Quietly Changing Lives
Jesus is coming, and after this last year we pray that it is very soon. Both inmates and free folks are getting involved in this ministry. Church attendance, which had fallen off is growing. Fear of the changes that the future holds did affect our funding but that will work out. Yvonne and I are a year older. I think back to when I was forty. Now near 84, I am waiting for warmer weather and to play golf and tennis, ping pong and running. The rest of the time we are moving mail in our Pen Friend Program. Yvonne - due to a fall - will not be as active but will be as busy. Ronna is on the spot always. God has been so good.
When I first became a Christian things were not easy. I had to learn to walk the walk. When God called me, and then called us to prison ministry, it was really a challenge, but God was and is in charge. Learning to understand the Bible was not really hard, but teaching it was quite a challenge. I grew up in the world most of these men and women came from. This helped. Yvonne grew up in the church. This really helped. Prison is a terrible place with people who have done terrible things. The real hard core and gang members did not attend service so we had to go to them.
When Yvonne started this 5 or 6 days a week things changed. More than that it changed everything we have done since. They had prayer groups, study time and she and I could talk to each person one to one. That is vital we need to say that both of us were required to go through massive training at the police academy (three of them) and on the job. We have both spent hours on the yard without escorts and in all cell blocks, standing in front of their cells talking to the men... as staff (unpaid) volunteers but self supported 501C3. We also were able to train others to do what we do but not without supervision.
Yvonne came up with an idea which took a conversion of several homes. We had a big garage full of racks of clothes. Over the year in California we provided free dress outs to over 100,000 inmates being paroled. When an inmate is released they get very little money, and without dress outs they had to buy prison clothes. Many men came to the Chapel because of what she did. We had the help of many churches, ADRA and community service. Remember us in your gatherings, Dorcas, and pot lucks. It is so much fun being a Christian.
This was matching a free person with and inmate for a monthly visit - male to male and female to female. Over the years we adopted and improved that process. I can tell you of my experience. I was matched with a black inmate. We met in the visiting room. I could feel the tension as others looked on. We had little in common but he stated that this was a program that kept him sane. Sitting in a cell is very restrictive. They are not able to share and keep so much inside. Most prisons have Bible studies but even those do not let the inmate open up. Most prisons do not let the person holding the study visit or talk one to one with the inmates.
Lots has been said about Russia in the last year. Here is another bit from there. In 1994 two Americans were hired by the Russia Department of Education to teach morals and ethics (based on Biblical principles) in the public schools. They were invited to speak in prisons, businesses, and fire and police departments, and also at a large orphanage. They related the following story in their own words.
It was near the holiday season in 1994, time for orphans to hear for the first time the story of Christmas. They told the children the entire story - the stable, the birth, the manger. The children sat in amazement. When we finished the story they gave each child 3 pieces of cardboard to make a manger. Each child was given a small paper square painted yellow and cut into strips. The children laid them as straw. Given cloth, the children laid that as a blanket. A small baby was cut from felt that we gave them. A worker walked among the children to see if they needed help. One little boy, Misha (about six) had two babies in his manger. I called for a translator and asked why. He started telling the story in his own way. He was pretty upbeat and correct until it came to putting the babe in the manger. Jesus asked him if he had a place to stay. “I have no mama or papa so I have no place to stay.” He said I could stay with him but he didn’t have a gift to give. I wanted to stay with Jesus so much. I asked Him if I kept him warm would that be gift enough. Jesus said if you keep me warm that is gift enough. Jesus looked at me and said I could stay with him forever.
There are some really terrible people in prison, some people that will never change no matter what we do. Our organization has gotten big and some letters slip through. If you have a problem with an inmate, return all information. We will take over and assign you a new name. Satan is running wild and the world’s conditions are terrible. But we are God’s kids. He is there for us and we are here for you. If you tried writing before and it did not work, try again. Please read the following carefully. When you write a letter to your Pen Friend you address it to them with name and number. The return portion has your name or pen name and our address. Someone Cares should not appear anywhere on the envelope to the inmate. If they ask for something and you are not able to deal with it, contact us even if you have to call collect. Conditions in prison are as bad as they have ever been. As you read this, thousands of inmates are looking for something to make a weapon with. Hundreds of inmates are stabbed or beaten every day. We here have been able, with your help, to turn around the lives of many terrible people. I was a bad person and Yvonne turned me around and the Lord took me in. Amen! If you follow all the rules and ask questions, all will be neat. If you fail with one inmate let us know and we will match you with another, and one of us will take your old one. We ask all of you if you have had a problem let us share it with all. I just got off the phone with a lady that took her female Pen Friend in when she was released. She stole her blind and some of her friends also. She is on her way back to prison.
Put your letter to the inmate inside a stamped envelope like this:
Then put the envelope with your letter in a stamped outer envelope addressed to us like this.
Last month ended a year with the celebration of the birth of Christ. What does that mean for us followers of Christ? Massive sales, parties, tons of gifts, black Friday, and rumors of war. Everything rushing to the very last second? God is so good He gave us a choice. For a moment reflect of Jesus standing in Pilate’s hall: friendless, forsaken, betrayed by all. God is so good. He gives us a choice what would you do for Jesus. Start the New Year not as Pilate did evading him. Neutral you cannot be. Someday our hearts will be saying, “What will He do with me?” We here at Someone Cares pray that we will all focus on Jesus. Would Jesus invite you to get involved somehow with Prison Ministry?
I am excited that we are really expanding. We have opened many doors and turned many heads. Building this ministry also has made me work on the future. We can assure you that no matter what happens to me, this ministry will go on. We know who holds the future. One thing age has done is that I no longer drive. So speaking appointments are not easy. A source of our income is Love Offerings. We sure need some of you who have never supported this ministry to jump in the waters. A couple of big donations will really help. If you are connected with a charitable organization, tell them about us. Whatever you can do, God will grant the increase. We are in need of a good scanner and one more updated computer.
Some feel letter writing is a lost art. Not at all. We have set up Pen Friend via computer. You e-mail your inmate or inmates. We snail mail your letter to them. We scan their answer and make suggestions or give advice and e-mail it to you. Lot of work but it will prevent all problems as we will stop them.
First - Jake, our grandson, is getting married to Brittany. Second - Jake’s dad Mike, who has spent the last fifteen years in prison, is free. And third - as always - Ronna helps us with everything.
We have several letters here, and we do not know who they
belong to. I will list the names and if you think the letter might
belong to you please call us at 260-387-7423. I am sure there are
several inmates waiting for you to write back. Here are the names,
Jim, Sis, Jan, Erin, Elke Estes, Sister Bernadette, Jane Brett, Dave F,
M. Martha, John Miller, Dawn Pallozola, and the last one is Joe
Scaffids. Thank you so much for all you do!
Don preached and he and his wife put on a Prison Ministry program. We started writing two inmates about twenty years ago. Reading their newsletters has helped us get others involved. I recommend all of you go to their web page Someone Cares Prison Ministry and read archived newsletters and share with your church. It is a blessing.
You write a letter and the inmate gets it. They may not have paper, pen, pencil, envelope or stamp. They can’t answer. Do you give up. Jesus would not. Write a second letter. If not answered, return all and we will send you new one or two or. We then will handle the 1st. Please, please do not just throw them away.