As you read through these submissions to Starfish Prison Ministries ask God to speak to your heart in His special way
The stories below are true, we have changed the names and generalized the locations to protect all of the persons involved.
It is our policy to respect the privacy of the person submitting the testimony. Personal information will not be discussed outside of our base staff, and even then it is primarily for prayer or praise purposes.
If this is to be a Happy New Year,
a year of usefulness,
a year in which we shall live to make this earth better,
it is because God will direct our pathway.
The Holy Spirit came to me when I was in a lost and reprobate state completely alienated from God. The Holy Spirit descended upon me as He did the waters of Creation and said, Let there be light and there is Light and the Light is Good!
A light of no earthly fuel, kindled by the Paraclete, unquenchable: all to the praise and glory of God the Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
My, our, salvation through the substitutionary atonement of the Blood of Jesus is finished through the work of the cross and the tomb; but our maturity or coming to full age, is a process. Here is such a process:
I grew up in an upper-middleclass home in a lake community in SE Wisconsin. There was no crime, drugs, or vice in my home. My father worked on repairing body damage on cars; and built sprint cars and super-modified dirt track cars. My mom worked in a bank and was a Cub Scout den mother. I never had holes in my clothes; I was never hungry or cold. I never wondered where I would sleep. We had everything, to anyone who looked at the outside of our lives.
A look on the inside was something completely different. There was much in the way of psychological and physical abuse. I was often beat and did not even know what I had done wrong. It made me mean and extremely aggressive, and this carried through in my life until Jesus gave me peace. Before this, I made sure I was strong and people knew it.
As a teenager I played sports, hunted, fished, and worked on farms and in restaurants. I was always very industrious, and though my parents could have given me anything I had to work for everything I had.
I was exposed, saturated, in the religion of the Roman Catholic Church until I was about 15 years old. I had gone to church on Sundays and Latin mass on Wednesdays until I was about 11, every week. I went to catechism for 7 years. I was baptized as an infant, participated in Holy Communion and Confirmation; and I believed in Christ of the cross and knew there was a God; but I didn t know Him.
I entered the military right after high school to get out of the house. I could have gone to any college; but I felt I needed to get away . I spent my life trying to get away from one thing or another since then until Jesus brought me home. Praise His Name!!
I broke my back fast roping out of a helicopter and was discharged under honorable circumstances; but I was lost. I had no goals. I became addicted to the painkillers that were given to me. I began to use alcohol to enhance the effects of the painkillers. I became everything I despised, and my journey to the Lord began.
My problems with the law began when I was purchasing stolen cars to fence to support myself. I would buy a car for $1000 and sell it 90 minutes later for $6000. I also began to sell drugs. I became overly superstitious; I worshipped the idols of lust and material possession; foulness and stench emitted from my mouth. Nothing was holy or sacred, but everything was to be had and used. I violated the rights and dignity of others and justified it by the fact that they were a drunk or a junkie . I went to prison, once for 20 months, and it didn t do anything but cause me to clean-up and refine my game Satan s game in me. This went on for about 9 years, on and off, but God was there the whole time. Jesus knew me still from when I was a boy and carried me through some things I d rather not write down. Though I didn t acknowledge Him for who He is and Satan deceived me (as he does the whole world), Jesus still loved me and came to me to call me upon His commission.
In 1999 I self-destructed. I was involved with organized crime (drugs, gambling, extortion, and prostitution) and I couldn t take it anymore. I thought I d steal enough where I could go away for 8-10 years and have an excuse not to be seen by my associates anymore. I pulled of the crime, got the money; but for some reason that I couldn t explain then, but I can explain today I hung around an extra 5 days to tie up loose ends and I was arrested. I know today the Lord caused me to stay those extra days for His purpose, today, to give this part of my testimony.
The journey through prison started in April 2000 when I was arrested, this past week it ended it has been a journey through the wilderness and across the Jordan River into God s rest and the Promised Land in Christ.
I had a conversion experience in 2001, after 9/11. Before that, I had been attending Catholic services, occasionally, mostly out of boredom and a sense of tradition; but after 9/11 I became fascinated with Islam and the determination, complete insanity, of a man who could fly an airplane full of human beings, he didn t even know, into a building full people he d never met. I found a Koran and a bunch of Islamic literature and would read it in whispers on my hands and knees. This went on for 4 months. I enjoyed the stories and I looked to this new god , and rejected God and Christ of the Bible. This was all part of God s plan as well.
My conversion experience occurred suddenly, without warning and at a time I felt certain peace and contentment. I was sitting up in the middle of the night listening to my walkman radio. Someone more brilliant than I can convey to you, came through a tear into my cell-be it angel or devil, I cannot say; but it took me , whether in body or spirit, I cannot tell you-but I believe it was in the body. First, it took me to the blackness and darkness of what I believe today to be Hell. I was wrapped in fear- it touched me actually-and I felt like I was going down a roller coaster hill that I didn t see a bottom to. I couldn t see anything-I didn t know up or down. All it was was the sound of 1000 s of horrible screams and laughter . Suddenly, an opening split over my head and I reached up through it. A hand grabbed mine and a voice like a car horn sounds when your head is under the hood called me Lazarus , and I was suddenly on my hands and knees in a snowy mountain range before the feet of Him the feet I believe to be those of Jesus, because of the marks on them.
Shortly before this happened to me, I had looked at the clock through my cell door and it was just before 3 a.m., when I came back it was just after 6:30 a.m.-it went by in an instant of time! My ears rung and my face was all red, something that has stuck with me since. I was absolutely terrified; I never read the Koran, or any of that stuff again.
There is much more I could tell you that has happened since, nothing so dramatic, but just as terrifying and wonderful. Some other time. Just know Heaven and Hell are Real!!
Much has been revealed to me since then through the Holy Spirit and the power of God s grace in my life, and the lives of my brothers and sisters in Christ. As a witness to others of the power of Jesus Christ in me, the Lord has done a healing which I have records from 3 different hospitals to prove. I had 3 chronic, fatal, organic heart problems. My heart even stopped once in the hospital for a minute and a half (documented). The Lord healed all of it as a witness before men to apply His ministry.
I live out the Apostolic Commission the Lord has appointed me to as the Light and Salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13-16), in the fear of the Lord. His Word is constantly in my spirit and on my lips. Satan has raised adversaries, most of them in the very authority (civil) I was under, and has entered the hearts of some Christians around me-all to no effect. I have much I could say upon this, but let God get the glory, Amen!
I remain faithful and true to the Lord. I am a witness, apologist, and evangelist. The Lord is going to entrust me with a great multitude to shepherd in the coming years. The Lord gives me the strength to do all I can, with all He s given me; every day His mercy humbles me. The Holy Spirit empowers me. Until we come to the end of ourselves, we cannot come to the beginning of God. I have endured a great trial of afflictions for God to approve me as His minister and apostle. (II Cor. 6:4-10;
I Cor. 4:9-16) I pray this testimony calls you to, come and see . Amen!!
See what the Lord Jesus Christ, can do!
Greetings, I will always remember the day when Jesus came to visit me! (Matt. 25:36) There I was…alone and broken sitting in a county jail cell in Wisconsin. As a result of 10 misconduct reports, I was under cell confinement…8 of which I received after being locked down! (1 Pet. 2:15; 5:7) I was losing my wife to alcohol, drugs, and other men. One of those men was now only a cell block away…the sound of his voice tormenting me day and night!
My closest relatives lived about 1000 miles away in Pennsylvania…where I was born and raised. This included my daughter who was recently raped by her stepfather. In addition, my brother layed in a coma as a result of a drug overdose. (Pr. 20:1; 23:30-32) My whole world was coming down around me and I couldn’t do anything to stop it!
The headlines read: “Accused Bank Robber Attempts Escape” and “Bank Robber Faces 67 Years”. (See Rom. 13:1-6) A short time later I came upon Galatians 6:7 which reads: ‘Be not deceived; God is not mocked: For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he reap’. At the age of 39, I faced my fifth prison sentence, and was slowly losing what little hope I had left (Pr. 13:12) In short, I had to get busy living or busy dying! Just then a weekly newsletter arrived from the Chaplain’s office…through it Jesus began speaking to my heart.
The newsletter spoke of making a New Years resolution to fall in love with Jesus…suddenly I knew that’s what had been missing in my life! (1 Cor. 13:4-7) Furthermore, it read: ‘Love is not just a feeling, it’s a choice and is demonstrated through our actions…either by what we choose to do or not to do’. I remembered hearing somewhere that God was love, and that He gave His only Son, Jesus, to die for our sins or wrong doings (John 3:16-17) I thought to myself…if there was anything else I needed besides love it was forgiveness. (1John 1:9; 4:10) I tried everything else and sat there with nothing…what could be wrong with giving Jesus a try? (Matt. 11:29-30)
On the 28th day of December, 1998 I opened my heart to my Savior, Jesus Christ, and was born again, in the spirit. (John 3:5; 6:37) According to II Corinthians 5:17, I was a new creation and my spirit was brought back to life! You see, about 15 years earlier I confessed Jesus as my Savior, but I hadn’t believed in my heart. (Rom. 10:9-10) In other words, I was missing Heaving by 18 inches…the distance between my heart and my head! The fact of this whole matter is, I was like a wild horse and needed to be broken! (Ps. 51:17)
As I continued to give myself to God’s Word, He became a guiding light to my path. (Ps. 119:105) Nevertheless, the devil used certain people to persecute me over my new way of life. (II Tim. 3:12-17) However, I prayed for them according to Matthew 5:44. As I hesitated to do the same for my wife’s adulterer, and my daughter’s perpatrator God spoke to me saying, ‘Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thine ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your path’. (Pr. 3:5-6)
Jesus is our first love! Today, He stands at the door of your heart knocking…what will you choose to do?
(Rev. 2:4; 3:20) My life-changing experience didn’t happen by chance, but by choice! (Heb. 11:25) ‘For whosoever shall call upon the Lord shall be saved’. (Rom. 10:13) My friends, I challenge you to experience the true love of God…nothing can satisfy its taste! (Ps. 34) How do I know what love is? Because every time I look into the mirror…I can see God looking back at me! :o)
We were asked to share how someone made a difference in our lives. There have been so many who have shown us compassion over the past 4 years that we simply cannot pick just one. The most significant one would be God, who promises in Romans 8:28 that things do work out. ‘And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.’ So many people stop at things working for good. They forget that God does have a condition to this. We need to love Him and follow His will for our lives. My wife posted this in English and Spanish over her desk at work. So that it would be a constant reminder of God s promise.
When a young member of our immediate family committed a heinous crime, our lives changed forever. Our character was questioned and people turned away from all of us like we had the plague. Yes, there was a crime, it was a very bad one, we did not do the committing; but we were related very closely to the one who did. Therefore, we must be bad people to have this sin in our family. We are so thankful that Jesus doesn’t see any of us like that. Not even this young man. Please understand, our family is no better than anyone else. We have learned a hard and wonderful lesson about God’s love. It just goes to show that it is better not to know how God is going to allow you to go through to become the person He would like you to be. I know we would have run the other way, but now we are stronger and so very blessed to have traveled this continuing journey.
In September 2002, the crime(s) surfaced. This member of our family was only 15, and he made a very bad choice, for what we pray is the last time in his life. We fully understand we all make bad choices, and will do so for our entire lives. But we have the choice to not involve others, and it is our prayer he will not re-offend in this area, Lord willing any legal area, ever again. With God s grace and help he will succeed. None of us is perfect, and God sees each of our sins as equal in degree, because of this we have become less apt to judge what others have done.
During this journey we have clung to Romans 8:28, claiming the promise, and struggling to listen to God. In August 2003, we were confronted by church leaders and told our character was under attack. We chose that day to leave that church, we have never regretted that decision. The next few months were very long. We struggled to keep the faith, with no church family and only a few key, godly friends to pray with us. This young man attended public school, for the first time ever, and showed that home schooling and private day schools are compatible with public. He also participated in counseling with two counselors, and his regular court dates. His only prayer was to be able to be home for Christmas 2003 and to finish at least one semester of school. God granted both his requests. In January 2004 we met with the pastor of a church that had been recommended to us by someone who knew our family s whole story. That church welcomed us to their fold. On January 25 we attended the first time, with the young man; on January 26, 2004 he was sentenced and taken away to a juvenile facility. No consideration was given that he turned himself in to authorities, cooperated in counseling, did not deny the crimes he remembered or even the one he still does not remember, or excelled in school (academically, respectfully, and behaviorally). He received, in essence, 20 years. On this day, we were upset, even angry with God; but weakly clung to this verse. Struggling to believe that good would come from it.
While attending our new church, one Sunday we found a flyer for prison ministry in the bulletin. In April 2004 we attended a Prison Fellowship Training class. My wife was already sensing God s calling, I went along to appease her. Little did we know what God had in store for both of us, and the blessings it would bring. He truly made a wonderful difference in our lives , which is continuously overflowing to the lives of others.
Since this time we have been involved in prison ministry and our lives are a joy, overflowing with blessings. Yes, we still cross the paths of those who turned from us in 2003 and they still turn their faces away. It saddens us that they still harbor such bitterness, and it is our fervent prayer that God would bless them in many wonderful ways, as He has truly blessed us. We have learned so many things that have helped so many others, and will one day help our young man. We learned so much about God and how much He loves us all, even those who the world considers unlovable. It is our human nature to turn from people and things that anger or disgust us, but if we are truly striving to be Christlike then we must do as He did. When we cannot do it on our own, God gives us the grace to do so. Jesus touched the lepers, He forgave the criminals, and He is willing to even forgive us. We are to follow His example, and He gives us His strength in order to succeed.
We do not understand the reason there is so much evil and sin in this world. Sure we know the old clichés, but that still never seems to make sense. Why would people choose evil over good, to harm instead of help, to turn from God; but in God s eyes we are no better. God calls many every day sins an abomination, so who are we to judge those who have made wrong choices. He also tells us to remove beam from our own eye, Luke 6:42. I guess the biggest difference in our lives is the blessing of the knowledge that we are no better than anyone else, no matter what choices they have made in their lives. God tells us to ‘Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbour as thyself .’ Luke 10:27. Who is my neighbor? ‘He that shewed mercy on him.’ Luke 10:37. We are to show mercy to those who have a need, we are to show compassion not to pass over to the other side.
Yes, it is God who made the most difference in our lives. He used several people, our true Christian friends who stood by us in our time of need. The young lady who insisted we see her pastor, the church who has surrounded us in true Christian love and acceptance, and the men/women who have made bad choices. They all contributed to making a difference in our lives, and now we are committed to making a difference in each life we touch. Whether they are inside prison walls or inside walls of the circumstances of their lives. God commands us to look out for others, even those who are in prison. We are to put ourselves in their place. Please take time to reach out and make a difference in someone s life . It truly changed ours. Thank you for the opportunity to share and may God richly bless you today and always. Seek God s wisdom in your choices and decisions, He will never steer you wrong. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. James 3:17-18 Such beautiful words from God are our closing thought. Be blessed.
Greetings to you in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord! This letter has been overdue in coming. I know that there are probably many stories I could write about, but one that seems to stick in my mind is where I spent Christmas 2005.
Just 10 days before Christmas I was put in TLU (Temporary Lock-Up) pending an investigation for contraband found which was not mine. During this time I pondered whether or not I was making an impact on anyone’s life in this prison. Regardless of my feelings, I remained faithful to trusting God that I was doing His will. This must be something from the devil, some test?
Along with the many Christmas cards, I received a few letters from men saying that they know I don’t belong here. I was set-up. God will work it out. Keep the faith. Along with other words to try and keep my spirit up.
What really got to me and brought tears to my eyes was when I read the story of how much help I had been to a certain individual by the many things I have said in Bible study groups, or while just working in the chapel. This person touched my heart and brought me to tears telling me how much of an encouragement I am to him.
He also said that he appreciates all the work that I have done in the chapel, and knows how hard I work for the Lord; even if others may not notice and thereby take it for granted. He said we are blessed by each other when we fellowship and sing praises to God; and how I asked God for a guitar to praise Him with and got one. I have been praising God, with music, ever since. He asked if I was praising God like Paul and Silas?
The wonderful thing about this is that I awoke on Christmas morning and the first thing I did before I got out of bed was to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to JESUS! Then after spending time in prayer for everyone I could think to pray for, I started singing songs of praise to God! A few hours later was when I received the letter of thanks and appreciation for all that I though was not making much difference in anyone’s life. Praise God!
I tell others all the time that when I play my guitar to lead a worship service or Bible study, I do it all for God’s glory. I really mean it from the bottom of my heart; but it is nice to receive a kind word every once in a while, just to remind us that we are doing God proud in the way we serve Him and others from the heart.
I was released from TLU 5 days later with a smile on my face and a song on my lips. I received many Bible verses to encourage me and some were the same ones I had just recently read, which just confirmed the confidence I already had in trusting God to handle the matter; and not worry about it any longer.
What God did for Joseph was pull him out of a pit and bless him and many others through the work of his hands. Jonah was put on dry land when he was in the pit of a whale’s stomach for 3 days and 3 nights. Three men went into the fire; but four were seen in the flames. The 3 men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendnego, came out not only unburned, but they didn’t smell of smoke. Praise God!
The lesson here, always put God first, trust in Him and do all you do as unto the Lord. If we get a thank-you once in a while; that’s great. If not, that’s okay because God is supposed to get the glory, not us. Thank God for the extra encouragement He sends when we need it; even if we are just pondering it over in our minds. Praise God!
My prayer is that this will be able to bring someone out of the pit of darkness, and into the light of Jesus Christ!
In Jesus’ Love & Service
I Peter 5:7; Hebrews 13:5-6; James 4:10; Philippians 1:6; Isaiah 40:31; Psalm 100
I would like to thank all the volunteers who come into the northern WI institution where I was, for helping me to grow spiritually. They are great leaders, examples, teachers, preachers, and friends to the offenders there.
In October 2005, I left that institution and came to one in southern WI. There I met an offender in intake. He was real sick and I asked if I could pray for him. He said to pray that Thor take him away (Thor is the pagan god of thunder). I still was a witness to him in Jesus’ name.
He is now with me in the choir and the prayer team at this southern institution, and helps out with the Christian services and Bible studies whenever he can. Praise God!
Thanks to friends in Prison Fellowship and Starfish Prison Ministries, and other ministries, I had the skills to “make a difference” in this ones life!
A prayer warrior
wherever He sends me,
I Timothy 2:6 & I John 2:27
I abused drugs for 30 years. I wasn t always an addict, I didn t begin my experimentation with drugs until I was twelve; and I didn t want to be a victim of abuse when I was young, but I was.
I now know the deeper meaning in my heart more personally when the Lord said, What the devil meant for evil, I will use for my Kingdom s good! We all have a testimony that God can use to tell other s how He can change a person s life. How? By talking to others about what He has done in your life. So here goes
I hid from a world I thought was not for me. I didn t like life, because of how it treated me as a child. I felt betrayed by someone I thought should love me and protect me, my earthly father. Yes, I forgive him because God forgave me and we must let go of past anger if we are to grow for the Lord in Love, and be able to share that Love with others. God is Love, isn t He? We cannot be an angry person and represent our Heavenly Father effectively for His Kingdom s growth.
What I did to handle life s trials that came my way was through drugs. It gave me peace , so I thought. It gave me love , so I thought. It gave me joy , so I thought; and it gave me a sound mind , or so I thought! This is exactly what the enemy wants us to believe, isn t it? The end result of this lifestyle is eternal separation from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; but the Lord is always with us. He tried to get my attention many times. I wouldn t listen! I continued to use. I never thought it would eventually lead to prison. I thought I was strong enough not to let myself go to that extreme , but that s how the devil works. He started me off on a journey that seemed innocent enough. You know what I am talking about, don t you? Just a little , or I can handle this , or I have everything in control , or I ll never be like those people . I, I, I…
The Lord tells us You can do nothing apart from me (John 15:5); but He also tells us, We can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). Well, I didn t have things in control. The devil had me exactly where he wanted me. Through his deception, I almost lost my life a few times through drug usage.
The Lord says, I have come so that you may have life, and have it more abundantly (John 10:10). After prayers from family and hearing testimonies from strangers , I started going to church. I prayed, Lord, if you re real, reveal yourself to me. He did just that. On April 28, 2002, I received the Lord into my life, and on May 7th, I was baptized into the wonderful name of Jesus Christ.
My Heavenly Father now protects me and I now have peace, love, joy, and a sound mind , not from the world; but from God. I don t need drugs to feel these emotions. I have the true presence of the Creator of our universe in my life. God can change your life too. No matter what you have been through, or are now going through, God is real. He can and will change you if you just ask Him to. The Word tells us we re born again in Christ. We re a new creation. Instead of resorting to our own attempts to resolve our problems; because we know they just don t work no matter how hard we try, let s give them to the Lord. Let me share a verse dear to my heart. Casting the whole of your care (all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all) on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. (I Peter 5:7).
When I now have fears and concerns about life and the future, I give it to the Lord. Instead of a temporary fix, such as drugs, I study God s Living Word for direction in my life. If you prepare now for direction through God s Word and have a strong support system, you will succeed in whatever you do. The Lord tells us in Proverbs 4:20-22, My son attend to my words; consent and submit to my sayings, let them not depart from your sight; keep them in the center of your heart, for they are life to those who find them, healing and health to all their flesh.
So I just want to encourage you to continue seeking the Lord. He hears your cries and He will reveal Himself to you as He did for me. If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ now, continue to seek Him for all you do. He will never let you down. He will never steer you in the wrong direction in life s obstacles that come your way. You are His child. He loves you and cares about you. He tells us we are special in His eye, and that s what matters, not what anyone might say about you. What God says about you is what matters, and He says you have great potential no matter what the past was. Here are some great examples of what God can do in your life.
In a manger, God saw a King
In a servant, God saw a Savior
In a sacrifice, salvation
In death, God was working at life
In defeat, He was looking at victory
God looks beyond the surface
Beyond the immediate troubles, God sees success
God looked at Adam, and saw a world
He looked at Abraham, and saw nations
In Moses, the murderer, God saw a deliverer
God saw a king in a shepherd boy.
So don t give up. Remember to have a strong support system. We all need someone we can go to for help, for a comforting word; someone to pray with, to help us get through our situation. I want to encourage you to go to the Bible studies and join men and women fellowship groups offered at your church. Whatever it is, get involved with fellow brothers and sisters that love the Lord and are doing the right things in life. Finally, reach out to others, tell them what the Lord is doing in your life, the Holy Spirit will help you.
Remember we can t conquer these obstacles in life by ourselves. As I just shared with you, I tried for 30 years to overcome drugs on my own and failed, again and again. My drug use only got worse; but through my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I can get through these hard times without drugs. The Holy Spirit lives inside us to be our helper in every situation, whatever circumstances we might face, our Helper offers direction. When we go through tough times or temptations, God s Spirit provides strength and encouragement; and He is involved in our lives immediately and personally. When the Lord tells us in II Corinthians 12:9, My grace is sufficient for you , He is simply telling us that His power in not intimidated by our circumstances. He is able to get us through anything; don t give up; He s there for you.
I would like to leave you with one last verse that I pray helps you. Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind; and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain you paths. Be Not wise in your own eyes, reverently fear and worship the Lord and turn (entirely) away from evil. It shall be health to your nerves and sinews, and marrow and moistening to your bones. (Proverbs 3:5-8)
I spent years trying to do things on my own, now I give it ALL to the Lord.
FROM SOMEONE WHO CARES, GOD BLESS.
American Heritage Dictionary defines a testimony as the following:
1) a declaration or affirmation of fact or truth
4) a public declaration regarding a religious experience
My story is much more complicated than this short writing will tell you. However, my testimony fills the above definition completely; but more importantly, shows the absolute power of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I cannot give you a date or time or month that I’ve accepted our Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Savior, all I can tell you is that He is and I am a Christian. Do I struggle, daily, however, because of God’s unending love, grace, mercy, power, I have no fears that I’m a lost soul. Because I’m not, Jesus never ever left me; but I choose to leave Him from time to time.
My testimony is this. God has healed my body, in that I had a huge kidney stone. The doctors saw it, they recorded it, and I felt it. They were going to decide what to do with it and at a last meeting of the doctors it was gone.
My testimony is that I have a lot of time left in prison, over 5 years. The Lord has moved me from a medium security status/prison, to a work release center where I’m working in the community to help me earn money to pay back my restitution.
My testimony is that God has entered my life and I live to please Him, to show, to give love to everyone. As one of the two new commandments, as spoken by Jesus, I have healed my heart. Oh my, not I, but my Lord. See, Jesus Christ has entered and healed my heart.
Let me tell you what I believe has been revealed to me. Our testimony is not a one time event or act or action; but it is the way we live our lives, daily, hour by hour, minute by minute. It is by this, which we show our commitment to the Lord. By our living testimony, anyone that sees us sees the love in our heart, our words, and our actions. Others will see our testimony. They will ask why we are different. God knows why!
I originally wanted to share more, to show the depths of despair I was in. I decided, however, that the purpose is not to dwell on the bad, but recognize the good. I was unable to receive the bookmarkers at our facility, and have never seen them. I do thank you for them, anyway. May God’s blessings fall upon you, and fill you with peace.
“Hurry up, Erica. You’ll miss them.” Every Sunday, when I was between the ages of 4-12, my mom would drop me off at my best friend, Linda’s house to attend Sunday school. I really enjoyed Sunday School…and playing hangman during the service. Still, a seed was planted. My parents divorced when I was 14 to make our dysfunctional family even worse. I was a loner and I turned to drugs at 17…Screech! Swerve!
“Ma’am, I pulled you over for speeding. I need to see your license, registration, and proof of insurance.” ‘Where am I’, I thought when the police officer walked back to his car with my papers. ‘I don’t remember anything of the last 2 hours. I must have slept the whole time without crashing.’ I knew I should have done more dope to stay awake. I need to pick up my mom, but now I’m going to jail because there is a pipe under the seat. Slam! Jingle! All of a sudden, I’m sitting at the hospital for me. Little did I know that 2 months later I’d be serving 6 months at the Idaho women’s prison for drugs at the age of 18. Though it was hard and I was ridden with guilt, I managed to swallow my pride and get right with God. I repented and confessed my sins. I asked for forgiveness and deliverance. I was baptized on August 6, 2001. I was released from prison that October.
Between work and college, I attended 12-step meetings and church with my new friend, Stephen, a lifelong faithful Christian. I was a faithful child of God and open vessel for 1 1/2 years before I felt myself slipping. I never did anything about it and 6 months later, in April 2003, I gave God the boot. I got into drugs worse than ever, and proceeded to lose my job, education, car, house, and sanity. All for the approval of my abusive boyfriend and drugs.
I racked up ten charges in 3 months. I was a dead woman, walking. I was skin and bones, and I knew I was doing wrong; but I didn’t stop. I was too ashamed to ask for help. Well, God wasn’t finished with me. Just as He intervened when I was pulled over in 2001, I was sentenced to 5 years after my arrest on July 14, 2003. This is not punishment, because if not for the grace of God, I’d be dead by now.
Those few months were my final run with the devil. I have since surrendered, fully, to the will of God and committed my life to Him. I am humbled daily and when I begin to stray, He brings me back to Him. I live a life of prayer, meditation, and believe it or not, God Keeps His Promises. Obedience is difficult, but worth it. I continue to grow in my faith everyday.
No one said life was easy…it sure wasn’t for Jesus. I’ve been delivered from abuse, addiction, mental disorders, homosexuality, and all of the other lies of the enemy that I fell for. If I am faithful to the Lord, He will bless me and bring me peace in the midst of trouble. He has chipped the stone away from my heart, and filled it with love. In the name of Jesus, I was healed and delivered from my past sins. I praise the Lord today and everyday for His unending love and faithfulness. The Lord is Good; and His Love Endures Forever!
Can your past change your present and future? It sure can, if you allow yourself to realize how bad it was and let that be a definite influence on what you can be! Don’t just say, “I’d like to change.” Change!
I passed through the first twenty years of my life knowing of Jesus Christ, but not being with Him. I walked the ways of the world. I became military property at the time of the Viet Nam war. I married just prior to that and continued to be just a mere church goer, from time to time. I don’t even remember the names or titles of churches I did attend.
In the late 70’s I was fatally injured while serving active in the U.S.A.F. Fatally injured? Yes! I lost my life! During that time-span the Lord spoke to me as I was at His side, seeing the Kingdom of Heaven. He said, “Yes, you have a place here, but I want you to do something first. I want you to bring more people to Me.” God then gave me another life, a new one. He put me on the turn-table, the potter’s wheel. He began to mold me, train me, and refine me. At that time, my foundation was the only thing that was strong and permanent. The Holy Spirit began molding and forming the rest of me into what He wanted me to be and do. This process wasn’t done over night.
My ‘trek’ began as did the Apostle Paul’s. It relates to something Paul may have said, “I’ve been beaten, tortured, whipped, stoned, and put in prison, but I didn’t notice. I’ve been serving.”
I received the Baptism of The Holy Spirit in Dallas, TX. During that time, Jesus, as my potter, was molding me further into what He wanted me to be. Is the rest history? No! This ‘molding’ process continues for me. God continues to ‘detail’ His calling for me to serve Him and share the Gospel with all others.
I, now a pastor, continue to evangelize and be more active and involved. Prison ministry? Yes, for over thirty years! Youth ministry? Yes! Veteran ministry? Yes! Ministry to the disabled (differentually able)? Yes! Church ministry? Yes! God knows I desire to plant and/or minister within a church that has been planted to continue preaching and teaching His Word. There are those in need that can’t be forgotten, ignored, or overlooked. He never forgot, ignored, or overlooked me!
“Lord, I came before Your Throne, humbly, on my knees.
I give my life to You right now, to do with as You please.
Give me any job to do and I will do my best.
Send me any place on earth to put me to the test.
I’ll gladly travel many miles to be where I should be.
There are many other lands and anywhere will do.
I’ll journey all around the world if You want me to.”
Dear Starfish Prison Ministries,
I received your letter in the mail some time ago; but am writing now. I am in a secure medical facility. I came here from prison because I tried to hang myself 6 times. I ve been down 5 years and it is just about time to be released to the open world. I had a hard time reading and writing, and then I met someone here who has helped me. He was my tutor. We became friends and he helped & showed me how to do my work better in school here. He s got life. He s 22 now and been down since he was 14 years old. I say prayers for him each night. He went back to prison this past August and it s been very hard for me because he s not here with me except in spirit. So my reading started to get good for me and I went and took a tutor class myself. Today I m a tutor myself and proud of it, like my true friend is. Now I can help others here. But I m leaving soon; Jesus has helped me with my deep depression by taking Satan out of my life. I ve made a lot of Christian friends in this 5 years, but you know what? My tutor friend tops them all; because when I was younger I was in Special Education. I never had anyone really show me how to read. When I was in prison I had some teachers help me; but not like my friend did. He s been a big blessing from Jesus. I tell him always, maybe God sent you down to help me and you earned your wings today.
I still write to him. I send him birthday and Christmas cards. He s doing bad cause they keep guys in cells 24/7 at his facility, it s a max and he can t find work. I would like to send him something, but I can t because I m in prison too. He tells me some day we will meet again. I know that will be when we are in God s hands in Heaven.
My life has been very hard. Both of my parents have cancer. His dad and step-mom live in Texas and his father also has cancer, no one up here to help him. I got a mother. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska. My dad lives in WI. I have to live on my own in a different county in northern WI. I hope my story will give encouragement to someone to know that even in prison, you can make a difference in someone s life. Thank you for your time.
On September 9, 2001, I had cause to reflect on my life because my Christianity had just been profoundly challenged. Previous attacks, during my 17 years in prison, had upset me but never rattled me like this one had.
I had always believed that my relationship with God was my business and it was personal. I didn t owe anyone any explanation and if they didn t like it that was too bad. I had experienced a lot in my life. I was baptized Catholic and raised Presbyterian. Then I was converted by Southern Baptists while I was serving in Germany as part of the U.S. Army in 1980. I believed that I was as much a Christian as anyone else who claimed to be one. Who were they to tell me any differently? Just self-righteous Bible-thumpers who were no better than me!
True Christians didn t bother me or attempt to shove Jesus down my throat, and the ones who did usually didn t like the way I responded in word or deed. I was not above using the threat of violence to solve a problem.
I had a reputation, in prison, because of my appearance (long hair and beard), my associates (bikers, hardcore convicts, gang members, etc.), my past (a member of an outlaw motorcycle club), and my crime (1st degree murder). Through it all I believed that I was a Christian and going to Heaven if I died.
However, on September 9, 2001 I began to have doubts. I was at the chapel service, which I had been attending regularly for a year, when one of the Bible-thumpers gave a devotional. I felt it was directed at me. He said that if someone claims to be a Christian and does not follow God s commandments that he is a liar. I believed that he looked right at me when he said that and I was irate! I stewed for the entire service, just staring at the back of his head waiting for the service to end so I could confront him. When the service concluded I stormed up to him and refused to shake his hand when he offered it. Instead I told him how wrong he was to say those things about me in public. I also challenged him to talk that way to me in some private section of the prison. He truly looked dismayed, so I reminded him of his words. He regained his composure and assured me those words came straight out of the Bible. I was stunned. To save face I told him they had better be and then asked for the verso so I could check. I then hurried back to my housing unit to find a Bible; I hadn t owned one in years.
I walked up to one of the Bible-thumpers, in my unit, and told him I needed a Bible. He gave me one and I went to my cell and locked myself in. I was nervous to open it to the verse I had been given, but I did it anyways. This is what I John 2:4 says, He that saith I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, the Truth is not in him’.
I had a lot of thinking to do. I don t like liars! I certainly couldn t be one. I have to remember that the Bible can be taken out of context to get people to believe anything. I just needed to calm down and keep my perspective. I m not a bad person. True, I committed murder a long time ago but I m not that same person. Since coming to prison at the age of 24 in August of 1984, I earned an Associates Degree in Arts & Science. Made the Dean s List 4 times, earned an Electronic Servicing Diploma and became a LVA (Literary Volunteers of America) certified tutor. I also enrolled in most of the prison programs offered to improve oneself like anger management, Life Skills, C.G.I.P. (Cognitive Group Intervention Program), Self-Help, and others.
Had I been lying to myself? What if I had been? What does it all mean? That was too scary to contemplate, so I occupied my mind with other things and let the matter go.
However, two days later I was out in the dayroom, early in the morning, when one of the guys shouted out to turn on the news. We did just as the second plane hit the Twin Towers. Wow! I immediately went to my cell and turned on my personal T.V. I was off from work that day so I watched the news all day long. My mind was racing! What did it all mean? Was it going to get any worse? Were more attacks imminent? Was my son safe?
I went to bed that night troubled. As I started to doze I heard a question, Do you know where you ll go if you die tonight? So I asked my cellie what he said. He told me to keep quiet because he was sleeping and I woke him up talking to him. I rolled over and before long I heard the same question. Now I was frightened! Could that really be God talking to me? I was wide-awake and really scared! More scared than I can ever remember being, and I had lived a very dangerous lifestyle.
I wondered if I was losing my mind or if the events of the last few days had just been too much for me to handle. I needed to get a grip. So I put in a Sammy Hager cassette and put on my headphones, and went to sleep. However, that wasn t the end of it. I didn t sleep soundly and I was still out of sorts . Something had to give! My cellie was also wondering what was wrong with me. I couldn t talk about it because I thought I d sound like a whacko if I did. So when he went to work I closed our cell door and started yelling at God. I thought it was time to clear the air . I went through my entire life, telling Him about all the times He had abandoned me or let me down . I didn t hold anything back. I talked for over 3 hours in ranges from whispering to yelling. At the end I was in tears, wondering how my life had gotten so messed up.
Strangely I sensed that peace was at my fingertips, but just out of reach. I really believed I was already saved so I didn t see the need to do the acceptance prayer that I had heard about in chapel services so many times. But I agreed with Jesus to do it if He would show me in some way that He was in fact the God the Bible describes Him to be. How great it would be if the Bible were, in fact, accurate and truthful! I kneeled down and gave my life to Christ.
The inner turmoil was gone. Nothing else had changed, but I did feel calm. I now knew that I was truly a Christian. I immediately went to the 2 other Christians on the unit and shared the news. They both prayed with me and one of them gave me my very own Bible.
A lot has happened since then, but my belief in God has remained firm. Within days of being born-again, I was already apologizing to God for questioning Him. He truly is the God of the Bible and deserving of our praise!
(This testimony contains the author s own words. There is no way that we could share the true heart of this man, without his own words. The sincerity of this young man sharing his testimony in English, brings to light his desire to reach out to others. His heart speaks to all of us in the universal language of compassion and truth. No disrespect meant to him by our using his own words and spellings; but rather a sincere effort to share with our readers the heartfelt message he has sent to us all. )
At the age of 15 years old I was thuggin, hangin, and bangin in the streets of Miami. Me bein part of the most notorious organization know as Latin Kings . On that day I was just a little ignorant livin bad boy. I was blind livin on disobedience, no obeyin God s statutes and Commandments, I talking about. Doing drive by s every day to a rival gang, finally got to a point that I see about 7 or 10 times the juvenile detention centers. My parents can t control me, all they do is pray for me every day thing, but I was on the streets hangin out with the Kings. When I was on the street if you look at me twice, you gotta problem. I was under the devil command. That was kraysies day. I thought I was untouchable, I was wrong; because somebody touch me real good.
When I was thuggin on the street I find my girlfriend and she give me two beautiful kids; but that don t change my lifestyle. I was kraysie, real kraysie. On day I was hangin out with my fellows on the beach with some girls from same organization known as Queens, I got in a fight with another guy. I got stab a few times, going to the hospital I call my daddy. He got mad at me because he told me that day that he was feeling something that gonna happen to me and came true. I got out from the hospital, and I went back to my old ways.
One day I was drinking a beer when I saw this old lady with some bags full of grocery. She told me, son can you help me with this stuff please. I say sure, she say to me, how old are you son. I say 16, you know that God love you, and you need Jesus in your live. I say, ma am, I understand that God love me, but I still young I gotta live my life. Christianity is for old people. Nah son, God say in the Bible you gotta be birth like a kid, so you can have access to enter in His kingdom. We finally got to her house I hear bullets flying on my block, I ran down there my best homie got shot twice and stay 27 days in a coma. I see that day that life is kraysie, I say to God. God you know Shorty is my homie, please save his life so we can hangin out again. God grant my wish, but I didn t know this. After I find out by myself in a kraysie place that you can t image.
In 1998 I break the law big time and find myself in the back seat of a police car, gone to county jail. A year later, after I got arrested, I was sentence to 11 years in prison. Nobody was with me on the sentence day, only the Almighty God; but I didn t know this till after I found out in the kraysie place. Thirty days after I got sentence I receive a letter from my girlfriend telling me that she gonna leave me, and that I was a coward for not staying on the street taking care of her and my two beautiful kids. I have love for both of them, but back then I didn t have no understanding. I was in prison, lonely, no letter, no money, no visits, nothing just fighting for my respect every day.
Four years after I got sentenced, I was fighting with this dude. The guard sees us and takes us to confinement. I was in my cold and lonely cell; because I didn t have no roommate that day that I was put in that cell I fall asleep. The next day I was reading the graffiti that was on the wall from everybody that was in that cell before, then I read something that read like this, God bless you brother . When I finish reading that I got a flashback from the old lady that very day. That she tells me, God bless you son . My property arrives to my cell, I have a toothbrush, some personal cosmetics, a Bible that I got from the institution chapel that never been read before. I put it on my locker, something was telling me to start reading the Bible, but I refuse. I start to clean my cell and I found a Christian newspaper, and I start to read. Then I found an address from Christian pen pal and I write to that address. I got tired of reading the newspaper, and I fall asleep. I woke up for lunch, eat, and after that I start thinking about my future, the path, the things that I did wrong on my life. My mom, my love ones, and specially the conversation that I have with the old lady. The day I help her with her grocery. When she told me that I need Jesus in my life. When I hear them words again, the words went to my ears, the ears send the message to my mind. The mind contact my heart, my heart got the message from the old lady that God told her to tell me that, all this happen in seconds. My heart start breaking down. The pain was strong that I start crying, but I was crying because I was guilty of something that need it be pardon by Almighty God. I was crying, and I was thinking about my homie, the one got shot on the block of my hood, and the day I was sentence. I finally understood that God never left me alone, because He loved me and that day in the cell, the kraysie place, I give my life to God.
God change me a lot. After I finish praying I open the Bible, the one never been reading before, opening in my eye went straight to Proverbs 16:3. That verse show that God loves me, and Proverbs was the first book that I read. After I get out from confinement I start going to the Christian services that the prisoner brothers make in the compound.
Six months after I give my life to God I got a letter and pictures from my kids that I haven t heard from for four years. After that I got a letter from the pan-pal that I wrote and this sister I call my mom. She has been there for me and supported me mentally. I got visits my sister came to this country to visit me.
I m gonna tell some brother and sister if you a gang member you need to check yourself with God. He change me He can do the same for you. He looking for bad girls and bad boys, so tell God to put you name in His Book of Life, God never leave His sons and daughters alone. Hope my testimony make a difference in your life.
(There is no need to change names or places. I am who I am out of the Grace of God.)
It pleases me that the Lord has allowed me to share my testimony, as well as what the Lord has done in me since receiving Him into my heart and life.
I was one of a family of fourteen who grew up in the streets and slums of Milwaukee. Stealing and hurting people was my way of life. Fighting was second nature to me; as the many scars on my body show that to be. I was a man of evil and wicked character, full of hate and bitterness. I hated people, I hated the world and what it stood for, and hated myself. It had gotten to the point in my life where I enjoyed hurting others and seeing them suffer. I knew of no love. To me, love was what a woman could give me physically.
I began stealing at the age of five. By the age of nine I had made the front page of the National Inquirer as well as the Milwaukee Sentinel along with my brother and father. The caption read, Father Forces Sons to go out and Steal . The real truth was by then, stealing was a way of life and I enjoyed it. At the age of 13 I had received my first sentence of incarceration to the reform school. By the age of 16, I was sentenced to an adult prison because I could not be controlled in the reform schools. At the age of 33, I had committed more crime in and outside of prison than I care to remember.
It has been about two years since my release from prison. I did 18 years after receiving two 30-year sentences for masked armed robbery and masked burglary. I have done a total of 33 years in the WI prison system. During this last sentence I had reached the point in my life where I was thinking insanely. I was planning to start taking the lives of others in my place of incarceration. It was then that something began to happen within me. What it was I didn t know at the time. Today, I know it was the Lord bringing conviction upon my heart; something I didn t understand. Imagine, the Lord wanting me, a cold hateful, useless piece of trash, as one of His children. To this day it still blows my mind. I came to confess, believe, and receive Jesus Christ into my heart as Lord and Savior back in February 1988 at the first PFM seminar held at Columbia Correction; the same prison where the notorious Jeffery Dahmer was murdered. I was told of the upcoming seminar by a fellow convict, whom I had gone off on verbally for coming to me with something religious like that seminar. The following day or two, a couple more men had brought news to me concerning this seminar. Again, I went off verbally and once to the point that I ended up threatening one of the men with physical harm. The reason I became upset with these men in the first place was because I had no interest in this so called Christian stuff. To me, it was nothing but garbage, and was for weak people and a cop out if anything. I did not appreciate them bringing such things to me, especially when they were buying and doing every illegal drug and activity under the sun that I was. They definitely were not practicing what they were preaching.
For days my feelings remained the same as previously. I understand today that it was the Lord who was calling me, and who eventually brought me to that seminar. I recall on the night of day two of the seminar, I had asked to speak to the instructor, I wanted to express and share that I as well could relate to what he was saying about his upbringing and feelings of prejudice. I had no intentions of accepting the Lord at that time, but God had other plans; which I am so thankful for today. I remember Ron asking me if I was willing to receive the Lord. I had told him that I wasn t to sure about that. I remember being very hesitant at first. It was about then that Ron began to pray and before I knew it, we were both on our knees praying. Ron had asked the Lord to open my heart to His love and peace or something to that extent. It was then I began to pray along with Ron; asking the Lord Jesus to come into my heart and life as my Lord and Savior, to forgive me for all the wrongs I had done in my life. I immediately began to experience a feeling of cleansing going on within my whole being. It was an experience of renewing that I had never known before. As tears flowed freely from my eyes, a sweet kind of peace came over me. I knew without doubt that I was finally free at last.
It s been close to 18 years since I have received and accepted the Lord Jesus into my heart and life as my Lord and Savior. There have been many struggles and trials I ve had to face since then. My mother s death two weeks after my conversion, the death of two of my brothers, being forsaken by my children, as well as most of my family and former friends. Most people who do not have the Lord treat me as a fanatic or as if I have some form of contagious disease. They have concluded that I have lost my mind or flipped out. But that s okay; for I know this life change is real. I know who my Lord and Savior is, and I know that this is what is important in this life and the life to come. Without a doubt, it takes a real man to love Jesus to set himself apart from the majority and the ungodly ways of this world. Because of my last incarceration, I faced the reality that I could have and should have died in prison. But out of the love and grace of God I was spared of such. What I have learned over the years is by submitting and obeying the Lord s will daily, by reading His Word, praying, and fellowshipping daily with other believers, as well as confessing my sin or sins, whether in thought or physically doing them I can honestly say that I had more freedom in prison than most people out in society. For this, I will continue to thank and praise God for all that He has done and continues to do in my life. I know that the Lord is in control of all things. Amen!
I believe we are new creations when we come to Christ, as the Bible clearly tells us. I also believe that we bring luggage with us. I know this to be true, because I brought a U-Haul along. But praise God; we can and should deal with one piece of the luggage at a time. Just between us and the Lord, to overcome, as examples to follow will show. To date, the Lord has taken the hate and bitterness from my heart and replaced it with real love, joy, and peace. The Lord has shown me how to love people and to love them from the heart. The Lord has blessed me with a bigger and more loving family; I am referring to the brothers and sisters who share in the same faith and Lord Jesus I do. The Lord has taught me to achieve more in these past 18 years than I had in 34 years prior, when I did things my way. The Lord has blessed me with 177 certificates, 5 diplomas, an associate bachelor s and master s degree in Biblical studies, as well as an associate and master s degree in Christian counseling.
In 1995 I was blessed beyond all blessings when the Lord gave me Heidi; a very beautiful, Heaven sent and godly woman, whose heart is after God s heart. Today, I can proudly say that she is my precious, wonderful wife in God s marriage covenant. We ve been married now for seven years, and still I see her as my youthful bride. Thank you Lord for a taste of Heaven. We believe it s God s will that we continue studying and growing in His Word as husband and wife and as Christians according to II Timothy 2:15; and that we should do our best to present ourselves to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the Word of Truth. This is something we deeply and truly believe the Lord wants of all His children.
Our heart s desire is to bring praise, honor, and glory onto our Almighty, Wonderful, Loving God; in our lives as well as by helping others who are sincere about growing in the knowledge of God s wisdom and living for the Lord in obedience to His Word.
Together we have been blessed with Heaven s Way Christian Gift and Book Store we began shortly after we men. The blessed part of it is that it s not just another business, but a beautiful ministry for brothers and sisters as well as to lost ones in our community.
It s been two years since my release after 18 years of incarceration. Due to God s love and grace and the love of my wife, I am adapting and continue to grow in the ways of the Lord. I ve been blessed with the opportunity to be involved with PFM relating to the aftercare aspect of it. In the meantime I m waiting for the Lord s direction as to where He wants me in other aspects of this ministry.
I now live to testify that the Lord is very real. He is a loving and merciful God. I believe He can and will change lives if one chooses and allows Him to do so in their lives. The Lord will help one through all struggles and sufferings if you allow Him to have complete control of your life.
There are three things one should learn to do each and every day, if they desire to grow in the love and image of our Lord Jesus. One should begin to read God s Word and ask Him to help you apply and put it into practice within your own heart, mind, and life. Secondly, begin to seek the Lord daily in prayer. Last of all; confess your sins from a sincere heart. Know that God s love for you is true and pure; that He will never leave you nor forsake you. If anyone makes this utmost important decision in their life to believe and receive the Lord Jesus into their heart and life, whether now or in the near future, I will be more than pleased to help them in their walk with the Lord.
Before closing on this, I would like to leave you with these words form the Bible. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not onto your own understanding; acknowledge Him in all your ways, and He will direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil (sin). This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. (Proverbs 3:5-8)
God bless, In the Lord s Love Gordy
(If you are interested in contacting Gordy, send us a note and we will see that he receives it.)
The Tear Stained Bible (used with permission of the author)
I just stood there with my head bowed as the congregation continued to sing the invitation song. It was a large church and my wife & I had been invited to the revival meeting. The church was filled to capacity; the pews were so close together that my knees barely missed touching the one in front of me. For the past hour or so the preacher had expounded the Scriptures fervently convincing those in attendance that there was no middle ground: You were a Christian or you were not.
Being the son of a Baptist minister, and being raised in a Christian home, I had heard the Gospel many times but never really coming to the point of knowing that I was saved. During the second stanza of the invitation hymn, a plain looking, middle aged lady who was standing in front of me, turned around and asked the simple question; Are you a Christian?
I had never been put on the spot exactly like that before. Searching my heart and seeing the truth for the first time, I bowed my head and humbly replied, No Ma am.
She didn t pursue any further; she just turned back around and joined in with the rest of the congregation. It seemed that God had led her to bring me to the realization that I was lost.
The following year would prove to be the darkest days of my life. There was not joy, no happiness; just a totally empty feeling of gloom. I went about daily necessities of living; but I was just and empty shell of a man, the awareness of what it was like to be lost and without God.
We bought a little place in the country, and soon were invited to a small church nearby. After a few weeks the church held a revival and we attended each night. On Friday night, during the invitation, I realized I needed to make a move; but I didn t. I just held onto the back of the seat in front of me. As we got into the car to go home, I knew that I had passed up a time that God was calling me. Silently, from my heart, I prayed to God and promised that if He would give me another opportunity that I would go to the altar. If I ever in my life made a vow this was it. I was sincere. I meant to keep my promise, regardless of my backwardness. The next night came, Saturday night. The special singers were singing and I knew in my heart that when the opportunity came, as I had vowed, I would respond.
Before the preacher got up to preach, the singers decided to sing and invitation song. God was giving me another chance. I got up and went to the altar. Kneeling, I didn t know how to be saved or how to pray. Through tears, I told God that I wanted to be saved; but didn t know how. As the singers continued to sing and many people were at the altar praying for me, I still didn t know how to be saved.
After a while, I saw someone reach a Bible under the altar, I heard someone say, Read verses 9 & 10. I read them. It was what I learned later, the passage in Scriptures commonly referred to as The Roman Road Map , Romans 10:9-10. I had believed in God all of my life; but I had never trusted in Christ s blood. In the next moment, I understood and placed my confidence in Jesus blood to cover my sins. I felt peace that I had never felt before.
As I had read the verses in the Bible that the pastor had handed to me from under the altar, my tears had fallen on the pages. I remember thinking that this might ruin the Bible. I feel sure now, that he didn t mind.
To this day, I still claim Jesus as my Savior and thank God for His Grace and Mercy; and I always will. This was June of 1967. I was 29 years old. I hope that this story will, perhaps, help someone to find Christ.
I have been blessed to work with and write to many men and women who are or have been incarcerated. I would like to share how God, through a hard-core fellow, touched not only my heart; but the hearts of all who have heard his story. Thank you for the opportunity to share his story with many, many more.
When I received the letter that contained a beautifully hand-drawn card I was stunned, I read the words Thank you for your friendship, Mary. God bless you forever! It was followed by a verse, I John 4:16 and signed Your friend eternally, Chris , tears welled up in my eyes. This was a young man who was in a hard-core gang and said he would rather not talk about God. He didn t mind writing, but not just about that God stuff. Now he was sending blessings and quoting Scripture. I had to read the letter that came along with the beautiful card. As I read I cried.
He chatted on about the last letter he had written and how a lot had been going on there. Then the next few lines really struck home. I know you ll be happy to hear that God s got a real hold on me right now, how can I (anyone) explain how it all came about?! God can do anything & He s done it with me. I severely persecuted Christians, Christianity, & had sooooo many doubts & questions. I felt I would have to have answers to. Now it seems like, I feel like it doesn t matter to have any questions answered, as I read my study Bible, and other Christian literature any/all questions that need to be answered or revealed to me of importance are being answered by the Word of God. I was a complete fool for 32 years, Mary!!! I d love for you to send me the Bible study. I m doing one now with a church here in TX, put in for another the other day with another place. I ve got so much time on my hands, I m at the point right now the only lit I read, or even want to read is Christian lit : ) .
Chris went on to talk about another pen pal who had sent him a study Bible and the Purpose Driven Life. He speaks of being convicted by the Holy Spirit in all of his thoughts, deeds, and actions. He speaks of wanting to better educate himself in all areas so that he can be a better person all-around. Throughout the whole letter, two pages of long legal-both sides, he finds Scripture to explain God s love, faith, friendship, love, and more. It just goes on and on. He said, I never could understand why Christians would want to reach out to people who are in prison, but now as a Christian I completely understand. My life is taking a 180* turn Mary, my thought process, everything. Don t get me wrong; I m fully aware that I have a long ways to go, but the point is I m on my journey now, I believe that if no one in the whole world existed but just me—Chris Douglas Christian; God still would have sent Jesus to die on the cross so my sins could be forgiven, I wouldn t be lost to the world, Satan, Hell. You better believe Satan s now wanting to give up on me either, he s had me, control over my life for 32 years, I shined for him, NOW I m going to shine for the one who really loves me, GOD! I m one of those all or nothing type of persons, so there is no telling how far I ll go, hopefully real far.
Now the gang that Chris was/is in doesn t let you out easily. You don t just quit. He has genuine concerns for his family and his own life. It is a blood-in and blood-out group. So as he struggles with these things, please hold him and his family in prayer. In letters following, he requests prayer for trials he is facing; but continues to work diligently on his Bible study that I send him. He continues to share verses he has found and tell what he especially likes about them, always asking questions and for prayer. It is interesting how he closed one letter and always follows with Your friend Eternally in the following. He said that we may never meet in this lifetime, but he is now confident we will see each other in the hereafter, because we will be there for Eternity.
Chris is the product of many prayers on the behalf of many people. The seeds were planted by many Christians who knew he was worth their time despite his crimes against humanity, but it is God who did/does the watering and harvesting. The angels rejoiced as this starfish took his place in the Book of Life, and many on earth gave all the honor and glory to God for this precious soul.
Please don t give up on these Starfish, even the most hopeless ones are not to hopeless for God. Thank you for the opportunity to allow me to share Chris story.
Exerts are taken from Saved by the Cell , the chapter entitled The Gentle Man , with written permission from the author. Names and locations have been changed to protect the identity of those involved. (This is a long submission. We chose to print all of it, as it is important to show the power of true compassion and the awesome change that took place in this man s life.)
December 13, 1986 I sat in the small cold cell at this WI prison, feeling completely hopeless and isolated from everything and everyone. I just couldn t quite understand how my life had come to this point of being at the very bottom. I was sitting in prison at the age of 17, serving a LIFE sentence for a crime that I did not commit. Thoughts began to flood my mind about how to bring an end to this horrible nightmare that I was forced to live; but then again I was afraid to carry out the mission of relieving myself of the heart wrenching reality of possibly spending the rest of my life behind the rest of my life behind the prison walls for a murder that I did not partake in.
I continued to stare distantly into the land of nowhere, in hopes of escaping what I truly felt. However, I knew that I couldn t express any type of fear or insecurities about myself in that place known as the gladiator school. I later would soon find out why this facility was given that label.
I saw myself as a complete failure and my being in prison only confirmed that more for me. But there was one thing that I could cling to HATRED . Even though fear of the unknown overwhelmed my thoughts, I was totally consumed by hate. I vowed to hate all black people because they had turned their backs on my family and me when we really needed their support. So I concluded that anger would always be my source of strength and refuge. I was prepared to impose my hatred upon everyone who came across my path.
The longer I sat there in the cell, stewing over the injustice that separated me from freedom and family I began to contemplate destructive things in my head. I was prepared to impart upon others all my disappointments, frustrations, and bitterness. I would become that MURDERER that the court said I was. I would hate until I could no longer hate.
I began to frequent solitary confinement for things ranging from gang activity to assaulting other convicts and staff with weapons . Down in the dungeon (as the hole was referred to) the cell doors were much heavier than what I had seen before. In fact, I was placed behind two heavy steel cell doors. Inside of the small cramped cell there were no windows to look outside. This made it virtually impossible to know what time of the day it was. Situated in the center of the cell was a cold concrete bed that was built low to the floor. I was given one thin sheet and no pillow. The toilet was also built low to the floor, which made it appear that you were in a squatting position whenever the time came to use it. Then there was the sink, which only ran cold water; so washing up was something to be dreaded; but absolutely necessary.
In the hole the cell was painfully quiet. There was no other person there who I could converse with. In fact, I really didn t have the desire to speak with anyone. So in essence, being in the dungeon wasn t such a bad thing after all. I needed to be alone to stew in my self-hatred . I wanted to feed off of the negative energy that hate gave me because it safeguarded me from my true feelings. My inadequacies began to birth in me deeper thoughts that I had in the past. I began to look around the small cell trying to find any possible way to end the growing pain I felt; but I didn t want to suffer a painful death I just wanted this nightmare to END! Above the cell door was a ventilation system that had small holes in it. I didn t know how I could make my suicide mission easier, but I knew that I had to do something to make this nightmare go away. Afterwards, I began to look around the cell trying to find something strong enough to hold the weight of my 160# frame. My eyes fell on my tennis shoes , which still had the laces in them. I nervously removed the laces, while trying to wipe the tears from my eyes. As I tied the laces into a knot, my thoughts were no longer mine. Something profound and unfamiliar within me was literally encouraging me to go forward with killing myself. I gave in to those thoughts of inadequacy by believing that my life was nothing. So I felt no one would miss me anyway. I slowly began to tie the shoestring through the small holes in the vent. Once I completed that I put my weight down on the string making sure it was strong enough to hold me. Satisfied and painfully frightened at the same time, I began to tie the string around my neck. Once again I pulled down on the string to make sure it would hold me. I pulled myself up to the vent so that my feet wouldn t touch the floor. I released my hand from the vent that held my weight up then my feet suddenly fell from the door and the shoestring around my neck tightened to the point of cutting off my oxygen supply. I began to panic reaching to my neck, but I couldn t loosen the string. I gasped for air; but none would come through.
Flashes of my mother s face came to mind. She was screaming at the top of her voice, as she viewed my body in the open coffin. Why did you people kill my boy? He did not kill that man! Why God? Why God? She wouldn t be satisfied or comforted by anyone. Then there were those who didn t believe in my innocence. I saw the D.A., the judge, and that detective standing next to my body saying, If he didn t kill anybody, why did the coward take his own life? The last thing I saw was a comforting hand reaching out to me as I was slowly being lowered into the ground; but I couldn t move to reach up to that hand! I tried crying out, but nothing would come out of my mouth!! All of a sudden the string that was tied around my neck snapped! I fell to the floor. The impact of the fall was very painful as I was unable to brace myself. I sat there on the cold concrete floor feeling completely shocked about what had just happened. I was in total disbelief that I had gone so far as trying to take my own life because of my cowardliness to fight back.
As I look back on that incident in my life, I can see the Divine Hand of God in my life. Even when I didn t want it! The HAND that had reached out to me was the hand of HOPE . Although I was blinded by self-hatred and self-pity I completely overlooked the merciful and compassionate hand of GOD, which had lovingly stretched out to prevent me from taking my own life. At that moment I cried out to God to please comfort me in my times of trouble and dismay. I was tired of being frustrated and confused about myself. I sat there on the cold floor, feeling completely drained emotionally as I continued to pour out my heart to God.
The prison chaplain, Rev. Jones, was known throughout the prison as being a man of God who truly had a genuine concern about the prisoners. He would often make his weekly rounds, in solitary confinement, asking men if they have any prayer requests or if they just want to talk. One day, after I had attempted to commit suicide, Rev. Jones was doing one of his weekly rounds to the convict s cells. I heard him walking closer to where my cell was. He had stopped next door to me talking to him about receiving salvation. Even though I wanted what he was saying to that convict about God being bigger than any problem that we may have in our lives to be true, I just couldn t bring myself to accept it. I could not accept what the chaplain was saying about God s plan being good and perfect for out lives. I thought about the pain I had experienced in my life the disappointments, the hurt, the hatred, and the fact that I was given a LIFE sentence for a crime that I had no knowledge about. At that moment I was consumed by hatred towards God for causing these horrible things to happen to me. I decided at that time that I did not want to hear anything about God whom I attributed all of my pain to. I walked back to the toilet and began to urinate into an empty cup with the intention of tossing it into the chaplain s face when he came near my cell to talk about God.
As the chaplain approached my cell I was prepared to give him a piece of my mind . Then I would throw the urine in his face. That would teach him about stopping in front of my cell with that cr**. Chaplain came in front of the cell door and cheerfully said, Hi Brother, can I pray for you? Before he had the chance to finish his question I tossed the contents of the cup and began to call him names that I am ashamed to mention. Then the unthinkable happened. Chaplain gave me a look that completely floored me in response to my action of disrespect. Surprisingly my actions didn t really faze him. He continued to stand in front of my cell as though nothing had happened. Then eventually he responded by saying, GOD LOVES YOU AND SO DO I!! I couldn t believe what this man was saying. I began to hate him even more; because he did not respond according to the way I thought he should. In fact, his response had completely disarmed me. I didn t know how to respond to his kindness so I just walked away from the bars and buried my head under the sheet on the bed.
For the entire six years that I spent, Chaplain never missed a week of coming down to talk to me. I continued to respond in the same disrespectful way; he would eventually carry a towel along. Over a period of time, Chaplain began to LOVE the HATE away from me. His kindness was too much for me to fight against. Because of the chaplain and his dedicated burden for the lost, God was able to use him to show me that I am loved and that I am special in God s eyes. Rev. Jones is a very unique man of God. He is my hero and my mentor. I have the utmost love and respect for him. He gave me hope when I felt hopeless. He offered me his hand in friendship when I had no one to lean on. Today my life is full and meaningful because of this Gentle Man . Even though I am still in the process of getting my case overturned in the courts, I believe God used this chaplain to bring me out of the darkness, into the LIGHT!
The person, who totally deserves the credit for all the change that has taken place in my life, and giving me a second chance, is God in the person of Jesus Christ. He has blessed me by bringing two special couples into my life. They are willing to share their lives and their time, bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ. They show that in spite of the crimes we have committed we are still human beings and we matter to others. They came and they shared the love that God showed and gave them, with us.
It was at a PFM seminar in May that I really experience that love and forgiveness from Jesus Christ, first hand for myself. I will NEVER forget that day.
Both couples continue coming, week in and week out. The weather never stops them. There was a time that one of the couples made many miles between visiting a family member in another county, then coming to our facility to give us hope and let us know that others really care. Because of these people and others like them, my relationship with Jesus Christ has grown tremendously and been strengthened by the grace of God.
Having the opportunity to attend one of the many Self-Help groups in Wisconsin also helped me. These prompted me to start looking at solutions in myself while still having my faith in Jesus Christ. After only two sessions I was transferred to another facility. In these two sessions I was able to learn two important lessons. The first was that I am entitled to my opinion . When there is something I feel needs to be said I simply start with, This is my opinion this really leaves no room for argument. Most times I am heard and so are others. The second lesson is that we need to agree that we can disagree . If we do then we can get some serious debates and discussions, without needing to become physical.
A special friend also blessed me at my last facility. He was sent to me from God after several nights of prayer, asking God for a strong Brother in Christ. One who would help me to continue in my walk with the Lord. This man is also the person who suggested I look into attending Self-Help. He helped me to grow in Christ and to know that it is okay to be who God made me to be. We were and are, very much alike. Both of us are boastful and blunt in expressing ourselves. I had thought and was often told I had a wrong way of approaching things and directing myself. Jack showed me how to still be me, but to direct myself appropriately. He also mentored me many hours and days in the study of God s Word. I remember when I first got locked-up, I never thought I would have anyone I could really call a friend. I guess God proved me wrong. Today Jack is someone I miss a lot and tears fill my eyes when I receive mail from him. We will be released close to the same time and it will be important to continue our fellowship, keeping in constant communication.
I guess to sum it all up I would say God has blessed me and allowed me to come to prison. A place where there is so much hatred towards God and man to learn how to love and forgive myself, as well as others, and to do it with the love God shared with us. So thank you Jesus, Martha, Roy, Edith, Carl, and Jack; along with all the other volunteers. May God continue to bless your lives abundantly and may your overflowing cup continue to touch lives of others as it has touched mine. I know we will all meet again, if not after my release from prison then at the dinner table with Jesus in Heaven.
Exerts are taken from ‘The Forgotten Prisoner’, with written permission of the author. The compassion shown by this starfish, for others, revealed an important fact that needed sharing.
“I often think of the song where they say, ‘hello is anybody out there…does anyone care?’ How I’ve wrestled with this dead end relationship issue over these past years. Only the Lord has given me the strength to deal with this heartache of being forgotten less of a sad ending in my heart.
The Spirit of God helps me widen the lenses of my vision and understanding. The Spirit brings to focus a much bigger picture to look at in society as a whole. A prison can exist in many forms. What about the elderly stuck in a nursing home? Don’t they feel trapped into a death sentence as time gathers in? The elderly wait patiently for a letter from a loved one, or a visit, to make all the months of waiting meaningful. Then there’s the child whose parents have separated or divorced, and for the child waiting for a visit from Mom or Dad it seems like eternity. What about the shut-in person, due to illness, their home becomes solitary confinement. The only phone call or visit is out of obligation from family or care providers, and love is a secondhand thought.
Are not prisons made in all different types of situations? As I think about this, the awareness of many prisoners of this society comes to focus. The sentence many serve wasn’t handed out by a judge or jury for wrongs committed, but simply because of circumstances of life. I deserved my sentence and prison time I serve as a consequence of wrongs committed. What about the many people, who in one way or another are forgotten prisoners. Are we too busy, proud, or hardened to make a difference? The most valuable thing we all have to give each other is ourself, love from the heart.
Society is modern in all phases of life except the most important. For us to reach out with compassion and empathy (this is Christ), and not technology; but a heart filled with God’s love (agape). Plastic will never restore the loneliness and abandonment that the forgotten human heart experiences. In an age of terror, there still can be security and comfort in the homeland of our heart in Christ. We can be ambassadors to others, in Christ, by remembering all the forgotten prisoners.
Let’s be as Matthew 25:35-36 encourages. All who have family and friends who are prisoners, some that are not behind iron bars, inside cells, or looking through razor wire each day. It is for the prisoners that serve time in a sentence of forgottenness, that I write as the Spirit leads. If we want the innocent to go free, then release their sentence by showing that you care. It is really about a letter, a card, or phone call of encouragement. The prisoner of circumstance needs the understanding you can offer.
Please release someone; mother, father, aunt, uncle, grandparents, son, daughter, grandchild, or friend. Am I a warden in someone’s life, carrying the keys to freedom in love? Loneliness for the forgotten is a terrible tragedy. Is there someone you’re thinking of right now? Give yourself the joy that costs only time used for watching TV or idle talk, and all this is Christ, ‘for I was hungry, and you gave me meat; I was thirsty, and you gave me drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me.’ Matthew 25:35-36.”
While most 15 year olds were worrying about homework, Junior prom, and the like; I on the other hand was sitting in the Juvenile Detention Center facing 20-60 years on 1st degree murder charges. I wasn’t the person that committed the crime, but under Illinois law; ‘If you are with someone and they commit a crime which you fail to report within a reasonable time frame … you can be held equally accountable with the person who actually committed the act(s).’ I was eventually convicted and sentenced to 30 years. When I arrived at the adult prison facility, my spirits were in the duldrums. I felt like my entire live was ruined; but with the strength and support of my family I was able to turn tragedy into triumph, so to speak. Instead of sitting around feeling sorry for myself, I became heavily engaged in studying material that would help me grow into a stronger individual. The led me to eventually attain my GED, and I am currently in the process of procuring my Associates of Arts degree, as well as my Culinary Arts and Business Management Certificates. Upon my release from correctional facilities I will be able to do something productive with my life.
From my experience I was able to deduce that as Iyanla Vanzant put it, ‘Most of what goes on in your life is not intrinsically bad; however the and taht we attach to our experiences make most experiences seem insurmountable”. So if you view life from a pessimistic standpoint, you are going to be easily discouraged; but by way of contrast if you view life with a positive attitude your are going to be able to muster up the fortitude to make it through anything. So, to anyone going through anything in life, just know that though it may not be readily perceivable…there is indeed light at the endt of the road.
Remember, ‘Giving up is EASY, fighting to overcome the odds is what defines a person’s true character’. I have been so blessed to have a supportive family, and thank them for all the encouragement they have shown me over the past 7 1/2 years.
I will begin when I was a teen of maybe 13-14 years. I can remember these times well…it seems as if this is when I noticed how other people in my life were treating me. They all would turn their backs on me. Not a one, my mother, aunts & uncles, and now even my sisters were beside be during any trial I had in my life. What was wrong with me? Was I crazy, maybe misunderstood? I look back and realize that this is when I began to drink alcohol.
What I want to look at is how I came to isolate myself … turn into stone … I still will not let anyone close enough to me … I don’t want to hurt … I don’t want them to leave me.
How does this stop? Will I eveer want a friend? Will they ever know that I’m not this rough, tough piece of steel?
I decided to try a pen-pal service…maybe I could open-up to a person that couldn’t get close to me. Someone I know I’ll never see … a person, I thought that couldn’t leave me!
Although the pen-pal left, she also left a positive impression on my life! She always gave me encouraging letters … she never judged me. She allowed me room to know her. I allowed her into my heart and that’s a place I thought was locked forever! For someone I’ll never meet, for the one who allowed me to be me! I thank you deeply!!
I have been a criminal since I was 9 years old and living in the fast lane. this is my fourth and final term in prison. Presently I am serving a 60 year sentence with 18 years to go before parole will even be considered.
In ’93 shortly after both my parents passed away, I just didn’t care anymore. I was with my ex-girlfriend and since she was wanted by the law, we ran. We carjacked a vehicle, almost taking the life of a man who had done nothing wrong, in the process. We were caught 9 days later and I was charged with aggravated robbery.
I was sitting in my cell at the Smith County Jail when a preacher walked up and just started talking about Jesus. After listening for a while I asked him to him to pray with me before my trial, and accepted Jesus as my Savior. Thanks to the compassion of this preacher, Jesus has delivered me from alcohol, stealing, and many other things.
After my sentencing I went back to my cell and started crying like a baby; thankfully I knew Jesus was there with me. Now I am in prison and have no family that will even write to me. I have hurt them so many times, in the past, when they tried to help me. I just wouldn’t listen.
I am so thankful to the preacher who took time for a sorry person like me. Because he cared I am never alone, Jesus is always at my side. I thank God for his gentle heart. Thank you for allowing me to share my story, may God bless each and every one of you.
I had a painful childhood, lots of anger, attitudes, and hate for many. Twenty-one years of drugs & alcohol, mental and physical abuse, never shown love or how to love. I have been in and out of jail since I was 11 years old, though this is my first time in prison. I was on my way to becoming a hard-core criminal.
As I sat in jail, looking at 280, feeling lost & alone, I fell to my knees and said, Lord, if you are who they say you are if you are real, please forgive me for my shameful life. Since then I ve never been the same because Jesus has had me by the hand and has never let me go. Yeah, I still went to prison for my crimes and so did Jesus. He has set me free of all my addictions, anger, hate, and attitudes. He made me whole, and gave me peace like I have never known.
Today I have been clean of drugs and alcohol for seven years. Jesus put me back in the ocean of life and He has also brought me godly friends, men and volunteers, who make sure I stay in the water. Those who give of their time and demonstrate how true love should be caring and given time for another, the true love of Jesus. I have not found a godly wife yet, but that is another story all its own.
Jesus loves you and me. He is just waiting for each of us to turn to Him. Yes, I was called a Bible thumper & made fun of, but who cares. You walk His walk wherever you are and Jesus is faithful to walk with you.
My story starts with a thought. When someone shows true compassion for a starfish, it blesses his or her whole family. That is what happened in mine. When I first had a problem, at age 5, my guardians sought professional help. God led us to Mary, she truly blessed our lives for almost 4 years. Then I broke the law at age 15, and again God laid Mary on my guardian s heart. They called for an appointment and spoke to her personally. They shared what I had done, and how God had brought her to mind in this time of need; she commented how touched she was and that she had goose bumps at the prospect of this calling.
Before my first appointment, my guardian took me to Human Services to report my offense. In order to work on healing, I first needed to be accountable. It was with the encouragement and support of my guardians that I was able to do this.
I met with Mary during the year of my court hearings; she is a beautiful person inside and out. Her heart overflows with true concern and compassion. Her caring has given our whole family a new lease on life, she started me on the path to healing; that I continue on to this day. She still takes time to check on my guardians and sends encouraging words to me. She has a real interest on how we are all doing and is a genuine person. We are so very blessed that God brought my guardians to her office almost 13 years ago; she took time to truly make a difference in our lives. Thank you Mary, your compassion is a true treasure.
08/25/05 WI (used with permission from PFM interview)
Listening to John I was reminded just how many people touched this young life through a ministry of love and time during his 3 year internment. He spoke of the faithful volunteers who ministered to him first in the youth facility, and later in the adult institution. In both youth and adult facilities he was able to attend PFM seminars and was also able to attend Bible studies once in the adult facility. He told of the deep impact these had on his life. He shared with me about how the night before his release his Christian brothers and the volunteers formed a circle around him, praying for his protection and successful re-entry. How he wept at the love and support he felt on his last night inside.
After his release, he shared how he was greeted by a member of an aftercare team, was immediately welcomed, and given prayerful support. He spoke about this man that he had never met before, how he took him to get his ID and to sign-up for school. He was taken down to obtain new clothing and a bus pass so he could get around for job interviews, all provided free by one of the aftercare support network members; all given freely in the name of Christ.
Then he spoke of his new PF trained mentor a mature pastor who has welcomed him into his spiritual family and has agreed to walk by his side as he starts this part of his personal journey in Christ.
Best of all he talked about HOPE, something that he knew little about before coming to prison. Of being reached out to by so many people (inside and out) each offering to care, to help, to share. He talked about how he couldn t wait to share this message of hope with other young men whom he knew where just as desperate to hear this story. The opportunity to show them there is HOPE!