Quietly Changing Lives
Did you miss us last month? For the very first time in 35 years we did not put out a newsletter! This was not by choice – June was a very tough month for us. I became very sick and spent nine days in the hospital. Then Yvonne fell and broke her hip, had surgery and was hospitalized for four days. Now that we are home and recovering, we’ve decided that from now on we will be doing the newsletter every other month, mainly to cut down on expenses. Also, we’re not getting any younger … I’m 82 and Yvonne is 75.
We’re not the only ones who seem to be slowing down, as many people have stopped writing. We are having to cut costs where we can, and had to stop ads in eight magazines recently. This makes it even harder to find folks to write and support this Ministry. Ronna, Jake, and Brittany are carrying the load for us with Yvonne and I in the background. We will always be a part of this Ministry, God willing. We do not want to leave what God has allowed us to do for almost 40 years. Looking back at the many miracles God sent our way is really fun.
When I became a Christian at the age of 40 I never knew what God would send my way, especially the blessed gift of my wife, Yvonne. I ended up teaching the Bible as I learned along the way – not in Church, but in prison. Less than a year later Yvonne and I were both full time Chaplains of Soledad Prison. We were ordained soon after and over the years we became Staff Chaplains in six different prisons without any pay. Way back then we made an appeal for 300 folks to support us with $1.50 a month for 7 years. By the Grace of God, His riches kept this Ministry growing.
…Words of men so often deceive us, what says the Bible to me?
We have shared so many stories over the years. We invite you to go to our website at www.someonecares.org and check out the archived newsletters and read about all our experiences.
In God’s Word He gives all of us directions to go to prison and visit the inmates. Someone Cares makes this easy for you to do. Paper Sunshine is risk free letter writing, and has lit up many cells and changed many inmates’ lives. With the help of other Ministries, mainly Voice of Prophecy, we have had over a million inmates complete Bible studies.
Will you please share your experiences as a Pen Friend? Good or bad, we would like to hear your stories, or your inmate’s stories, art or poems. Your experiences can provide much encouragement for others, or can possibly warn other Pen Friends of what not to do. Ronna is keeping a file with all of your submissions and will be sharing them over time.
Yvonne and I were working at Eddyville Prison and kept hearing that Lakeland had no Chaplains. They had been working with volunteers for a long time. Our Warden wrote this recommendation about us:
Now we have two experienced full time Chaplains and both have had lots of experience in Maximum Security, like San Quentin, Soledad and Eddyville. Don was a state-raised juvenile and very street savvy. He met Yvonne and became a Christian. Don had worked himself into a high paying job, but he was told if ever asked to do anything the Lord could help him do it, such as leading him to Soledad as a volunteer Bible teacher. Soon he accepts the job as full time unpaid Chaplain at Soledad and Yvonne came along. Their Ministry started many programs in prisons, dress outs, letter writing, remedial reading, stop smoking, pre-release and re-entry programs. They are not State-paid. Their first service will be Christmas Day 1993.
This ministry has done so much for so many people inside and outside of prison. It is something that I have grown up with in my life. It is also something I plan to keep my hands in forever. It is an amazing feeling knowing that I can help do God’s work by helping others. There are a lot of inmates that want someone to write to. But like my grandfather said we have had to cut back on a lot of expenses like advertisements, and for the first time in years did not send out a newsletter due to my grandparents’ health situations. It is getting harder and harder to find Christians who want to write to inmates. But I know God has a plan! He himself has the power to do all. But I still want to ask each and every one of you to please ask someone you know, someone you care about, to just sign up and read that first letter from an inmate. God will do the rest. There is such a good feeling knowing you can give someone that little light of hope. Knowing you could be that one person they have to talk to in their time of loneliness no matter what they have done in the past. They may not know about Jesus, never heard of God before. Teach them; show them how much He can change their lives for something as simple as believing. He can give motivation to someone in prison to do a kind act for another, motivation to change their ways even though they know there is no chance of them ever getting to be free again. It is a beautiful thing that everyone has a chance to take part in. This ministry is something that God has given us. Take advantage of that! So once again I ask PLEASE just tell someone about us and what we do. Encourage them to just try us out. We need your help, folks. GOD BLESS! Jake
Laughing at the jokes told in the night
But our laughter is empty.
The corner over there you find the preaching.
While over at the tables someone is teaching.
There’s guys at the tube watching the news.
Poets in their cubes writing the blues.
Dudes under the stairs fighting over words,
Only free thing around here are birds.
People lying in their bunks lost in thought,
Stuck on the days before they got caught.
A radio playing a new funky rhythm
Has me thinking of family…sure wish I was with them.
Spending each day living in the moment,
Hoping for freedom till the day I won’t.
Knowing eventually the time will come
I’ll put this life behind me; my time will be done.
I’ll look back and see the walls and realize
I’m just another memory fading in its halls.
I’ll carry with me all the lessons from prison days
And all the words of wisdom that made me change my ways.
They’ll remind me there’s nothing as precious as time.
Maybe I’ll remember that before I turn to crime.
We started writing to Cindy
in 1991 thru your Ministry but
went private and have more or
less adopted her. We would visit
her on an average every 1 or 2
years until her release in 2014.
She is now part of a church in
the Indianapolis area and the
head elder and family have
befriended her, as well as 2
non-Adventist preachers in the
area that provided a place in
their home for her. I just wanted
you to know she is now a
member of your Seventh-day
Adventist family, with a lot of
thanks to you and God.
We have received so many blessings over the years. People we have never met have become our best friends. We have had prayers from all over the place. God has blessed this Ministry and us a whole lot. When I was in the hospital with a serious problem, I was not aware. Your prayers did so very much. Although very medicated, Yvonne was with me day and night. Our doctor is very good and we have prayer at every meeting. It was a great way to lose weight and now I have no excuses to keep it off.
I would like to ask all of you to pray for Larry and Mona. They are powerful Christians and what they have been through for the last ten years would make anyone buckle. Larry lost his job and they could no longer be Faith Partners, but got their Church to send a nice donation.
We have had a slowdown in getting folks to write. Mainly because of all the crime on the news. I was looking for a name on my computer and came to a name of someone who had written, but then stopped. I called and asked if she would take a new name. She said yes and was sad her inmate had quit writing. That worked so well I called twenty more and was able to match 30 inmates. AMEN!
Yvonne and I then watched the President on TV as he spoke about conditions which we have talked about for years. He was talking about reduced sentences for non violent criminals. That might cut the system population in half. The injustice of the system has been a thorn in our side for years. A revamped system will affect crime on the streets. Also it will make some of the programs we started valid again. We will try to help others do what we’ve done in Prison Ministry, and we ask for your prayers and support. We might even take a trip to California! Amen.
Don & Yvonne