Quarterly News Letter – October 2015
Prisoners of Hope Ministries, Inc
A Global University Prison Ministry Learning Center
Working in the prisons and jails can be a heavy burden, but we have learned over the years to focus on the miracles, and there are many. The following testimony is a case in point:
From the Heart of an Inmate:
My life growing up was your normal kid’s life; my father was always in and out of prison; so were my uncles and my sister. My sister was selling drugs and living the night life. My dad was a Mexican mafia member out of California. Some of my uncles were high ranking hitmen.
My mother tried to keep me away from all this, but I was a hard-headed kid. By 11 years old, I was smoking marijuana, drinking, running the streets; by 15 years, I was selling marijuana and carrying weapons. I had my first kid at 16.
I had a good heart—if you needed some-thing, I would be there, but if you did me wrong, then we had some issues. I got caught with a gun and drugs and went to Juvenile a few times. There I met some new people and made new connects for drugs and guns. My dad showed me the Mexican mafia life; he wanted to be sure I was a man! Told me not to get tattoos on the street—get them in prison!
I been in and out of prison my whole life; nothing but pain, hurt, stress and death all around me. My sister and a brother ended up murdered. Growing up, I had an uncle who used to touch me; I never knew til I got older that this was wrong. I have been attacked mentally, physically, socially; it has been a long road and no matter what I did or touched, it always turned out bad.
How did I get here this time? I was selling drugs, working for the Mexican mafia; the devil had me in a headlock. At a set-up drug buy, we got the call to kill the dealer. So it happens! A few days later we all got caught and ended up here.
For the first time in my life, I looked around the cell and was, like, what am I doing here?! I fell on my knees and cried and prayed. I was so stressed out, I didn’t eat for a month. I woke up and saw my life for what it was; everything I have done. I found a bible on the floor (someone was using it to do push-ups). I started to read, looking for answers. And when I began to feel good, Bam! I got hit with the death penalty.
I couldn’t believe it, but I stayed in the Word and asked God to help me change. I never thought I could, Never! But, I knew it was time. I wrote out my confession; I told my lawyers everything and that’s when the change happened. I continued to pray and kept believing. Three months later the death penalty was dropped for a life sentence. That was God’s blessing.
I began to defend people getting hurt in the jail, doing the right thing for a change. I started giving back cause I had been taking all my life. God helped me see the light. Now I am an “informant.” If I die, I die happy cause I am going to heaven.
It blows my mind how God works. He has saved me from all kinds of death. God blessed me and saved me from the streets. The streets are tough, a never-ending cycle and you can’t trust no one.
But, God has opened my eyes to His world and I am thankful. God has me on this path for a reason. This is a real quick look at my story. God works wonders. For me to live is Christ, to die is gain. Keep me and my family in prayer.
Inmate, 4th Ave Jail
(Yes, this is a true story; and not an unusual one! These things happen here, on our streets—kids leading “normal” lives filled with death and pain. But, God does do wonders! We see it every day! And we are grateful for the privilege!)
I want to keep this theme going—lives are changed; God does wonders; the Spirit is alive and strong in jail and prison cells!
I can’t thank you all enough for these courses. There are times when I feel discouraged and start getting depressed and don’t feel like reading my bible, but then I receive your bible study book and I can’t put it down. So when I’m at my lowest, God uses you to reach me. Thank you!
Inmate, Central AZ Correctional
- Thank you for the studys; it is helping me grow. The Lord is renewing me every day. My thinking has changed a lot. I find myself praying for everyone and everything. This is my 5th time in prison so that says a lot. The Lord is still working on me but I can honestly say that this is my last time in this place. Thanks to the Lord who I give all the praise and glory.
Inmate, Yuma State Prison
- These studies give me the chance to minister to others what you have taught me. I had this “know-it-all” guy doubt that Jesus is God and he gave me all his false reasons why he believe that. But, I had just finished studying the book, Who Jesus Is, and I was able to demolish his thinking. I left him questioning his beliefs and offered him the book so he could study for himself and he accepted. Praise the Lord. Its amazing to be loved by the Master Creator Himself. Why did I continue to walk in darkness all them years, decades in misery when there has always been a way out? My Jesus loves me. Wow!
Inmate, Florence State Prison
- From the way I think, to the way I talk. Jesus is my Lord. I’m so thankful for what He did for us. Without Him, I’d surely be lost. While I was in 4th Avenue Jail, I gave my heart to Jesus. I asked Him to save me from the hell I was in. He did! And so much more. I can’t find words that could explain the joy and peace that I found with Jesus. I’m sure you understand.
Inmate, Lewis State Prison
(We definitely understand and can only say “Amen!”)
Prison of the Month
Now we can’t let you get away with just praise and hallelujahs—you have got to have some prison education, too!
Federal Bureau of Prisons
I used to think that Arizona held first place in Correctional Facilities, but we have to take second seat to the Federal Government (BOP). Here is a list of the BOP Correctional Facilities within the United States:
United States Penitentiaries – 20
(Hi-security with reinforced walls and fences and cell-type housing)
Federal Correctional Institutions (FCI) – 65
(Medium security with double fences; mostly cell-type housing; some work and treatment programs)
Federal Prison Camps – 6
(Minimum security; dormitory housing; work oriented; many located adjacent to larger facilities or military bases for work assignments)
Administrative Facilities – 19
(Special facilities for seriously ill; extremely dangerous; escape prone)
That is a total of 110 Federal Correctional Facilities, of which Arizona is the “proud” home of one Federal Penitentiary (Tucson) and two Federal Correctional Institutions (Tucson and Phoenix).
Who is Uncle Same Locking Up??
Picture a prisoner in your mind. How old is he? What’s his race? What crime did he commit? If you’re like most of us, you’ve probably got a pretty detailed idea, fueled by films, news coverage or your own imagination. But have you ever wondered how well that picture jives with reality? Consider these statistics from the Bureau of Prisons.
As of January 28, 2012 (a little outdated, but…), the Federal Bureau of Prisons has 216,511 inmates in custody.
- The majority (59 percent) are white.
- More than 6 percent are women.
- The average federal prisoner is 39 yr old.
- Only 3 percent are serving a life sentence
- Almost half (49 percent) are behind bars for a drug offense.
- Fewer than one in ten are behind bars for murder or rape.
- Twelve percent are behind bars for an immigration offense.
- Twenty-seven percent are citizens of a country other than the United States.
Our volunteers are so very faithful and hard-working. Here are their results for this Quarter:
- Responded to 334 first time requests for Christian literature (up from 323 last quarter)
- Enrolled 148 new students in the 2-year program
- Distributed 1,693 bible study textbooks (increase of 148 over last quarter).
- 15 inmates made first-time commitments to Jesus as Lord and Savior
- Current student enrollment as of the end of September: 559 active students
- Jim conducted 36 worship services in the County Jail and held 255 personal counseling sessions with county inmates
What an amazing testimony to our God of Provision, our Jehovah Jireh!
From the Editor
- I cannot help but reflect on God’s Provision with every letter we respond to. Our supporters have been so very faithful to us; it is overwhelming at times. God has never failed to meet our every need. We may get right down to the very last book on the shelf, but God always comes through.
- One of the most encouraging and humbling events is when we receive donations from the very ones we are serving—the inmates! Their hourly pay for work assignments can range from .35 cents an hour up to a whopping .65 cents an hour, so when a $20.00 check comes in the mail from an inmate, it is cause for celebration.
- Just a quick update on the work in New Mexico and Nevada. As you know, the Kingman riots moved some of the Arizona inmates to a temporary location in New Mexico. This gave us an opportunity to meet and establish connection with a couple of the Chaplains there. And new referrals are coming out of the woodwork! Its really exciting to see the doors open. And as our mission field grows, our need for an increase in volunteers grows with it.
- If you are computer literate, familiar with your bible, comfortable in praying for special needs, and able to mentor a new believer, we have just the place for you.
- And if you can do all of this in Spanish and English and are willing to work from our office, you would be a special Our Spanish student population is growing and every day we see the need to have someone right in our midst, working with us, shoulder to shoulder as a special minister to these Spanish students.
- Another area of need is at the County Jails in downtown Phoenix. Jim needs a male partner to work with him in conducting church services and meeting with inmates one on one for personal counseling and prayer. At this time, church services are on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Training is provided. Comprehensive application forms are required and MCSO will conduct a background check. So, if you have been out of jail and prison for at least five years, you may qualify! J
Once again, we say “Thank you!” Thank you for giving this forgotten generation of prison inmates an opportunity to hear the Good News. Thank you for being a part of changing lives; thank you for your prayers for us, for the inmates, and for their families. What a joy it is to serve with you in ministering under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Jim and Carol Carper
Prisoners of Hope Ministries, Inc