2020 newsletters

April 2020

Dear Friends,

There has been and still is much in the news about the Covid19 virus. The whole world has been affected. Many ministries have made adjustments to the new “norm” by going digital. For us this is not an option. Inmates do not have internet access. They do have limited supervised email. However, volunteers are not allowed to use this form of communication. As of a few days ago, the Department of Corrections has decided to temporarily lift this ban until they reopen the doors for us to come back in. The projected date for us returning to the prisons looks to be late June or early July and this is subject to our state’s stay home order. After talking with the director of Hope Aglow (the ministry we work in cooperation with) the requirements and cost involved in emailing inmates would not be advantageous for us. So, we continue to use regular mail to correspond with the men.

In the meantime, we have received letters from a couple of inmates. They too are affected by the executive stay home order. The facilities are on lock down and their normal daily routine has been altered as well. But, what a blessing to hear that even though they are not allowed to have church services, the few Christians in their individual pods are getting together for Bible study. It may only be 4 or 5 of them, but they are meeting together to study God’s Word.

For us, we continue “snail mail” with inmates. We are still busy caring for 3 parental figures. We are helping elderly supporters and neighbors who are in need of assistance. We continue to work on building relationships with unsaved neighbors. And we also started doing Bible study with one of our older neighbors.

This particular neighbor’s comprehension level is that of an 8th grader. He dropped out of school in junior high, was repeatedly told he was stupid, and he did manual labor all his life. He told us he remembers the day he got saved and has been going to church since (over 40 years). However, he also told us that he cannot understand the Bible (he has tried a couple of easy reading versions) and the sermons at church are over his head. We have started out simple with him. Since he does not know much of the Bible, we started using a children’s Bible story devotional (by Billy Graham). Honestly, we were amazed that he did not know the story of Noah or of Danial in the Lion’s Den or other Bible stories that we thought he would have heard at some point in his 40+ years of going to church. One day he asked us, “Why did God put these stories in the Bible?” We were able to share with him 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and IS profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” As well as Romans 15:4, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning….” We told him that when the apostle Paul wrote these, he was referring to the Old Testament. So, we can learn much from these stories and we shared several ways of how these stories are profitable for us today.

Our neighbor was told by someone else that there was a children’s Bible written on the child’s level, but he did not know what to look for or where to find one. (He does not have internet and does not know how to use it.) God is so amazing……the day he told us this, we received a phone call from a man cleaning out his den. This man asked if we could use Bibles for the inmates. He had many of them and just wanted them to be used. He went on to tell us that he even had one that was a children’s Bible. It was the very one our neighbor had been told about and was hoping for. We asked this man if we could give the children’s Bible to a man in the community. He was thrilled to do so. God knew our neighbor’s heart’s desire and answered it. Though he has only had it a few days, he is now enjoying reading his Bible because he can actually understand what it says. As we continue to have Bible study with him, we can see the Lord ever so slowly and gently working in his life.

Yes, God is amazing! Our world may be in standstill mode (compared to what it usually is), but God is still on the move and continues working in wonderful ways. To you, our ministry partners, we say thank you for your continued prayers and/or support. God’s Word and His work are still going forth.

For God’s Glory Alone!

Jay & Elizabeth

March 2020

Each month, we along with one to four other people, go to a little restaurant to eat supper just before going in to one of our prison services. Unless, she is not there we have the same waitress. It’s always a blessing to see her. She knows when she sees us that we are heading for the prison just a mile or two away afterwards. When she brings the bill she says she is praying for us and the service and then says, “If just one will listen!” Our going into this prison means a lot to her because she worked in that very prison for over 20 years. She has firsthand knowledge of what goes on there on a daily basis. Yet, even after all she has seen, she prays that even just one will listen and take the message to heart. We know the Lord has and continues to answer her prayers, for we know of several men who have done just that – listened, taken the message to heart, and has allowed the Lord to change their lives.

From this very prison comes our next story. We have been going to this prison since around 2002 and we have seen men come and go. It is interesting that just in the last several months; we have seen an influx of new men coming to the service. One of these new men, with a sparkle in his eyes, approached Jay after this last service excitedly asking if he could get all the verses that Jay referenced in his message. He is go hungry for the Word of God that he wanted to go back to his cell and look up all the references to study for himself. What a blessing to see someone so enthusiastic and excited to know the Lord more and study His Word! Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” (Matt. 5:6) This last story was told to us by one of our prayer partners. This gentleman went around to different people in his church that he knew were prayer warriors, asking them to specifically be praying for us as we would be going in to a group of men who were all registered sex offenders. One lady that he asked came back to him the next week to tell him that she had argued with God all week over this, telling the Lord she could not pray for them. This dear lady was in her 60’s but could not pray for these men because she had been raped as a teenager. She said that after arguing with the Lord over this all week, the Lord set her free to forgive the man who had raped her and was able to freely pray for us and this group of men. The Lord set her free from nearly 50 years of imprisonment to unforgiveness. She was praising the Lord for setting her free and thanking this man for the entrusting this wonderful privilege of praying for these men.

A quick update.…The Department of Corrections alerted us that because of the Coronavirus, it has cancelled all services until further notice. We pray this will not last long so we can get back to our ministry field. We thank you for your prayers and/or support to help us continue to go.

For God’s Glory Alone!

Jay & Elizabeth

Feb 2020

Dear Friends,

Recently, there has been interest expressed in how we became involved in prison ministry. We stepped out into full time ministry January 1, 1998 traveling the country as music evangelist. Our hearts were burdened with the number of people who go to church but had no interest in following Jesus. After the first year and half, we had a lull in our schedule but did not want to sit idle. We wanted to be about our Lord’s work. As Elizabeth was looking through some books that her late father had had, she ran across one by Richard Wumbrand who had been a prisoner under the Communist regime in Romania. On the back cover, there was a picture of a man’s hands shackled together with the inscription, “If that were Christ, would you give Him your blanket?” This struck a deep cord within her heart and she questioned herself, “Would I?” Then she remembered that her dad had been supportive of Hope Aglow Prison Ministry and its late founder Ed Martin (back in the 1960’s). Elizabeth wrote the current director, Garry Sims, telling him who we were and asked if they could use us in any way. He called and talked with Jay a long time, then asked us to join them for a service to see if prison ministry was a good fit for us. From our very first time going (October 1999), we fell in love (with God’s love) the ministry of sharing the gospel (the good news) with prisoners.

What we found was a hunger for Jesus that many in the outside/free churches did not have. We cast our net on the other side of the boat (John 21:6) and the Lord filled our net. To this day, He continues to fill our net with men who are searching for Truth as well as finding brothers in Christ who hunger for the Word of God.

With now having a reliable vehicle, we are once again able to return to one of our long distance prisons. One of the men told us he was so glad that we were “home” again! Another one made a bee-line for Jay after the service to tell him, “We needed that! There are some in here who say it doesn’t matter what comes out of their mouths.” He said he is so excited about the upcoming study Jay is starting with them from 1 John.

We recently received a letter from an inmate who said he finds it so amazing that there are people like us who love coming into prison to show them, in a real way, the love of God. We were able to tell him that he may only see us, but there are a number of others (you, our supporters and prayer partners) who care about them too and show they do by helping us continue to go to them.

We and the inmates thank you!

For God’s Glory Alone!

Jay & Elizabeth

2019 Newsletters are below

Jan 2020

We are excited to report to you that our Father has heard and answered your prayers!

As you know, many months ago, we requested prayer for our vehicle situation. The Lord has answered yours (as well as ours and the inmates) prayers by providing us with a reliable, fuel efficient car. Admittedly, there were many times we kept asking the Lord to give us direction on this matter. Each time, He answered with, “Wait.” Weeks would go by with no change and we would ask Him again. Over and over He would gently answer, “Wait. Just wait.” After months, in fact a couple of years, of praying and waiting, the Lord answered way beyond our expectations. As a result, we have given testimony to the inmates and many others of the Lord teaching us patient endurance. 2 Peter 1:5-8 tells us to give all diligence to add 7 things to our faith. Patience and temperance (endurance) are two of them. James 1:4 says to let patience have her perfect work. Not that we have this down pat, but we are learning and growing while in the process of being conformed into the image of Jesus. We again say, “thank you” for your prayers. We also want to thank those who gave financially to help with the need.

The Lord is so good!

As excited as we were with the answered prayer, what is more exciting is seeing the Lord work in our lives and being able in turn to minister to others. Starting this month, the Lord opened another prison door for us to go into on a regular basis. It is a small group of men, who are seeking to know the Lord more and wanting to grow in their knowledge and understanding of Him and His Word. Instead of a regular church service, this will be more like a small group Bible study. We are looking forward to what the Lord has in store for us and the inmates.

At a couple of facilities, the Lord led Jay to preach from 2 Timothy 4:2, explaining to the men what his assigned job from the Lord was. He told them he was not out to win a popularity contest with anyone but rather, his job was to preach the pure Word of God. Church is not a social club, it is not rec time, nor is it a place to get “feel good” messages to pacify them. Church is where we come together to be taught doctrine (God’s ways), to be reproved (convicted), to be corrected (to be set right again), and to be instructed in righteousness (how to live holy in conformity to God’s will). The purpose is for us to grow more and more into the likeness of Jesus. (2 Tim. 3:16-17 & 2 Cor. 3:18) There were several men who responded “I needed that!” “The Lord is good, His mercy is everlasting and His truth endures to all generations.” (Psalm 100:5)

God is still working today; showing love, mercy, and forgiveness to all who will turn to Him.

For God’s Glory Alone!

Jay & Elizabeth