sunshine mean to you?
Ask your inmates. We have
been amazed about many
things, such as we have
never had a month in the
red. Amen. Each time a
stamp is put on a letter to
an inmate a spike is put into
Satan. Let’s make him into
a porcupine! We so look
forward to that sea of glass
and meeting all of you
soon. Side by side we stand
seeking God’s command.
The last two winters here were terrible and we were house-bound a lot with Ronna and Jake taking us places. Any one got a place in warm weather they are not using? If so, let us know. Please keep us in prayer as Yvonne has to have massive dental work, followed by eye surgery. Although it’s not serious, it will be expensive. Also, Ronna needs hip replacement and foot surgery.
I took your advice and went to your web page. Then I went to archived newsletters. My pastor put some of the stories in our bulletin and you have seen the results. We are all praying you get back on V.O.P or the donations come in to get you on the air again. Their web page is www.someonecares.org.
Peace be with you my beloved brother. We here know your birthday is near. So many of us are blessed by what you and your bride have done for the thousands of inmates you serve through Jesus. What you have done and will do is amazing. My Jesus loves you both and blesses you as He has through you. Daniel
Being without you makes it feel like a century
I'm stuck in here for the crime I did
I hate myself for missing the birth of our kid
They can't make enough bars to keep me from you
I am sorry for all the pain and hurt I put you through
Ten years of my life has been spent in this place
I will never come back when I see my son's face
I want to spend the rest of my life cheering you up when you are down
I swear I will change this time around