"An Inside Perspective"

April 2008

My dear family in Christ,

Ever-precious greetings in the name of our LORD Jesus Christ! By the grace of God, the Lord has provided for me every single day of my incarceration. When I was arrested, I was thirty-four years old. I was at the end of a wicked, sinful lifestyle, full of alcohol and drugs. I had selfishly taken the life of an innocent person, thus devastating that family with unimaginable grief and horror. In the process, I had also alienated and destroyed my own family, causing them unthinkable shame and anguish.

During the course of my sinful addiction, I was brought to the end of myself. I was like Nebuchadnezzar. He was highly blessed and favored in his kingdom, but he would not acknowledge that, "the Most High ruled" in the kingdom of men. He thought that everything he had was a result of his own effort. He did not yet understand that it is the Lord that lifts men up and brings them down. Therefore, he was humbled by God, losing his Kingdom. God drove him from men and he ate grass. His nails became as bird claws and his hair like eagle feathers. Finally, by grace alone he acknowledged that, "the Most High ruled" in the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar. The Lord then saved and restored him.

I also was very blessed in life. I proudly assumed it was all of my own effort. Christians came to me in droves but I thought all was well. I simply would not acknowledge that "the Most High ruled" in the kingdom of Philip. Accordingly, I too was humbled, losing everything. God "drove me from men" and I ate grass. I became homeless on the streets of Atlantic City. I begged people for change in front of the liquor store at seven A.M. as my whole body shook violently from withdrawals. My nails became as bird claws and my hair as eagle feathers. Finally, by grace alone, I acknowledged that the Most High ruled in the Kingdom of Philip. The Lord then saved and restored me.

During the course of all that, and including my seventeen years in prison, my sister Kevy never left my side. We were always very close and she refused to give up on me. I remember once how her young children found me balled up under a porch unrecognizably filthy and drunk. They brought Kevy to me. I will never forget how she carried me to her home, showering and shaving me while weeping over my condition. I was lost.

Sadly, six months later I was in prison with thirty years hanging over my head. Still, Kevy was there and she began to provide for me financially. Her monthly help was the difference between me living in poverty in prison and being comfortable. After about ten years, I began to notice that the money she sent only went about half as far as it used to. I needed a cost of living increase but I was ashamed to ask her. I knew her help was all grace and I deserved none of it. I went another few years and finally asked her, simply on the strength of our relationship. If I had not asked her, she would probably never have thought about it. Her heart was always towards me but she needed to be made aware of my situation.

I share all that to share this: I believe, that more than anyone, I really understand how deeply this ministry affects the lives of prisoners. First of all, because I am one. Secondly, I am directly involved in the lives of so many that have been blessed by your support. I know that it is Debbie's hand that is extended to us but it is your prayer and financial support that undergirds her labor. I witness her non-stop service in all she does. I tell her to slow down but she is tireless in her commitment to the Lord and this ministry. All the while, she lives on as shoe-string and a prayer.

I happen to know that her financial support has been falling off a bit. Also, like my sister Kevy with me, some of you have never left Debbie's side. Most of her supporters are radically faithful. Others make verbal commitments but never follow through. Still others make monthly commitments, and then send randomly, if at all. It is hard to live on a shoe-string budget like that. I know that your heart is toward her so I wanted to make you aware of her situation. She has already told me, "Philip, I will get a job if I have to and I will still do the ministry work as best I can."

Is it possible that you have supported Debbie for years with the same amount you started with? Have you ever considered a cost of living adjustment for her? Does what you give only go half as far for her as it used to? Please do not misunderstand. I know that she is very grateful to the Lord for all of you. The Lord has used you to carry this ministry for all these years.

In love, I am making this need known. I am asking that you would prayerfully re-evaluate your commitment as the Lord leads. Also, I am sure I will be in the dog-house after writing this, so pray for me!! (smile) But it was Jesus who said . . .

"The Labourer is Worthy of His (her) Wages."

Joyfully in Jesus,