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NEWSLETTER VOL. 1 No 1.
"In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed" Exodus 15:13
When I falter in my faith, remind me to look up and reach out for your guiding hand. When I hesitate to take the next step, give me a gentle nudge to get me going. When I stop along the way, uncertain as to which road to take, teach me to wait until I clearly hear your firm, sure word of direction. When shadows fall across my path and barriers block my journey, lead me by the light of your love on a steadfast way to your peace.
Justin L. Martin
N PRISON, there are two types of people. Those who go in and out of prison, and those who go to prison, change their lives and get out, never to return. The change I am speaking of is the work of he Lord in a criminal's heart. Not all the men and women who come to prison change their lives. In fact, a very small percentage of the men and women here, even among those who attend church services in prison, will be blessed by the word of God. Those who are blessed will get out and share their testimony of how the Lord worked His wonders on a "HARDENDED CRIMINAL". I, and many of my brothers in Christ feel the need to get out of prison and help our children and others by sharing with them the hardships a criminal faces in prison...what going to prison does to their families, their friends and themselves.
We live in a time where our children are being subjected to violence on television, video games and music on a day to day basis. The influence is so prevalent that the children are taking the lives of their friends, family and ultimately, themselves. Even the hardest criminals in prison in prison are overwhelmed with constant confusion and sadness that so many young innocent lives are being destroyed by these influences orchestrated by the power of Satan. This is why the men and women that come through prison and accept the Lord into their hearts wish to share the experiences, temptations and influences they were once plagued with, so others who haven't yet, hopefully never will destroy their lives by giving in to the deeds of Satan.
As I said before, some men and women come to prison only to be released and go immediately back into the path which brought them to prison in the first place. Then there are others who have accepted the Lord into their hearts and have asked Him for help in changing their lives. These men and women get out and lead productive Christian lives for the Lord, their family and freinds. For these men and women you can see an immediate, genuine transformation when the Lord enters their lives.
One man who made the biggest impact on me is my best freind, William B, or Buddy, as his friends called him Buddy is a man in a place that is filled with hate, who had a heart filled with hate, and was changed after he accepted the Lord into his heart. Buddy was given the courage to show his new self to others. He walks tall and stands proud in his newly acquired faith. Buddy has helped me to see a clear path through all of the problems prison has to offer a young man like myself on a day to day basis. That path is through the word of God.
Buddy once told me the way his life was progressing before he came to prison. It's a shame it took coming to prison to change his life around, but as we all know, "THE LORD WORKS IN MYSTERIOUS WAYS''. The Lord has worked His miracles on Buddy. All you see now is a loving caring man for the Lord, his family and friends. For him to reach out and pull me away from the troubles inside prison is a sign of his true love for his brother in Christ.
Buddy and I have been moved to different prisons, but before I was moved I was fortunate enough to be introduced to his beautiful family. Meeting his family has been a blessing to me because the memory of that meeting offeres encouragement to help me make it through prison. When you see a man break down and cry like a child after he has been made aware of how his life has been, and then accept the Lord into his heart, its shows you just how powerful the Lord truly is.
Here's an example of how the Lord comes to those who ask for his help. A while ago I was in need of someone to help me through the trials of prison. I prayed that the Lord would show me a way out of the feelings that engulfed me. One day I received a letter from a family who I believe was sent to me by the Lord. They and their children have been such a blessing to me, they gave me strength, and told me to keep my faith in the Lord and pray to him when I need help. I was given truly wonderful friends and a family in Christ for life. This was because the Lord guided them to help me in keeping my trust in Him and to realize that my being here is part of the Lord's plan for me.
The purpose of this newsletter is to share with you how the Lord works through all of his children, even those in prison. Since I accepted the Lord into my heart, I feel that it is my responsibility to use my life and past experiences as a tool for helping others. The Lord has helped me through some very tough situations in prison. By publishing this newsletter, the Lord has given me something to do that is productive and occupies my time to keep me out of " the mix" in prison. I want to inspire anyone who reads this, young or old, to stay away from all the temptations, and to let the Lord work through them. I'd like to thank my family for all their love and support they have given to me. I'd feel lost if it wasn't for their encouragement. They have given me hope, and the ability to discover what I was put in prison for.
My parents, Dave and Barbera, have taught me so many things in life, one of those is the ability to learn from my mistakes. The mistake I made was not listening to them. I used poor judgement, and hung out with the wrong people, which in turn caused me to be where I am today. A friend once told me, "If you hang out with people who cause trouble, you will eventually become the cause of trouble." Now I know exactly what she meant.
I am 22 years old now. Before I was arrested I went to Apollo High School in Glendale. I was on the varsity wrestling team and played football. My dad is a Pop Warner Football coach, and I became an assistant coach with him, and I had a blast watching those young kids become excited showing their talent and by helping them become better athletes. I worked at Bally's U. S. Swim and Fitness as a trainer and aspired to become a photographer. I had a great future ahead of me , but because I was stubborn, I didn't listen to my parents or God. Now I am being taught to listen in the only place I will learn, prison. Don't be stubborn, listen now, prison is not the place to find yourself. Far too many "stubborn" people lose their "self" permanently here.
These poems are from inmates who wrote them to their families and loved ones, or they describe how they are feeling inside.
Distance takes us far apart, and darkness my day.
I have to keep remembering, your just a thought away.
When the world is too confusing, times are hard to bear,
I'll pull your precious meaning, your bright spirit from the air.
If I sometimes drift into a lonely state of mind,
I gather up the memories of the days we left behind.
And though you're not beside me, I can tap into my heart.
And draw upon the warmth and love that lives when we're apart.
And with these fond reflections on the times when you were near.
I sense a little bit of what it's like to have you here.
A meeting was held in the chambers above, and the Lord considered a plan,
To send down an angel from heaven above to a very lonely man,
The angels rejoiced and one bought a harp, as they all proceeded to sing,
They were aware of the happiness she was likely to bring.
Now you are near and I cannot explain, the warmth that I feel inside,
With a comforting word and a beautiful smile, you will always stand by my side.
So now I must write a letter of thanks, thanking the Lord above,
For sending me such a beautiful angel, to care for, to cherish and love.
HILE enjoying my hour of fresh air and sunshine in the one man maximum security exercise pen, I noticed a young woman coming up the walk way. She was being escorted by a guard, and in her arms she held a small baby. I stepped up to the fence enclosing me, it had been some years since I had seen a baby, so I wanted to be as close as possible when they passed. Before long, the four of us were in even sight of each other, except the young mother was holding her baby on the far side. She glanced at me cautiously, then quickly straightened her head again. The guard had probably warned her not to speak to any of the prisoners. To my delight though, she shifted the baby so that she now faced in my direction.
I walked the length of my pen, watching the baby, her little head resting on her mother's arm, those big inquisitive eyes aimed at me. At first I thought it was the glitter of the surrounding razor wire that had attracted her attention, but then her head bounced off her mother's arm and she gave me a giant toothless smile, melting my heart. Not being able to resist, I took a chance and softly said, "Hi baby, Hi." The guard didn't seem to hear but the baby sure did. She giggled and goo-gooed back. Too soon came the end of the exercise pen. My enclosure prevented me from walking any further. I stood there, hands grasping the fence, and watched as the baby stretched and strained her small head around her mother's arm so as to keep me in sight. Her head was bobbing around, and she was still casting that big bright smile. The guard directed the mother into the visiting waiting room. My little friend was carried away, but not until she swung her arms awkwardly and belted out a loud scream...I guess to say goodbye.
For moments afterwards I remained standing where the baby had left me. My hands magnetized to my fence. I was soaking in the warmth of the mighty blessing I had received. The purity of innocence that shone from that baby's pudgy face was a sparkling reflection of innocence.
God's "little ones" are so very precious. They overflow with unconditional love. We can learn from a baby's unstained face. A face that would rather form a smile than a judgement.
JUSTIN L. MARTIN
ARIZONA STATE PRISON
JULY 28, 1999
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