|Vol. 1998 No. 7
GOD has once more called for Someone Cares, Yvonne and I, to go where He wants us to go. When we left California we never thought we would be moving back. We did not leave "Our Hearts in San Francisco," yet more and more things kept happening to us showing that we were needed there. We prayerfully asked God that if He wanted us in California again, to show us the way. He parted the water and sent us a pair of saints who have pro-vided us with a home and a way to afford it all. Say a big Amen to Nancy and Steve! We will be based In Visalia, within easy reach of seven prisons and all the wonderful church friends we left seven years ago. To think of serving God, and being back home, brings joy to our hearts. We were recently sent a box of avocad-oes from a friend there. Yvonne took a seed, put out the fleece as Gideon did, and said, "If this grows we will plant it in California, as God will find a way"
The tree has flourished abundantly and is now six inches high. We will be planting that tree, and God's word, in California and all points East. Please ask your pastors to book us as we want to be busy everywhere right away.
Friends, let me tell you it is really expensive and will tap our reserve a bit. If you are not a Faith Partner but want to be a part of the excitement ahead, please send what you can. We are taking every short cut we can to be good stewards of the Lord's funds. God will bless every extra dime you send and we will use it to His Glory. Isn't it neat that when we move to Heaven there will be no pack-ing, no decision on what to take or leave, no negotiating for the moving van, no boxes. That trip is prepaid and we have a reservation!
The first thing we will get started is one of the very first programs we had, providing free clothes for inmates who have no money when they are released. We still hope this program will inspire other ministries to join in making it a nationwide program.
We need to really expand the Pen Friend Program by starting Care Groups in all major areas this ministry reaches, which seems like everywhere. Mary writes: I wanted to write and say hello. I can't share enough how you two are a blessing to so many. When I needed a friend, I was sent an application with a Bible course I signed up for. I did not even ask, but God knew. I now have a Christian Pen Friend because someone really cared. Getting mail is like getting a visit as you can read the letters over and over.
With so many joining us, we will start a one-to-one visitation program in every California prison with men and women inmates already involved with our Pen Friend or Bible study programs.
We want you to know we have adopted our Pen Friend as a spiritual brother, not through legal paper work, but through Holy Spirit intervention cemented in our hearts. I knew Amos was a gift from God, as did my husband. Although I was a Christian longer than Amos, he began teaching me spiritual things right away that I that was unaware of. God's word does say "God blesses those who bless others." Being involved with your ministry really shows what it is to be a Christian.
Although I read your column regularly, I have never been motivated to write until now. The letter from the Crestview inmate did it. I am incarcerated in Michigan a long time-long enough know that the Pen Pal scam your inmate claims is common is not common at all. I believe the vast number of inmates who correspond with people they've never met do not try to manipulate them for money, stamps, cigarettes and so forth. I write to several folks and enjoy their friendship and would not risk losing it. I also don't want to be put in the same category as that clown.
Another writes: I have been an inmate and know more about prison life and inmates than the generally misinformed public. One of the first things I learned about inmates, being one, is that they are fathers, brothers, sons, cousins, a true cross section of the American public. For him to say all inmates are con artists is as ludicrous as saying all postal workers are gun-toting homicidal maniacs.
We handle more inmate mail than all the other ministries put together. We are so familiar with our Pen Friends that we just need to spot check 10% of the mail now. Sure, men and women in prison ask for money and stamps. In twenty years I have reported 11 inmates for sexual letters. I have advised, then rematched, inmates who asked for money too often. With the safety valves we put in place, problems are rare.
I wish we could match every hard core inmate; we would guarantee a change in them. These tough, shank (knife)-packing guys cry just like you and me. Thousands of inmates have been and are writing through us, and a whole bunch are writing their friends direct, as they have built up trusting friendships. There are sick people in prison, and often mental cases. We weed these out as gently as we can.
I will print any negative letter or bad experience any of you have had. Printing the good stuff would take months. We do not allow problems from the get-go. When an inmate writes asking for a woman 20 to 30 we send a stern note to the hustler. The application the inmate must fill out details the rules. There have been few problems because of this, and we promptly handle any that do arise.
We are often asked if you can still write your Pen Friends through us when they are released. Yes. My dear friends, if your friend does not write right back, think of this: They may not have a, pen, pencil, paper, envelope, and most important, a stamp. Please write once a month until they answer.
Because of massive gang activity, inmates are being moved all over the U.S. If you lose yours in the shuffle, write the Chaplain or the Department Of Corrections in their State. We cannot take the time to do this for you. Work out a middle person if you must. Please.
During our last broadcast I got a call from a church in Columbus, Ohio wanting to get involved with writing. We will take 100 names, they said; I sent 50 that day. We also matched hundreds of others. Now, once this Church got the names, they had to have a meeting on how to do what-ever. Then they thought it would be wise to have us come down and explain. The inmates waited. Finally I had them send the names back. Brothers and sisters, we need not have committee meetings to get God's work done! We matched over 1,000 inmates that week-all but the fifty. Now, some of you have received a name and have not written. Please do so TODAY.
Prison Chaplains are often the loneliest people in the world. The prison system wants them to be cops, and the Lord wants them to be preachers. If there is a prison near you, or the one your Pen Friend is in, call and wish them well or send a thank you note from you and us.
A question that often comes to my mind is: Are we living the life that would reflect Christ to those we come in contact with on a daily basis?
I am now getting a dose of the sorrow and frustration that you people must experience all the time. Allow me to tell you about my prison friend Max. (Max was married the second time). I am telling this story in almost exactly the way he wrote it in a letter to me. I have corrected the multitude of spelling mistakes, but this is Max's story:
"We were married for ten years and I was the happiest guy in this world. We had two beautiful daughters. We were the closest family you could ever meet...
"My wife's Mother took sick and passed away and that's when my life became a living hell. My ex-wife went nuts and told me to leave and never come back. At the time I had nowhere to go and no friends to turn to so I loaded up my truck and drove for two hours when I came to a town called Fort Pierce, Florida, and there I went to work and turned to the bottle and my drinking got out of hand.
"Two weeks later, the police came and arrested me for kidnapping my own kids. I tried to explain but no one would listen to me, so off I went to jail. That's when I found out Linda is the one that had me arrested.
"Well, my court date came, but I couldn't get anyone to tell the courts what happened. I knew I was in trouble. I called Dad and told him things were looking bad for me and looks like I will be going away for awhile. Six months later I was sentenced to life in prison and that was in July 7, 1980. I have been locked up ever since."
My question now is ... HOW CAN I HELP HIM??? I am willing to do whatever I can. I would like to get a lawyer for him. He says he is working on an appeal right now but I don't want him to do it alone. He is a simple man (NOT meant as an insult). He needs caring, concerned legal help! I desperately want to help him. He became a Christian in prison. Praise the Lord and we are praying that God will make a way!
Thank you to both of you. Thank you Thank you.
God has blessed us in so many ways here in Michigan. We have learned more and will take that learning experience with us wherever we are. We are told to Brighten the Corner where we are, well we do this through where you all are. We pray all of you stay with us as we go forward. Two people who have made a massive difference in this ministry are Jean Winter, who takes what I send her and makes it all come out so neat each month. We are blessed she will continue doing our newsletter. Darrell Ferree has been a right arm to us as a Board member. Now he will be a long arm reaching back to Michigan where we will still be somewhat entrenched. When you receive this news-letter, it will be an instant change of address for all of you writing inmates. So write your pen friend now using the California address:
Don't forget to remind your Pen Friend about the new address as well.Agape,
Don's praise is very flattering and the ministry's showers of love are appreciated. The gift of writing, editing, or whatever is needed come from God, and His intervention in keeping the devil out of the computer this year have been awesome to experience. This machine is due at the "hospital" as soon as this issue is off to the printer, for major memory upgrades as well as any other corrections in software installations. Once more we should have the graphics that make the news-letter fun.
There's an empty spot in my heart already for the McClures; they've been physically present in Michigan and that presence will be 'way out in California now. The technology that can produce so many web sites with evil content also carries sites where we can study the Bible on line, retrieve our week-ly lessons with explanatory material, comfort and encourage our friends and look after them via Email, the possibilities are endless. Maybe one day Don and I will compile a list of extra-good sites to visit for you.