From The Treasurer, Spring 2020 – Scott Duncan

What a privilege it is for me to serve as treasurer of Onesimus Ministries, taking the place of Roy Fite. My name is Scott Duncan and I’m from Oxford, PA. I previously worked in the accounting department at Herr Foods along with Roy Fite. During our time at Herr’s, Roy and I (along with a few others) would have a Bible study during our lunch hour and our group became very close. Roy also mentioned his involvement with Onesimus Ministries and invited me to their annual banquet at Mt. Vernon. Since the first time I attended the banquet, I knew this ministry was a true work of the Lord and I was happy to give what I could towards their efforts. Last year the board of Onesimus asked me if I would be willing to be the treasurer for them after Roy’s home call to be with the Lord. After much prayer and thought I felt the Lord leading me to join Onesimus beginning in 2020 for which I am thankful and privileged. Please pray that I’ll be able to continue the great job that Roy did while he served His Savior the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Unexpected Grace – Andy Duncan

Serving in Prison Ministry is incredibly challenging at times. There are those unexpected moments of anger from an inmate, blatant disregard for the ground rules and sadness at seeing and hearing about so much emotional and physical pain and suffering. There is also great joy in this Ministry as we experience much time in God’s Word preparing for our messages, listening to the encouraging testimonies from men whose lives are being touched by God and, on those rare but joyful occasions, seeing a newly returning citizen attend your church or hear about them getting plugged and doing well in all areas of life.

I recently had an interesting encounter with some inmates that left me concerned about the integrity of our Ministry, yet wanting to remain honest and transparent. The result was not what I expected and I am grateful in so many ways for God’s mercy and kindness in touching all our hearts.

At the beginning of the service, I gently request that there be no sidebar conversations during service. I explain that this is to show courtesy and respect for where they are, why they are there and that the majority of men want to engage God and worship Him. God is the main reason we are there and He is to be respected. I also tell them they may hear something that not only can change their life, but can save their life. I do tell them after one warning it will be necessary to call a CO and have them removed if they fail to obey. We try to extend grace as much as possible so that they see we are different than the environment they are currently in.

On this particular evening, two men continued in a conversation after my opening request. I warned them twice, but to no avail. I went and got a CO to escort them out as is protocol. One of them became very angry, denied he was talking and then told me in somewhat unpleasant terms that he and his buddy were talking about the Word – God’s Word – and that I should have asked them what they were discussing before I had them removed. They missed the point that any conversation, regardless of topic is disruptive. Being trained not to engage in disputes, I did not reply as they were escorted out. I hated to do it, but it needed to be done.

About two minutes later I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned to see an inmate asking me if I could speak with him in the back of the room. I thought he may have wanted to discuss the removal of the two guys; however, there was a sense of urgency about him. I was blown away by our conversation. This man had led a very troubled life and told me he was struggling to believe in God. However, he felt that something was changing. I shared the Gospel with him and encouraged him to check out our church in Downingtown. He said I would see him on Sunday as he was scheduled for release the next day, which he felt was a miracle.

As I headed back to my seat I became very convicted (guilty) that I had just violated my own rules! Here I was, having a conversation during the message. I had some “splainin’ to do Lucy.” I’m grateful I can chuckle about it now. But it was very unsettling at the time.

The next week as I introduced the service I told the story to the men, many of course, had been there the previous week. I told them I was a hypocrite and could offer no good explanation or excuse. I reiterated the rule about talking and said I don’t know what to say about my conduct.

One of the men raised his hand and said, “You were doing what you came in here to do. Minister to us. It’s all good!” Wow!! Talk about mixed emotions. The main one was gratitude – to God for His grace in the moment, the reminder and encouragement of why we are there. This man truly appreciated our presence and I believe it is an awesome reminder that we do make a difference! It can be so discouraging at times when we have no idea what, if any, fruit we are producing and how often have we been told by a returning citizen that he will see us at our church on Sunday and we never see him again.

I am encouraged and at times tell the men, I hope I never see you in here again. I tell them it would be a huge blessing to see them on the outside plugged in to a good church and thriving, but mostly it is my prayer that more of these guys than I’ll ever realize on this side of Heaven will be standing next to me worshiping God for eternity!

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Wouldn’t It Be Nice? – Vernon Myers

An invitation

Would it not be nice if we could supply Life Recovery Bibles as a resource for the chaplains at Chester County Prison to give to those who are serious about putting their lives in order? We have a wonderful opportunity to provide a life-altering resource which goes to the “heart issue,” offering hope for a better future for the residents and their families.

A Need / Opportunity / Testimony — Rhonda Soland, chaplain

We have been using the Life Recovery Bible for the past three years at Chester County Prison and they remain very popular with men and women alike. The feedback we have received has been tremendous. The LRB uses the easy-to-read, easy-to-understand New Living Translation, which is a big help to the inmates we serve. Since the majority of the incarcerated residents have some history with substance abuse, the recovery theme of the LRB makes it especially ideal to use in the prison setting. Another big plus with this Bible is the excellent study notes that are included on every page, helping the men and women learn to apply the Bible’s Truths to their lives. Here is a sampling of the feedback we have received:

  • “I love this Bible and it’s so much easier to read and understand for me. This is the Bible that got me thru rehab.” – Jolene
  • “The Life Recovery Bible has meant so much to me while being here, and without it, I would be lost. Thank you very much. My cellmate would really like one. I’ve been sharing how wonderful this one is to me and I believe it would help her as well.” – Mary

We would be so grateful if you would help us to keep a supply of these Life Recovery Bibles available to the residents of CCP. We have a 60% off arrangement with Tyndale House, the publishers of the Bible, which means a cost of $128 per case. Our desire is for churches (or individuals) to “sponsor” a case of 16–meaning, a donation to Onesimus of $128.00 would provide a constant supply of Bibles coming into the prison for every month of the year. We hope you will prayerfully consider helping us keep the Word of God available to the men and women of Chester County Prison. Thank you!

An Invitation — Andy Leatherman, member of the Board

We would appreciate if you or your church would be willing to “clip and return” the form below to sponsor a box of Bibles. The first 12 returns will cover the next 12 months going forward. –clip and return to Onesimus Ministries, 145 Bethel Road, Oxford, PA 19363– Count me/us in for a box of Bibles. My/Our donation of $128 is enclosed.


Contact Info___________________________________________

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Chaplain Jottings – Rhonda Soland

Even though fall is by far my favorite season, with its spectacular colors and cooling temperatures, there is definitely something about spring that brings excitement and a sense of hope. When those first bright flowers begin to appear and the first pale green leaves sprout on the trees, it seems to awaken something in our own souls—the expectation of new life.

Spring is a season of revival, when what was so long dead, or dormant, comes back to life. If winter is the “old man,” then spring is the newborn, bringing with it all the excitement and hope of a brand-new start.

It is very appropriate then, that at this time of year, we are seeing the seeds of hope that have long been planted through the chaplaincy program of Chester County Prison begin to sprout. We are continuing to see a growing spiritual hunger among the residents, men and women.

Practically every day there is another report:

  • One of the residents has given her life to the Lord,
  • A correctional officer asks for prayer,
  • Another asks for a Bible,
  • An inmate who has been incarcerated in CCP 15 times comes sincerely seeking to know God and is ready to turn her life around,
  • Women telling of the peace they feel when they read their Bibles and encouraging others to come to church with them, talking about the positive changes they’ve begun to notice in themselves.
  • So many stories, all speaking of men and women hungry for hope.

As God continues to do His work in the hearts of those at CCP, we want to thank you for coming along side us, supporting our efforts through your faithful prayers and giving. It makes such a difference and we are so grateful. And please, please pray with us that God will have His way in Chester County Prison and that we will see more and more men and women, both residents and staff, coming to the only source of true Hope for their lives. Especially at this time, when there is so much uncertainty and fear in our world, our God stands as a beacon of hope. Pray that more and more will come to see “the light” and turn and place their trust in Him.

I look forward to seeing many of you at the upcoming Banquet in the Fall and sharing with you more stories of the faithful work of our God. Thank you again for your prayers and support.

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“There Is Something Going on in this place” – Heinrich Botes

There is something I need to tell you…actually two things:

First, God is at work at Chester County Prison among inmates and staff and, secondly, that you, the reader, play an incredibly important role in the outreach to these 1000 incarcerated souls and those who care for them.

God is working not only among the inmates but also among the staff at Chester County Prison.

One mother of a former inmate recently started making regular monthly financial contributions to the chaplaincy; not only because of what the chaplaincy service meant for her son but because of another reason that totally surprised me.

We spoke about how God is drawing inmates to Himself from different religious persuasions and denominations…including Buddhism, Judaism and (equally miraculously) backsliders from a lukewarm “Christianity”!

As I explained to her that there are “secret’ or “stealth” believers among the staff and that God is also working among the staff, she exclaimed “To be quite honest, that’s actually the reason why I started donating to the chaplaincy…I saw the change in the attitude of the staff and how it contrasted from a few years ago when I had to visit my son at CCP”. She continued and said “The last time I drove out of the prison, I said to myself ‘There is something going on in this place, even among the staff…they are so polite and patient’.

What a great testimony and great encouragement to us who work here every day. “Thank you” for praying, “thank you” for giving money but also “thank you” for encouraging the chaplaincy team here at Chester County Prison. We are honored to represent you in this part of God’s vineyard but also want you to know that you are highly regarded and that without you this work may come to a grinding halt. Pray for us as you are reminded.

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Monday Night Fellowship – Andy Duncan

It’s hard to believe that it has been almost a year since Jim Kreider stepped down as leader of the Monday Night Prison Fellowship service. He has been a faithful and humble servant and there is much to be learned from him. I look forward to seeing him receive his crown!!

We have been so blessed to have a team of men who are devoted to this ministry, have the heart for the inmates, and the ability to effectively communicate the Gospel every week. God has grown our Ministry over this past year and I am humbled and amazed at His faithfulness. We are currently a team of 6 men including: Keith Raport, who also has a ministry in the facility in Chester. He always brings a straightforward Gospel message that is appreciated by the men. Alan Bradford, who has been coming out faithfully with Jim for several years, is our lead prayer warrior. Gabe Mahalik is a gifted speaker who also writes some amazing Christian rap that has great impact on the guys. Max Bentley shares God’s Word with great passion and compassion. And, our newest addition last Spring, Barry Brown, who is a pastor at Evangel Assembly of God Church in Glenolden. Barry is committed to traveling the distance from Delaware County to share God’s Word, which he does with great insight.

God has so blessed us in every sense as we also have our two outstanding chaplains in Heinrich and Rhonda, who continue to provide support, encouragement, and wisdom to guide us. I am looking forward to next year, serving alongside these wonderful folks and experiencing the Lord’s grace and kindness. It is indeed by His grace that we make a difference in the lives of so many!

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Reflections on Roy Fite’s Life – Phil Taylor

In Isaiah 55:8 we’re assured: ‘“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.’ We can easily nod in agreement when things are going our way, but that’s so difficult to accept when tragedy strikes as in the sudden death of our beloved treasurer, Roy Fite, in June. How could a loving God take a dad from his dear daughter, Mattie, who had already endured the loss of her mom in her young life? How could he steal Becky’s husband from her so soon after they were married? You’ll not find any answers here, but having suddenly lost one of my treasured daughters, Devan, 3.5 years ago, there is hope, and there is comfort because of a decision both she and Roy made some years ago…to accept God’s ultimate act of love in sacrificing His Son Jesus on The Cross as their one and only hope for all eternity.

So Roy is not dead…he is merely “asleep,” and Mattie, Becky, and all those who’ve made that same decision will yet see him with the certitude of never again being separated from him forever. At the judgment of rewards, we’ve no doubt that Roy will indeed be surrounded by a “huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith” he lived. Roy never set foot in CCP, yet the men and women he impacted by his faithful service to Onesimus via our chaplains, whose salaries he dutifully paid with the offerings he stewarded from our generous benefactors, might well be among that throng testifying to the impact that Roy’s faithfulness played in the eternal destiny of themselves and their descendants for generations. Or perhaps his legacy will be trumpeted by the accomplishments of Becky, or Mattie, or one of his yet-to-be-born grandchildren in adding to those whose “citizenship is in heaven.”

On May 31st, Roy sent me the balance sheet (for distribution at our bi-monthly meeting to be held at his and Becky’s home four days later) with the note, “Have a great weekend!” The very next day that weekend would be ruined by news of his heart attack and death. To a lost world that would seem to have been the tragic end for Roy. Yet to those whose hope is in Jesus Christ, June 1st will mark the day that Roy overcame this fallen world.

In the words of the beautiful tribute song, “Brother,” written by his brother, Bruce Fite, after Roy’s conversion: “Your new life has just begun One thing’s for sure – the victory’s won.”

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Chaplain Jottings – Rhonda Soland

The time has flown by! It’s been just over 10 months since I took on the mantle of chaplain for the females at Chester County Prison. It has gone by in a whirlwind, but being there has been so satisfying and fulfilling. I am so blessed to see the number of women increasing who regularly come to our church services and Bible studies. More and more of them seem to be coming to hear God’s Word taught and to learn about Him, rather than coming just as an opportunity to get off “the block.” They are reading their Bibles and devotional books, sitting together to study, and helping to build each other up in their faith.

God is on the move in Chester County Prison. Even the woman I meet with each week on Maximum security, after initially being cold and distant towards God, is now responding with interest and is diligently working in her Bible study book. I can see her faith growing, and it’s been so exciting to sit with her and have her ask questions about God or read to me Bible passages that are meaningful or comforting to her.

God in His sovereignty moves when He is ready to move. Please continue to pray for Him to do a mighty work among the men and women of the prison. We are grateful that you share in the work with us. As you pray and give, remember the Lord’s invitation, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to Me and drink.” (John 7:37)

The residents of Chester County Prison have had life experiences of addiction, abuse, neglect, rejection, suffering, etc; lives that have left them desperately thirsty for something more, something better. You are enabling us to offer Living Water to the men and women of the prison everyday, and increasing numbers of them are coming and drinking deeply, finding the refreshment, hope, and transformation that only God can provide. Thank you for your faithfulness. We can only guess at the eternal impact we may be having.

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Chaplain Jottings – Heinrich Botes

There are so many reasons to provide a chaplaincy service at Chester County Prison. Every day creates opportunities to share CHRIST as THE ANSWER to all the many and wide-ranging problems that face incarcerated men and women. This may sound overly simplistic, but I have no doubt that meaningful or lasting change will ever occur without a change of heart…a life turned over to the rule of the Jesus Christ.

Tears do flow, but if they are not tears of repentance, then they are merely an expression of frustration because of the consequences and inconveniences that sin and breaking the laws of God and society cause. In the past year we celebrated with those who put their trust in Christ for the first time, or who confessed their luke-warmness and backsliding. We were overjoyed with those who converted to Christianity from other faiths, including a Buddhist and a Jew. Baptizing them in the Name of Christ with water from a foam cup in the chapel creates memories that cannot be erased.

I am especially excited about what God is doing in the Maximum Security Section where I present Behold Your God every Monday morning. This is a new slot on the Chaplaincy Schedule which was allowed by the Prison. These men meet every night like a small congregation, pray and prepare their lessons whilst occasionally sharing communion on Sundays. While this may be waved-off as “jailhouse religion,” I believe we have no other option but to support them and to leave the results/fruit to the Lord of the Harvest.

Rhonda and I have been placed in the front-row seats by you (our supporters) to see how God Himself saves and comforts those who are broken, those who are lost. It is a team-effort and like Paul says in I Cor. 3, I realize that some plow, some sow, some water, and some reap. Thank you and may God bless every tear, every prayer, and every dollar!

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In Honor of Roy Fite – Vernon Myers

As we look toward the end of 2019, we are thankful to the Lord for all the friends of Onesimus Ministries. We are so grateful for your support of the ongoing chaplaincy ministry happening at Chester County Prison for the past 41 years. We are encouraged by the favor Onesimus has earned from the CCP administration, giving us permission to provide two chaplains as part of the spiritual ministry available to the residents at CCP.

It has been a good year with the encouraging work of Chaplains Heinrich and Rhonda who continue to build on the solid foundation from those who have gone before, most recently by Peter Roomet and Lil Anthony.

But 2019 hasn’t been without its pain. The unexpected and sudden death of Roy Fite, our treasurer, on June 1 was a blow. His financial expertise was invaluable, not only for his job at Herr Foods Inc., but also for the Board of Onesimus Ministries. His loss is keenly felt among us as we continue to make adjustments while finding our way to fill his shoes.

As we pray and look for a new treasurer, the Oxford CPA firm, Woolard Krajnik Masciangelo, has been hired to do the bookkeeping. We are grateful for their services.

Whereas Roy’s sudden passing was hard for Onesimus Ministries, the loss was far greater for his wife, Becky, of seven months and his young daughter, Mattie. It seemed far too early to “give up” their young marriage and family life that had “just begun.” The pain is deep.

As a testimony to the grace of God, we honor the man of God Roy had become. He was not always sympathetic to the grace of God. When Roy’s younger brother, Bruce, found faith in Jesus through the Young Life ministry, he excitedly went to his family’s business to talk to him about his faith in Jesus. Bruce’s encounter with Roy did not go well that day. He let Bruce know, in no uncertain terms, he did not want anything to do with his Jesus.

As Bruce tells the story, he “backed out” of Roy’s office that day, while praying inside, leaving his brother in the hands of the Holy Spirit. For the next ten years, Bruce interceded for his brother. Ten years to the day he revisited Roy in the same office. Something had happened! To his amazement Roy was talking about Jesus as the answer to life’s difficulties.

Roy had found a Bible and, knowing his brother as he did, Bruce surmises that Roy read the Bible cover to cover numerous times. Somewhere along the way the Holy Spirit sparked a heart change in Roy. He declared his faith in the forgiving grace of God in the person of Jesus.

Roy and Mattie joined his brother and family in worship at Andrews Bridge Christian Fellowship. Those were wonderful years of Christian fellowship as he grew in God’s forgiving grace.

During the years of waiting and praying for Roy, Bruce wrote a song he hoped to sing for his brother when the time was right. Little did he know, the “right time” would be at his brother’s funeral. Following are the lyrics:

Brother where have you been
I’ve been waiting here for you
Brother we meet here again
Now you’re a wounded healer, too.

It’s okay to be afraid
I know it seems so hard
This is why you have been made
But even a river needs a place to start.
For so long your beat was your own
The soil of your heart so bare
Little known the seed was sown
And now the fountain overflowing you share.

You’ll never know the battles you’ll see
With our common new friend true brothers we’ll be
Your new life has just begun
One thing’s for sure—the victory’s won.

2nd Chorus:
Brother wherever you go
I’ll be walking here with you
Brother let your light show
Walking free in the Truth.

We honor the life of Roy Fite and his contribution to all of us. We face life’s difficult challenges as the Old Testament man of God, Job, did. From the Book of Job 1:20-22

I. In the face of deep loss—Embrace the truth God is still Sovereign. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I will depart.”
God has the first word and He will have the last word of life. We cannot change the formula.

II. In the face of deep loss—Embrace the truth of God’s Provision. “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.”
Their marriage was far too short, but we are grateful Roy and Becky had each other and Mattie had both.

III. In the face of deep loss—Embrace the truth of God’s worthiness of worship. “May the Name of the Lord be praised.”
We are the most open to Jesus’ healing grace in our moments of worship—pulling Jesus into our deepest wound.

Thank you again, Roy, for all you did to bless Onesimus Ministries!

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