Fall in New England is one of the most beautiful times of the year. The leaves turn so many vibrant colors and the amazing artistry of the one who created us is in full display for all to see. For some it may seem like a time when everything is dying, but for many it is a time of new adventure. Young children start their new school year and older children head off to College. For the sports enthusiast Football kicks off and my favorite Hockey season begins. Fall is also when RI Men of Hope begins another year of classes.
This fall is our 10th year of serving in the prisons in RI. We have five dedicated men who are following God’s call to serve in Medium and Maximum facilities. Each year brings old and new faces to class and every class is truly and adventure in the lives of these inmates. The feedback and letters that we receive from many who have taken the classes sharing their thanks for the hope they have found. The hope from the God of salvation who loved them enough to send his only son to die for them so that they may have eternal life. I want to share one such letter with the permission of the prisoner who sent it.
Dear Big John,
Hello and how are you? It has been about 7-8 years since we last spoke. I was over at Maximum from 2009-2013 and was one of the first students who participated in and graduated from the Men’s Fraternity programs. I also graduated from four of the Learning to Live classes as well. On January 10, 2011, I stood with my good friend and true Christian brother and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Then last October I got baptized just a few days after the passing of my mother, during a Sunday service here at Medium. I have been fully engaged in worshipping and servitude ever since.
This is part of the reason why I am writing you today. I am looking for help and direction. I am finishing up my sentence John, after 13 long years. I have been a model inmate taking all the right classes and programs to improve myself. I have been consistently involved with church and worship and have seen a big change in my life. I have also been very fortunate in maintaining to different trades for the past 10 year. When I was at Max I ran a multicolor digital printing press for the four years I was there. When I came to Medium in 2013 I was blessed again with one of the most sought after jobs in the entire compound – plumber’s apprentice. Big John, Charlie Burns was the one who suggested I get in touch with you and check to see if you could help me in any way possible. I met Charlie back in Max and got to know him really well over the last seven years, ever since I began taking the Bible College classes, which I finished over here. Charlie stays in touch with a few of us and has been very encouraging over the years. He will be heading back to Arizona sometime in mid-late October. He has a speaking engagement on October 13th (I believe) at a church and he is speaking about “prison ministries.” I am hopeful that I will be able to attend.
John, I’m going to be residing at the men’s shelter on the grounds of the D.O.C. called Harrington Hall. That’s okay. This is all God’s plan. The good news is that I have now qualified for residential assistance with the Crossroads organization. They will pay a substantial amount towards rent of up to $950 per month. The also supply the deposit and first three months and will assist with these payments for up to two years. Unfortunately, my family are having a difficult time in finding me a place. I guess that’s to be expected since I’m not able to meet the landlord’s in person. If you have any leads that may be open to tenting to me it would be fantastic. I am also looking for employment as soon as possible. I would like to find a job within the plumbing field if possible. I have gotten pretty good at it and really love this kind of work. It’s very gratifying. If you know of a company for companies that would be willing to try me out, I would let you down. If you know of another type of job or jobs I would be very much open to those as well. I am giving you my sister’s address and telephone number where I can be reached at any time. I let her know that I have written you and she is very supportive of my future. I am also very interested in getting involved in a men’s group. I want to do all I can to stay engaged in positive activities so I can increase my chances at a successful future.
I understand how you must be feeling right now. Who is this guy? I wouldn’t expect you to remember me either. All I can say John, is I am a better man now mentally, physically, and most importantly spiritually, then when I first started this over 13 years ago. I can truly say that this has been the most paradoxical experience in my entire life. My journey began so dark and bleak but ending in becoming something so much more. God had plan for me, and part of His plan was correcting me and saving me, because he loves me just like a dad loves son and wants the best for him. I am ready for whatever he has planned for me next. I know that He is not done with me yet.
Well Big John, I hope and pray that I’ll hear from you sometime soon. If not that is okay. I wish you all the best and that the Father will continue to you good health, joy and much happiness. Take good care. Thank you for listening and your time.
Please be in prayer with us that the Holy Spirit will direct this inmate and continue to do a mighty work in his life and so many more of the other inmates. Thank you for your continued prayers and support. We wish you and your families a Happy Thanksgiving full of God’s great blessings.
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