Quarterly Newsletter – Spring 2019
From the Editors Desk
I cannot believe that I actually printed “Spring” at the top of this page! Wasn’t it just Christmas a couple of weeks ago? Even though time is flying by without our being aware, the passing of time brings our “Home Going” ever nearer, and for that I am eternally grateful.
But, that brings another concern to our attention! Are we truly ready for that “Home Going?” What is the condition of our relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ? How would we be rated in the areas of service, worship, honor, and obedience to Him and to His Word? A couple of weeks ago, Pastor Ben mentioned in his sermon that in every morning prayer, his first petition is “use me today, Lord.” My prayer is similar. What is yours?
Okay, end of sermon! I am sorry! I have been in a teaching mode for weeks, so I ask for your patience. Let’s find out what is happening in the foreign lands of incarceration.
From the Heart of an Inmate:
(but the teaching continues—this from an inmate at Tucson State Prison)
As a child, God was made known to me. In my heart I looked at myself as a Christian, but I can honestly say I wasn’t fond of church and never picked up a bible.
As I got older, I started getting more into the life of drugs, crime and violence. Things in my life got worse—very “worse,” and very quickly! By 16, I was done with school; my main focus was drugs, friends, girls and fun. A year later I found myself at my girlfriend’s house, depressed, intoxicated and with a loaded gun in my hand. Sitting there with the barrel of a gun under my chin, I remember praying for the first time in a long time.
Seconds later the gun went off! I don’t remember pulling the trigger, but I shot myself in the head, point-blank. I do remember my girlfriend calling ‘911.’ I remember the blood, the pain, and thinking,”I’ll never wake up again!” But, God came to my rescue. I came out of that hospital with no permanent damage.
For most, this would have been the “game-changer,” but I was more stubborn than most. My drug addiction and criminal behavior increased, and over the next 9 years drugs, crime, wasted efforts and wrong relationships became the norm. Through it all, God was there. Even when I broke vow after vow to Him, He never has forsaken me.
I may now be in for the longest incarceration, yet. But the big difference now is God’s position in my life. He has always been there, but now I am putting my full trust and faith in Him. I am no longer alone, frustrated, angry or addicted. I’m not in the best surroundings, but I am content, at peace, and have the Almighty God.
For the first time, I’m putting my all into a relationship with Him.
When you decide enough is enough, that you are ready to build your foundation on the Rock, that you are done looking for love in all the wrong places, God is the One and Only answer. Give Him just a little of the effort you have put into all those dead ends, and you will not regret it—you will not be disappointed.
Inmate, Tucson, Rincon Unit
(There is much more to the story, and we hope we can share more in the future. God IS the Answer for each of us)
Prison Facility of the Month
(A Real Second Chance!)
There are a lot of reports out there about the job market heating up, but not everyone has an easy time finding work. This is especially true for those who have been convicted of crimes
In March of 2017, Governor Ducey launched a program he called Second Chance to equip inmates with the skills and resources they need to successfully reenter society—all before leaving prison, with the expectation
that they will never return!. The program is currently located at the Lewis and Perryville
State Prisons in Maricopa County and the Tucson State Prison in Pima County. The three centers offer inmates job skills training, resume and interview preparation, on-site job fairs, and much more!
The Second Chance Center at Perryville is located in the Piestewa Unit and inmates have to volunteer to be a part of the program. It’s a place where people who have made some big mistakes in life are getting training, and inspiration, as well.
The Centers are operated through a partnership between the Dept of Corrections, the AZ Dept of Economic Security and the AHCCCS program. The folks from Christ Church of the Valley (CCV) and the Rescued, Not Arrested aftercare program has been instrumental in the program, as well.
At this point more than 95 local employers have signed up to offer job opportunities. Last October, the AZ Cardinals made a surprise visit at the Lewis Prison 2nd Chance Center, and after hearing testimonies from the ex-offenders, current inmates, and employers, expressed a commitment to encourage other employers to join the partnership.
News and Updates:
- We have a current student population of 390 inmates—down a bit, but on the way up
- We did not keep detailed records of graduates until five years ago, but in the last five years 113 men and women have graduated from the full 36-course program!
- But, what is really interesting is that of those 113, 30 of those graduates are serving life sentences.
- During the past three months, we have awarded eight Graduation Bibles.
- 132 first time requests were responded to just during January and February.
- Our volunteers conducted 35 worship services and provided personal one-on-one religious counseling to 57 inmates in the County Jail System.
- Gate Greeters met 16 girls at the Gate at Perryville State Prison over the past three months. Unfortunately, that program has come to an end due to personal issues and some changes within the prison system.
- Prisoners of Hope distributed 781 bible study courses during the past quarter.
(Now, lets hear what those students have to say for themselves!)
- Carol, can you guys pray for me? I really need to change my ways because I find myself sometimes getting into trouble. I want to be able to go home on my release date.
Inmate, Florence State Prison
- Thank you for sending me the Christian Life books. I am currently
on lock down 23 hours a day. I spend my morning reading and studying the bible and working on the study you send me. I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and even tho I am lock down for 23 hours my Lord has set me free. Thank you once again and I am looking forward to the next study.
Inmate, Lower Buckeye Jail
- Well, brothers and sisters, as you can tell I ended up having a backslide. I got into a fight, got my jaw broke, then went to drugs because of the pain. Now I am in the hole and have been for 30 days and I feel better that I got God back in my life. Please pray for me that I stay on this narrow path and don’t backslide again.
Inmate, Kingman Prison
- It is a blessing to have these bible studies. Praise God! Thank you for your help and your love. I have made my decision clear to the skinheads (Arian Brotherhood gang) here that I gave my life to Christ and don’t want anymore of that lifestyle. God softened their hearts to the point I haven’t had any consequences for it. Praise Him! They have asked me to cover my skinhead ink (identifying tattoos) I told them I would.
I do miss meeting with Pastor
Jim for our one-on-ones (personal counseling at county jail) They were definitely helping me understand the bible better. Thank you so much for them.
Inmate, Red Rock Correctional, Eloy
We thank you again for all of your support, your prayers, and your encouragement. We continue to thank God for each one of you. We are confident that you are being blessed in direct proportion to your blessing to those ministries that God has put on your heart to support—have a blessed week, and we look forward to seeing you at the breakfast on April 13th (see invitation on back page)
Jim and Carol Carper
Prisoners of Hope Ministries
PO Box 428
Youngtown, AZ 85363