From the Treasurer, March 2016 – Roy Fite

Greetings Brothers and Sisters in Christ! Financially, 2015 was an improvement over the previous year when contributions were $6,000 less than our budget. Contributions were $2,000 short of budget this past year. Praise be to God, we were able to fulfill our commitment of support to Chaplains Peter & Lil both years.   The items in our budget that we have had to forgo are Bible purchases and continuing education for our chaplains. Once again for 2016 Chaplain Support represents 97% of our total budget. We ask for your prayers that our efforts to find Church partners to help ensure that we meet our financial commitments to Peter & Lil, as well as, the ministry to the men and women of CCP is fruitful. We thank you for your continued generosity towards this ministry striving to shine a Light into a dark place. 2 Peter 1:2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

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Prison Fellowship Update – Jim Kreider

We continue to hold a separate Chapel Service each Monday night for Medium Security and Minimum Security.  I am very grateful for volunteers who share God’s life, light and love in these services. We take turns giving the Gospel message to the inmates.

It was unusual to have our service canceled January 25, the Monday night after the blizzard.

We are very grateful for the privilege of serving the Lord in this way at CCP.

 

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The Opera Ain’t Over ’til the Fat Lady Sings – Dan Turley

The title is a quip often heard when one wants to deliver the message that there is still more to come.  For us in prison ministry, the fat lady never sings.  We will rarely see the end result of our efforts to share the light of the gospel in the darkness of Chester County Prison, nor should we expect to.  We are not in charge of the results.  That is God’s domain.  We are only in charge of effort.  Over the last 21 years, I have bumped into men on the “outside” who attended our Monday night ministry while they were inmates at the prison and a few of them have told me how much the ministry meant to them at such a low point in their lives.  That’s good to hear, but the blessing for us comes from the belief that we are somehow being used in God’s plan of salvation.

Dan Turley, Volunteer

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Whiter Than Snow, Yes, Whiter Than Snow – Vernon Myers

Enough of the white stuff.” Really!? I always like “one big snow” but also realize I don’t “have to” get out in the snow as some must do. A big snow is not a lot of extra work for me compared to the dairymen who need to plow open driveways for the milk trucks. Emergency and medical personnel need to be on the job. Business places need parking areas for their customers and employees. Road crews work long hours to keep the roads open and safe as possible in bad weather. Nevertheless, I am a “helpless romantic” who likes at least “one big snow.”

Maybe 24-30 inches of the “white stuff” at the beginning of February was enough for one winter. I shoveled our driveway out the “old fashioned way”—one shovel-full at a time. Sunday morning after the storm, we could not go anywhere; no option but to dig out. My heart turned to worship as I looked across the beauty of the snow-covered landscape. But now that “the big one” is over, we can move on to spring. Know what? I like spring even better than snow!

The Bible talks quite a bit about snow. I did a Gateway Bible search using “snow” as the reference word. I found some very instructive references to snow—references which should cause us to look carefully at the “attitude of our hearts” and the “content of our character.”   For example—Proverbs 26:1-2: “Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, honor is not fitting for a fool. Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse does not come to rest.” Or Proverbs 25:13—this verse reminds us of “the blessing” a good, reliable employee is to his/her employer. “Like a snow-cooled drink at harvest time is a trustworthy messenger to the one who sends him; he refreshes the spirit of his master.”

Of even more significance are the references to “the white stuff” as it compares to the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. King David, when in repentance from his tragic sins of adultery and murder, cried out with a broken heart in Psalm 57:1–“Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” The good news of the gospel of Christ is that God does cleanse a broken, wounded, sinful heart. My friend, Doug Burnette who began Onesimus Ministries in 1978, experienced “a clean heart.” He had a difficult childhood and found himself in deep trouble, sitting in a cell at CCP. Doug regularly attended the chapel services comparing what “one preacher” said on Tuesday with what “another preacher” said on Saturday. Thank God the two agreed with each other and said the same thing, thus offering him hope. One of the preachers said, “Doug, you don’t have to live like that.” God offers you forgiveness and grace to begin anew with a clean heart. Sounds like the Scripture in Isaiah 1:18 — “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” From childhood on up, Doug said he was plagued by nightmares and had difficulty sleeping. But the night after he finally gave up his own willful rebellion and surrendered his heart to the cleansing grace of Jesus, he awoke the next morning realizing he slept like a newborn baby. In a spiritual sense, Doug was just that—a newborn baby in Christ. The Scripture says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.   II Corinthians 5:17-21.

Thank God the “word of the Lord” took root in Doug’s repentant heart and is bearing fruit even now. How I thank God for Doug and his wife, Pat!

One more reference to snow in Isaiah 55:10, 11 says, “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Good things are yet to come!

There is a wonderful gospel song I enjoy, “Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole; I want thee forever to live in my soul. Break down every idol, cast out every foe. Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow. Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.” Lord, make our hearts whiter than snow!

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Let It Go!!! It’s Not Your Department – Chaplain Lil

Let It Go!!! It’s not your department.”

This is the lesson the Lord has been teaching me…again.  You see, I’m a natural worrier and perfectionist. I want everything done ahead of time. I want everyone to be happy. I want things done right.  In other words, I want things done my way and in my time.

But my worrying and perfectionism brings me stress and hurt because seldom is it going to happen.  Whether I try to ensure things are right in my kids’ lives, or with my job, I strive and get frustrated when things do not turn out that way.  But God is teaching me many things and I am learning that my attitude could be selfish by taking responsibilities that don’t belong to me, and I do not trust the Lord.
When the virgin Mary engaged to be married to Joseph, was told by the angel she was pregnant, she was afraid at first. After questioning the angel’s message, she said she would trust God, even though she knew this would likely be seen as a scandal and possibly bring shame to her, her family and her beloved, Joseph. Instead of wondering about the “what ifs,” she trusted God and said, I’m okay with however this turns out.  Help me Lord, to let it go. I can’t control how others feel about me or what they think; I don’t need everything to go my way.  I need to go Your Way.  I do not need to fix everybody else’s problems, because doing so does nothing to help that person learn, grow and trust you.

On the other hand, trusting God that “everything will work out” does not release me from helping others as the Lord leads.  No, I still want to be very sensitive to the Spirit’s leading. But Lord, help me to remember, I am not take on things that do not belong to me.

“Let It Go!!! It’s not my department.

I wish to thank everyone for your continued support along with your prayers.

May God Bless You
Chaplain Lillian Anthony

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Old vs. New Wineskins – Chaplain Peter

Usually fellowship sessions in the prison are devoted to learning of the saving grace of Jesus Christ and how to apply the truths of the Bible for an effective change of life. The inmates have been diligent in their attendance of Chapel and have shown that they have a thirst for the knowledge available through our Lord Jesus Christ. Lately I have been challenging the inmates with a question I feel is important for us all to contemplate. “What do you believe?”

The inmates have been hearing the Word of God regularly and have also taken to studying on the blocks about a living and loving God as well as attending a class called “Behold Your God” in the chapel. This has been a strong reinforcement that they are truly new creatures or “new wine skins” if you would [Matthew 9:17]. I have been moved of the Spirit to address this pertinent issue of what they believe, now that they have been exposed to an alternative to sin. Too many have believed what others have said about them in the past. Comments such as, “you will never amount to anything”, or “you will never change your ways,” have locked many a man into a false belief about themselves and their position before God [an old worn out wine skin]. It is time for the inmates not only to read about becoming a “new creation in Christ, no longer who they were but made new” (2Cor. 5:17), but to believe it is true. As “new wine skins” the inmates are in much less danger of bursting upon re-entry to society. The truth of God’s Word is fleshed out in their daily lives. They must “believe and not doubt” (James 1:6) that the changes made in their hearts are determined by the author of our lives, not by other people. These changes are developed by the Holy Spirit to be a daily effectual development of their character in Christ. I believe that we could all benefit by trading many of our preconceived notions and beliefs about ourselves as “old wine skins” for the “new and improved wine skins” created by Jesus Himself. God does not make junk! All of us inside and out are precious and beautiful creations of the Living Lord.

Blessings,

Chaplain Peter

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How You Can Help – Phil Taylor

Three years ago, OMI volunteer and board member Rick Chiavetta enabled our ministry to enter the 21st Century with the creation of our website, www.OnesimusMinistries.org (and he’s graciously paid the renewal fees for the site). Now we’re attempting to be more proactive in reaching out to churches in the county with the compilation of a database of contacts at these churches.

Too often once an inmate leaves CCP – even those who’ve fully availed themselves of the extensive spiritual opportunities there – they sadly become the embodiment of Proverbs 26:11(NIV) “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.” Left to their own devices, by returning to the very neighborhoods that fostered the behaviors that landed them in jail, it’s too often just a matter of time until they end up back in CCP. Sadly, in many cases, that same vicious cycle gets repeated time and time again.

By fostering an ongoing electronic dialog with the churches, it’s hoped that more and more churches will become involved with this ministry. We’ll always have a dire need for prayer partners to intercede for the intentions of the men and women incarcerated at CCP.

The churches would also be a great source for potential volunteers, a possible church home to provide love and accountability to ex-inmates upon their release, and to help share financial burdens periodically for a faith-based ministry entirely dependent upon the generosity of those God inspires to give.

Currently just 13 (less than 5%) of the almost 300 churches in Chester County have come alongside Onesimus with their Time, Talents and Treasure in growing disciples from the fertile field that is CCP.

Please e-mail us at outreach@OnesimusMinistries.org with any way that you or your church might help in not only fulfilling The Great Commission at the prison, but to assist us with Paul’s ongoing charge “to be able to present each one to God, perfect because of what Christ has done for each of them.” Colossians 1:28 (NLT)

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From the Treasurer, November 2015 – Roy Fite

Greetings! I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Chaplains Peter & Lil as well as all who faithfully support them, for their commitment to bring the Good News of the Gospel to the Men and Women of Chester County Prison. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:19 and 23 “Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. … I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”

We are in need of your financial support; I pray that you, too, may share in the Blessings of Christ through this much needed ministry.

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Prison Fellowship – Jim Kreider

As I write this article, Thanksgiving is about a month away. By that date we will have completed 37 years of Prison Fellowship meetings in Chester County Prison.

As I look back over the years I am very grateful that God has supplied volunteers for the weekly chapel meetings. Also I am very thankful that CCP Administration has given us the opportunity to serve.

Challenging inmates to let God change their lives continues to be our reason for weekly ministry at CCP.

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November 2015 Jottings – Chaplain Lil

Have you ever found yourself in the midst of Challenges within your life, or in your family, or work? Challenges are very familiar to God. We are immersed in challenges in our daily lives. When knocking on the door for Christ we may continue to have doubt. We hope He will touch the hearts of the lost.
As a prison chaplain for well over 24 years, there have been many challenges in working with the women at Chester County Prison. I believe that God has seen me through those challenges. It has been a growing experience for me. I also believe in allowing God to do his work through me. I reflect on the verse in Revelation 3:20 NIV. “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person”. He has continued to equip me each week to teach the women through their own doubts; praying Christ will touch their hearts and that they will relinquish control to allow God to work in them.
In 2 Timothy 4:5-8 Paul tells us to endure suffering, “endure” being the key word. Regularly teaching on this is helpful on how to endure the challenges of life and where our ability to endure comes from. “Endure” and “relinquish” have been two words that have been an eye opener to the women. Teaching them the Love of Christ, who suffered on the cross and took all of their guilt, even though it didn’t belong to Him.
I want to thank you all for you prayers and support for myself and Peter Roomet at Chester County Prison. During this season, and always, we are thankful to God for dedicated believers such as yourselves.
May God Continue to bless you all.

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