During Covid-19, prisoners were left isolated due to the restrictions of no visitors. And with covid-19 spreading through prison systems, some were left fearful of death. A prison chaplain requested a group of volunteers to write to his prisoners for the month of September to help cheer them up. We chose to write them September through December and hoped our four letters would bring some cheer to the end of 2020.
I’m sharing these 4 Letters to Prisoners in hopes it will inspire you to write to a lonely neighbor, a friend in the hospital, an inmate, a cousin in need of cheer; the list is endless. Pray and ask the Lord who needs a note of cheer today and take a minute to send them a letter to brighten their mailboxes and their lives.
May these letters draw you near to the heart of God, and may we release a prayer for others in difficult circumstances and in need of the Savior’s love.
Choices – Letter #1
The Lord brought you to mind this morning. Oh, how He loves you!
Psalm 17:8 can be our prayer, “Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings.”
Thank you, Lord, for hearing the cry of our hearts today. Thank you for bringing us out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay. Thank you for setting our feet upon a rock (Jesus) making our footsteps firm. You, O Lord, put a new song in our mouths, a song of praise to You! (Psalm 40:1-3)
It is such a comfort to run to Jesus! Even when walking through a valley, we do not have to fear – for He is with us. We can declare, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trust in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart rejoices, and with my song I will thank Him.” (Psalm 28:7)
I believe the Lord wants to reassure you of His great love for you. Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrated His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
I’ve heard it said that we all serve someone. We serve ourselves or others. We choose death or we choose life.
No matter what we chose yesterday, today is a new day. God’s mercies are new every morning.
God wants us to be free. Romans 6:14-18 says, “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!
Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became servants of righteousness.”
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a slave.
I don’t want to be ruled over — by sin and lust and greed and selfishness.
I choose to be a servant of God who is the kindest, most loving person in the universe.
Don’t like where you have been or where you are now? There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and of death. (Romans 8:1-2)
Want a new master? For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15)
Thank you, God, that our past does NOT define us – for you say if we confess our sins, you are faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
You say, “How blessed is the one whose sins are forgiven, whose sin is covered! How blessed is the one to whom the Lord does not assign sin, and in whose spirit there is no deceit! Thank you for instructing us and teaching us how to walk. Thank you for giving us Your counsel and watching over us. Thank you for giving us hope through Your loving-kindness which has been extended toward us. Thank you for hiding us in the secret place of Your presence and sheltering us from the strife of tongues. (Psalm 32:1-2, 8; 33:8; 31:20)
Thank you that when we come to you, you receive us. You welcome us with open arms of love. We choose to respond to Your love today. We choose to renounce being slaves of sin. We choose to serve You. We say yes to You, O Lord.
These are the words I was led to write today. I pray His Word is a comfort to you. My prayer is that you would know how high, how wide and how deep HIS GREAT LOVE is for you today.
Invitation for Freedom – Letter #2
Fall is in the air! There is a crispness in the morning and in the evenings now. Fall always makes me reflective.
What does it mean to be free? I’ve been pondering this question lately. People can be free on the outside – no chains, no bars, and no hindrances; yet, they are bound up on the inside. People can be bound on the outside – chains, bars, hindrances; yet, free on the inside. So what makes us free?
Webster’s 1828 dictionary says freedom is not being controlled by another; liberty; exemption from constraint or confinement. Freedom is personal, civil, political and religious. Freedom of the will. [See Liberty]
Webster’s 1828 dictionary says liberty is freedom from restraint and applicable to the body, or to the will or mind. Civil liberty is the liberty of men in as state of society, or natural liberty so far restrained, as is necessary and expedient for the safety and interest of the society, state or nation. Civil liberty restrains every man from injuring another. Political liberty refers to the liberty of a nation, the freedom of a nation or state from unjust rights and independence by another nation. Religious liberty is the free right of adopting and enjoying opinions on religious subjects, and of worshiping the Supreme Being.
This is so interesting! We all have the right for many different types of freedom – until it encroaches on another person’s or nation’s freedom. The Declaration of Independence states that people “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Even if we lose our freedom in some form, we can still be free internally. God’s answer to our loss of freedom has always been Jesus Christ. Jesus came to proclaim liberty to the captives [internally] and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Isaiah 61)
Jesus came to free us from sin, death and anything and everything that enslaves us.
We sin which brings forth death. “For the wages of sin is death…
BUT the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
We can know the Truth [Jesus! Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life!] and the Truth will set us free. (John 8:36; 14:6)
In Christ, we are no longer slaves to sin. We may battle sin and the sin nature, but when He makes us new creations, He gives us His Holy Spirit which empowers us to live free from sin. We can experience freedom internally! We can live in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
“For we were called to freedom. Only let us NOT use our freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through LOVE serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13)
I believe the ultimate freedom is the freedom to choose Christ.
And in Christ’s freedom, we can choose to love and serve others.
Free will is a powerful thing. It is our choice; our determination; our discretion; our pleasure; our desire; our intention. We can set our mind, our will, our emotions on our fleshly desires and immediate gratification or we can set our mind, our will, and our emotions on the Eternal One, who was, and who is, and who is to come.
When we determine or choose Him over ourselves, we find true freedom, and a true joy. There’s a deep satisfaction and true contentment; a real internal freedom and deep liberty in Jesus Christ which cannot be found anywhere else. Thanks for letting me share my recent reflections on freedom, liberty and Christ.
Blessings of Peace,
Cheer – Letter #3
Thinking of you during this season of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a time of gratitude, expressing appreciation to the God of the universe who created us in His image that we might glorify His Name here on earth. Remembering His love poured out for us on the Cross is a very humbling, yet comforting thought. Oh how He loves us!
Love and Liberty – Letter #4
Thinking of you during this Christmas season.
I’m so thankful for the babe in the manger, but even more thankful for the man He grew up to be – because He lived a life of love and service towards all men – men, women, children – red, yellow, black, white. He lived, died and rose again that we might fully experience His love, His light, and His liberty.
Liberty is such an interesting word. We understand physical liberty of movement, but do we understand liberty of the heart, soul and spirit? Webster’s 1828 Dictionary says, “Religious liberty, is the free right of adopting and enjoying opinions on religious subjects, and of worshiping the Supreme Being according to the dictates of conscience, without external control.” That means we choose HIM with our own free will. There’s no compulsion or making us do it. We choose Him. I think He delights in us choosing Him.
He loves so freely, yet He never makes us respond to His love. He allows us a choice. We can say, “Yes, I receive Your love today – no matter how unworthy of it I feel. I receive Your love today.” Or we can say, “No, I’m not interested. No thanks.”
And He respectfully allows us to go our own way, in our own strength, in our own rights – though it saddens Him because He knows that pathway is a lonely one, full of sorrow and pain. Saying yes doesn’t mean we won’t have pain or sorrow, but it does mean we will never be alone – for He promises to always be with us. And His eyes roam to and fro throughout all the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. (2 Chronicles 16:9)
I hope this Christmas season, you will turn your heart towards the God of the universe, who lived and died that we might experience freedom and love in our innermost being. And peace! Wonderful, beautiful peace that passes all understanding from the Prince of Peace Himself! That is my hope for you this Christmas season – to find the Loving Savior, the Prince of Peace. And if you already know Him, my prayer is for a deepening of your relationship with Him who sticks closer than a brother. (Philippians 4:7; Isaiah 9:6; Proverbs 18:24)
Psalm 34 comes to mind, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul will make its boast in the Lord; the humble will hear it and rejoice. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together. I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces will never be ashamed.”
“This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them. O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”
“O fear the Lord, you His saints; for to those who fear Him there is no want. The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; but they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing. Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.”
Who is the man who desires life and loves length of days that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and His ears are open to their cry. The face of the Lord is against evildoers, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.”
“The righteous cry, and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones, not one of them is broken. Evil shall slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. The Lord redeems the soul of His servants, and none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.”
I hope this Christmas Season, as you choose to reflect on His Great Love for you, that you will find peace.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you!
“Writing to someone in prison is a special gift…for the one who is incarcerated. So many people in prison…have little or no contact with people on the outside, so receiving a personal letter is something to treasure.”
“Because letters are so special (and often rare), it’s important that from the outset you let your correspondent know your intentions. If you want to strike up an ongoing correspondence, let them know that (and stick to it!). If you just want to send a one-off note of support, make that clear so you don’t raise expectations – you could include something like ‘No need to respond, I just wanted to let you know I’m thinking of you.’” [Sister Helen]
Basic Rules for Writing Prisoners
“An inmate is any individual incarcerated in any local, state, or federal correctional institution, to include juveniles incarcerated in Texas Youth Commission (TYC) facilities.” [FAQ – TX]
If you desire to write a one-time letter to your local jail or if you desire to become a long-term pen pal with an inmate, be sure and know your state rules. Here is some information for writing Texas prisoners.
Texas state and private prisons, jails, and correctional facilities:
- Accept mail delivered only through authorized channels
- Inspect all incoming and outgoing letters
- Include the inmate legal first and last name and their TDCJ number
- Include their unit name and address
- Write on white paper
- Your letter can be any length
- No greeting cards of any kind [How to Send]
Please consider your safety. Please DO NOT share any personal information about yourself or others. You will need to correspond through approved channels and on approved stationary. Be loving, but be wise.
Isaiah spoke of Jesus, but I believe it applies to all of us who know Jesus, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners.”
And Isaiah continues, “To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:1-3 NASB)
Prisoners already know their wrong, but do they have a future and a hope? Let’s give them the hope that has no chains and no bars, the hope of Christ Jesus who was and who is and who is to come.
If you would like to be more active in prison ministry, then consider Prison Fellowship which desires to “see incarcerated people break free from their spiritual prisons and embrace a life of renewal and restoration” from a biblical world viewpoint.
I visited a local prison with Prison Fellowship while in college. I discovered it was not a good fit for me, but others found it to be an ideal volunteer opportunity. If you would like to know more about meeting prisoners face-to-face to encourage them or to minister to prisoner’s family, you can find out more information through their website: https://www.prisonfellowship.org/
I hope these 4 Letters to Prisoners will inspire you to write a note of cheer to someone today.
Write Someone Today:
Take a minute to send someone a letter of encouragement which will brighten their lives.
May the “Lord bless you, and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine on you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26 NASB)
If you would like practical steps to overcome fear, read Lisa’s article, To Fear or Not to Fear: Man or God? – Strength with Dignity
Frequently Asked Questions – Correspondence Rules – Texas. Retrieved April 17, 2021 from https://www.tdcj.texas.gov/faq/offender_correspondence.html
How to Send a Texas Department of Criminal Justice Inmate Mail. Retrieved April 17, 2021 from https://donotpay.com/learn/tdcj-inmate-mail/
Prison Fellowship information can be found here: https://www.prisonfellowship.org/
New American Standard Bible, Copyright 1960, 1971, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Retrieved April 17, 2021 from New American Standard Bible (NASB) – Version Information – BibleGateway.com
Writing to a Person in Prison accessed April 17, 2021 from https://www.sisterhelen.org/writing-to-someone-in-prison/