The Lighthouse Keeper is Moving On – Chaplain Peter

The lighthouse is a tall permanent tower or other structure
with a powerful light that gives a continuous or intermittent
signal; a signal for guiding navigators of seafaring vessels
around dangerous rocky shores or to the entrance of a safe
harbor. Prior to electricity the light of the lighthouse was
illuminated by an oil lamp magnified by a Fresno Lens. Without fuel the fire
of the lamp would not burn. But without the lighthouse keeper the fuel would
never make it to the lamp. Every day the keeper would have to tend the lamp
by carrying enough fuel up the tower for the lamp to burn all through the night
as well as tend to trimming the wick and keeping the lens as clean as possible.
Every day no matter what the conditions would be, the keeper would climb 217
steps to tend to his duties so the light would shine. This all-important structure
has for years been the saving grace of many a sailor.
What of prisons and lighthouses, keepers and chaplains? There is a great
similarity among them all. One may not think of a prison as a lighthouse yet it
can so be compared. Some people get off the correct path of life or have no clue
which way to go at all. These folks need direction to a safe harbor or guidance
to avoid the rocky shoals of life (Deut. 11:26-28). Wrong choices have men and
women end up incarcerated to protect society from the criminals.
For the inmate, the lighthouse did not keep them from the rocky shore, but
in turn, became a beacon of hope to a safe harbor. Now the inmates (fellow
human beings) are now then protected from society to gain strength and proper
bearing of direction. Ultimately the direction is Jesus who is the Light of the
World (John 8:12). Prison brought a stop to the insanity and had them in a place
where they received the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
The Chaplain, lighthouse keeper if you would, is instrumental in making
the introduction between Jesus and the inmate. As a Chaplain at Chester County
Prison, I have had many conversations with inmates who have professed that
going to prison was what saved their lives. Praise God for the safe harbor and a
caring soul entrusted with keeping the fire in the lamp fueled and burning.
Each day the Chaplain has a responsibility to tend to the spiritual needs of
the prison population as varied the tasks may be. Fuel for the Spiritual Lamp is
supplied each day in the form of prayer, Bibles, relevant reading material and
Bible studies. All of this could be referred to as the oil for the lamps lovingly
supplied by the “keeper.”
Every day the Chaplain is called upon to minister to the needs of a “lost
sailor.” The counseling that occurs comes from the firm foundation of the Word
of God dispensed by one of Spirit and experience (i.e. I was a lost and floundering
inmate at one time who was touched by the love and care of Chaplain Keith
Brooks).
I haven’t climbed 217 steps each day to tend the lamp, but
I have driven 38 miles round trip. This amounts to 238,140
miles over 27 years. Each day over the same amount of
years, time invested has amounted to approximately 49,248
hours of tending the lamp of Chester County Prison. The
lamp has not gone out and continues to burn bright.
Ministering to the inmates has been and is a privilege
and a joy but just as a lighthouse keeper ages and may be
called to a new direction of occupation so, too, have I.
Come April of 2018 I will not be retiring, but re-firing, as
my mentor Keith would say. My wife, Theresa and I will be
moving to southern Delaware to experience the next chapter
of life together that the Lord has in store for us. Surely I
will be involved in ministry of the Lord’s calling in some
way, for when you work for God you do not retire until you
die. How can one ever stop working for and through God?
The past 27 years as a Chaplain at CCP has been a great
joy and blessing that has changed and developed my life
to this very moment. I am and will be eternally grateful to
the Board Members of Onesimus Ministries for their love,
prayers and support through all of my years of service to the
inmates of Chester County Prison. I am also thankful for the
support of all of the churches, individuals and organizations
who have contributed prayers and finances to Onesimus
Ministries for my support.
Please know that this is not the end of Onesimus
Ministries Chaplaincy at Chester County Prison. Lillian
Anthony is still in the trenches and Onesimus Ministries
will be supporting another chaplain to follow me in service
to the needs of the inmates. Support is needed not only to
continue but to increase so that more of the vision of the
ministry can be fulfilled.
April is not so far away and it is with great sorrow that
I will leave the service of Onesimus Ministries in Chester
County Prison. I also have a joyful heart knowing that the
ministry I have served will continue and become even more
effective in the years to come helping to “save” the lost
people adrift on the sea of life.

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From The Treasurer, April 2017 – Roy Fite

Dear Friends, We greatly need your prayers and support in order for this Ministry to continue to meet the financial commitment to our Chaplains. In 2016 we received almost
$9,000 less than the amount of support needed for Peter & Lil. At this writing we have less than two weeks of support at hand and are many weeks away from our Annual Spring  Banquet. I pray that you will be able to join us on April 7th at Mt. Vernon Christian Church to celebrate Peter & Lil as well as 38 years of prison ministry at CCP! Stay ever so faithful knowing that our prayers will be heard and answered!

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Prison Fellowship – Jim Kreider

We continue to be grateful for the privilege of sharing the Good News of Jesus in Chester County Prison on Monday evenings. Our total attendance of the two services varies from thirty to forty. We have prayer time with the men, sing together, share testimonies and a message from the Bible. Each service lasts about 90 minutes.

GOD IS GOOD – ALL THE TIME.

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Learning to Wait upon the Lord – Chaplain Lil

Isaiah 40:31 For those who wait upon the Lord, they shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not grow faint.
In this passage of Scripture, which I am sure everyone is familiar with, we are given the specific instruction to WAIT. Waiting is difficult for many of us. We live in an instant society. When we wait and seek God’s will, we begin to see His plan, we are renewed, and when we move forward God gives us the strength to move onward and upward. Many of the women have testified of this at CCP. They talk about how after trying the things of the
world, being locked up in a cell, and stripped of all their worldly possessions all there is is time to wait. God uses this time to build, bless, equip and strengthen us so that when
we are ready, we soar like eagles. Will you wait on the Lord for His best in your life?
Thank you for your financial and prayer support.

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Ground Zero – Chaplain Peter

Ground zero, words that conjure up visions of destruction, mayhem and death for many individuals. You may first think of 9-11 in New York or the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma. Maybe you think of the beginning of the AIDS epidemic or Ebola. Perhaps on a smaller scale yet none the less tragic the massacre of innocent children in an Amish school house in Nickel Mines Pennsylvania. Have you ever considered prison as ground zero? I would encourage you to view prison as ground zero in a positive way as opposed to a preconceived negative. Ground zero generally means the center or source of a dramatic occurrence causing destruction but prison can have just the opposite effect.

What if? Just as a seed that is planted in the ground must die to then grow into a productive plant so to a person who is “planted” in prison can die to self and then grow to be a productive citizen upon release. Prison more often than not is the cataclysmic outcome of a sinful and destructive way of thinking. The beginning of a new way of thinking that leads to a new way of living in turn begins at this new zero called prison.

When a person is saved and then becomes a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), they are similar to the start of new plans for a new building or life that would not have been built without an initial death or destruction. The plans are not to make things just as they were before, but to eliminate that which was faulty or wrong and replace it with a new and improved model.

I can relate to Paul as a chaplain/pastor when he wrote to the church of Corinth about building on a foundation of Christ. As an expert builder (26 years), I lay a firm foundation each day inside the walls of Chester County Prison (1 Cor. 3:10-12) yet the responsibility of building upon it still rests on the inmate. The inmates (New Creations in Christ) need nurturing, teaching and encouragement to succeed in the new life that can start at Ground Zero.

Each man’s work will be revealed with fire and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work” (1 Cor. 3:13-15). Chaplains are the emergency response team charged with going into the fire and try to help save the lives of those who are going down in flames. “Anything that can withstand the fire must be put through the fire” (Numbers 31:22-23). This is not a maybe, but a when that happens and an offender is released back into society. We are striving for all individuals who are released from prison to be able to continue to grow as viable additions to your neighborhoods.

To know what chaplains do as first responders is only a phone call or email away: 610-932-4429 for our chairman of the board or roomet@verizon.net for me. I would very much like to share with you and your fellowship or organization the vital role we play in this drama of life. Please extend an invitation so we can schedule a meeting or service to explain what we do and how vital your support is in this vital mission field.

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Standing Solidly Still when the World Is Spinning in Chaos and Confusion – Vernon Myers

Is it true, or does it just seem that way? It seems our communities and nation are “swirling in a whirl pool” of chaos and confusion. Is it not an understatement to say the past year with the intensity of the political campaign and election process, and the three months since, our communities are in turmoil. In Galatians 5:14-16 the Apostle Paul speaks truth when he challenges us–

14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. 16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

Not only is the political discourse difficult, add to the mix the moral and social confusion, when what is right gets turned on its head, and what was once regarded as wrong becomes commonplace and socially acceptable. Peer pressure pushes people to do and be what was once unthinkable. One of our young adults said in my hearing, “It used to be that the choices of sexual orientation was either male or female. Now there are 58 options.” Sounds rather confusing and chaotic.

People are looking for anchoring truths around which to bring order to everyday life and living. I find great strength in Psalm 90. Allow God’s truth to break into your life. Sometime take time with a good cup of coffee and write on a legal pad some of the anchoring truths for life.

  1. “Lord, you have been my dwelling place from life’s beginning. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” All else just simply falls away — “You, Lord, are the only truth which ultimately matters.”
  2. Such Truth stares you in the face— Psalm 90 is a “strong affirmation of trust” in my life — even with all its uncertainties and pain. It is also a “solid foundation of truth” in my life, even when all else in my life is getting “turned upside down.”
  3. God knows all — the good, the bad, and the ugly. Yet, he loves me. The truth is God did not send Jesus to “redeem” us because we are good; rather the opposite — “He loved us while we were still in the depth and despair of the sins in which we find ourselves” — sins of our own choices and the sins impacting us from the choices of others.
  4. In quietness — Jesus whispers into the depth of our inner souls — “I died that you might live.” My favorite verse of the Bible. II Cor. 5:21: “God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
  5. Not only do we need to receive grace; we need to give grace. As we repent and receive the marvelous grace of our loving Lord, grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt—we are “hit with the truth” — if we are to experience the forgiveness of our own sins toward God and those who we have wronged, we will need to offer forgiving grace to others who have wronged us. Jesus taught us to pray — “Forgive us our trespasses as we  forgive those who trespass against us.”
  6. Try this for an anchoring statement in your soul — “My deep and desperate desire to put Jesus at the center of my soul. This day I repent of my own will and my own way. I want to walk with Jesus. I submit to him as Savior and Lord.”
  7. Sipping on your coffee, put on paper your list of “God’s wisdom” you want to build into the remaining days of your life. Such a day could be a wonderful life changing moment for you. My prayer is it would happen — that healing will come to the center of your
    soul.
    One of the gospel songs which anchors my soul says it well.

Will Your Anchor Hold?
Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift or firm remain?
We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move.
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.
It is safely moored, ’twill the storm withstand,
For ’tis well secured by the Savior’s hand;
And the cables passed from His heart to mine,
Can defy the blast, through strength divine.

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Wise Words from Dad – Chaplain Lil

If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

These were wise words both my sister and I heard from our father countless times growing up. This is a life principle that was birthed from Scripture. It can heal a hurting relationship, especially in the prison setting.

Jesus gave us an example of how to resolve conflicts between people. In Matthew 18:15-17 (message Bible)

“If a fellow believer hurts you go and tell him, work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend, if he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If this does not work, start from scratch.”  We are always to work towards a resolution.

I have had my own personal experiences serving as the women’s chaplain, helping to resolve conflicts between women.  It is a challenge to help people to resolve conflicts in a helpful and productive manner.

In Proverbs 19:11b tells us “It is His glory to overlook an offense.”   That makes offense a choice. That is a life lesson. Forgiveness goes a long way.

The world needs a Savior and His name is Jesus. As the women’s chaplain, I pray His light shines through me to the ladies of CCP.

In His service,

Chaplain Lil Anthony

 

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Dysfunction – Phil Taylor

Chaplains Peter and Lil Have a Difficult Task To Do.

In their quest to minister to the men and women in Chester County Prison and to bring them the Good News of Jesus Christ, Peter Roomet and Lil Anthony are in reality battling “strongholds” erected decades earlier in an inmate’s life, and oftentimes generations before he or she was even born. Sadly the behaviors & attitudes that led to their incarceration were likely perpetuated to them as children.  So their chance of escaping this family legacy of dysfunction is almost impossible.  The statistics that support this claim are sobering to say the least:

  • 70% to 87% of prisoners grew up in homes without both parents,
  • Boys who witness domestic violence in their own home are 3 times more likely to become batterers.
  • Children of alcoholics have a 4-fold increased risk of becoming alcoholics as adults compared with the general population.
  • Up to 90% of prisoners have had a parent or close relative that was in jail.

Such dysfunction in a family impacts the children so negatively that psychotherapists have labeled him or her a “wounded inner child” which will carry that label and the resultant emotional disorders and destructive behaviors for the rest of their lives.  Worst of all their own children are all but doomed to inherit the same grim fate.  No wonder the godly patriarch of Chick-fil-A, S. Truett Cathy, wrote a great little book entitled It’s Better to Build Boys than Mend Men.  Yet that’s exactly what Peter and Lil are trying to do at CCP…mend broken men and women.

Like any rebuilding project though, the effort is doomed unless it’s being rebuilt on a firm foundation.  Here the advice of the Apostle Paul, a man who became the quintessential example of rebuilding a destructive life, should be followed explicitly: “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care.  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:10-11 (NIV))  Thankfully Peter & Lil have heeded that wisdom exactly.

We can assist them in their noble cause by praying for not only the families of inmates in CCP, but for wounded inner children throughout the world.  Our prayer must be that they will commit their lives to Christ, and become the courageous ones in their own families – so firmly anchored on that firm foundation, so they will determinedly break the ongoing cycle of dysfunction in their home once & for all.  Interceding must be for not just their salvation, but for them to role-model fidelity to the Word with such steadfastness. that they’re sure to weather the inevitable storms that will follow. As Jesus challenged: “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say?  I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it.  It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built.  But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house right on the ground, without a foundation.  When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.”  Luke 6:46-49 (NLT)

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Sand and Stone – Chaplain Peter

A story tells that two friends were walking through the desert.  During some point of the journey, they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in the face.  The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, he wrote in the sand:

Today my best friend slapped me in the face.

They kept walking, until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath.  The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but his friend saved him.  After he recovered from the near drowning, he wrote on a stone:

Today my best friend saved my life.

The friend, who slapped and saved his best friend, asked him, “After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand, and now, you write on a stone, why?”

The other friend replied: “When someone hurts us, we should write it down in sand, where the winds of forgiveness can erase it away, but when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it.

Learn to write your hurts in the sand and to carve your blessings in stone.

–Unknown

 

All too often the carving in the stone is the message of shame and pain that many men and women carry on their backs throughout their lives.

So many people harbor bitterness and un-forgiveness from past hurts in life and are imprisoned by their feelings.  Not only imprisoned by their feelings but incarcerated for the inappropriate behavior that too often follows those feelings.  A major portion of my time in Chester County Prison is invested in Biblically counseling the inmates. I strive to have them become aware of the healing touch of Jesus Christ that can reach the inner most pain in their heart which usually stems from not forgiving or not being forgiven.  The forgiveness of Jesus is able to then break down the carved stone that bears the message of despair into tiny grains of sand that can be blown away by the gentle breeze of the Holy Spirit. [1John 1:9] The past identity of the inmate also gets removed from the carved stone by realizing that they are new creatures in Christ. [2Cor. 5:17] How willing are we the people to write the past crimes and discretions in the sand of those whom had paid their debt to society and to carve, we forgive you in the stone?

In the service of Jesus, Chaplain Peter

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Treasurer Update, November 2016 – Roy Fite

Greetings! I want to thank the many faithful who have graciously supported Onesimus over the last Thirty-Seven years.  I ask for you to pray that more individuals and congregations are made aware of our mission to ensure that the men and women of Chester County Prison have access to counseling and encouragement through the Gospel.  Meeting our financial commitment to Chaplains Peter & Lil continues to be a challenge this year.  Please consider sharing this issue of Jottings with someone as well as making plans to attend our Annual Spring Banquet on April 7th, 2017 at Mt. Vernon Christian Fellowship.  The Spring Banquet is a great opportunity to hear powerful and moving testimonies of those who have been served by this ministry.  Heb. 10:24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Praise to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, your gifts and prayers provide just such encouragement through our Chaplains at CCP!

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