I worked in prison ministry for over 25 years and was truly blessed. But,
the blessings I got were no accident! As I read the email tonight, it made me
think back to a time when I knew that GOD wanted me to do something and I
didn't know what.
During a revival at church, I asked for prayer about this......and less than
a week later, our women's group at church took items to a new half way house
for paroled inmates. I became interested and asked the Chaplin there if he could
give me some names of people who never got any mail. (I believe that everyone
needs to feel someone's love) A short time later, the Chaplin called me with a
name of a man who had been in prison for many years and got no mail at all. I
began to write him and after a few letters, he wrote to me and my husband that
no one cared and GOD didn't care either, to not bother to write back!
I took the time to pray about this (my ministry wasn't getting off to a good
start, at least that is what I thought!) After a lot of prayer that week, I
wrote yet another letter to John. In my letter, I told him it was ok, he didn't
have to write to me, but there would be letters delivered to him from us anyway,
he would know just by getting a letter even if he didn't open them. I also
told him that he didn't have to worry about answering them or reading them but
there was no way I was going to let him think someone didn't care. I told him
that it was up to him.
Shortly afterward, I received another letter from John and he told me the
chaplain had given him the advise to pray when he doubted, whether it was
doubts about the love of our LORD or doubts about how we really felt about
him. He had prayed with the chaplain and told GOD that if HE really loved
him, he needed proof. I know we aren't supposed to tempt, but, I also know
that many of us in a time of crisis or doubt ask that GOD give us a sign of
something to let us know that HE is still there.
In my letter, I found a note that brought tears to my eyes and still does
sometimes even in thought. John told GOD that if HE really loved him, he
would send someone to care.
That week is when my letter arrived.........I was the answer to a
prayer............just a little speck on this earth and doing nothing
grand........GOD HAD USED ME !! We began to write and I learned that John was
an orphan, and had no family to write to him. He had not gotten any mail to
speak of in the years he had been there. John was an emotional wreck, he was
on a ward for people who had mental problems too and he had no one who
cared......except me, my husband and GOD. Many years of letters passed, phone
calls were a treat once or twice a month, several visits passed as well. My
kids learned to love him on those visits and he was thrilled to have them
call him uncle. He was able to earn visits with meals brought in by us with
his behavior and we shared only a few.......but he knew he was loved. On a
cold February morning, I got a call from the chaplain and he told me that
John had had a heart attack and had passed on before the helicopter could
land to transport him to the hospital. I was devastated with the news, but
the biggest blessing I had was yet to come. After talking with the chaplain,
I told him I wanted to come to the funeral with my family as we were the only
family that he had. I was told the chapel was on the yard and we couldn't be
protected so we couldn't come. I called the warden and explained that I
didn't worry about the protection because GOD was protecting me and I wanted
to be there.
Against all odds, I was allowed to go onto the yard with my small children
and my husband. I felt absolutely no fear, I went into the chapel and sat in
the front row. It was a nice service and there were several of John's friends
attending. They all came up to shake our hands and tell us they were sorry for
our grief. Nothing out of the way........instead.............an honest gesture
of concern for us. When the funeral was over, I was asked what to do with
John's things. I told him that I wanted the personal things like the kids
pictures and letters and to give the rest of it to others who could use it.
I felt bad that John never left the prison while in this world, but I felt
good when I received his belongings. In the items were two things that made
it all worthwhile. First, I found a picture of my kids in a home made frame;
on the bottom of the picture was written MY REASON FOR LIVING...........GOD
had used our family to give hope and love to someone who so desperately needed
to feel loved in order to understand how GOD could love him. Second, I found
proof that John had turned his life over to the LORD!!!! I knew he was indeed
free from all of the prisons there were and that one day we would meet again.
In the 25 years of the ministry we had 3 of the inmates paroled to us, I wrote
to about 200-250 people in those years. Many of them bring fond memories
because we truly became friends and because I knew they had learned of GOD'S
UNENDING LOVE. One asked only for a doll for his two little girls for
Christmas.......one needed to know he had someone on the outside who cared.
(to this day, I hear from him a few times a year as he lives in another state.
he has had no further problems with the law, has married and lives with the
knowledge that he is loved) these blessings would have escaped me if I had
told GOD no, but HE blessed me so much by allowing me to be a blessing to
I have been out of the prison ministry now for a little over a year, because
of health problems and because the last man I wrote to was released a year
ago in Sept. He lives nearby with his family and works hard to do the right
things the right way.
YOU NEVER KNOW HOW GOD WILL CHOOSE TO BLESS YOU! NEVER
SAY NO AND MISS THE BLESSINGS YOU WILL RECEIVE.
ONLY BELIEVE............with faith the size of a mustard seed. Janet