I now have a new mission congregation different than any I have EVER HAD! I have about 30 in my new congregation. I'll explain later. A lot of you know we have been missionaries in MX for over 3 decades now and have never taken a regular furlough, only being gone from the field for 3 - 4 months at a time being close to the U.S. Then, 2 years ago God decided to force a different type of rest for our family. Remember, different is often rest.
First, God allowed a real upset in our ministry. I will not say a TRAGEDY because with God, nothing is tragedy except in those that refuse Him. We were forced to get Beatriz and kids stateside for their safety and the kids education. I had to be here at that time to get them settled in and it was a time of rest for me, going back and forth to the field. Then another challenge came when Beatriz was diagnosed with cancer and was in Mexico for treatments, surgery, etc. It was then NECESSARY for me to be stateside. But, I could not just rest and sit on my hands and keep the kids in school and church. So, I attended churches and got involved in a Bible Study group where I met a director of a prison ministry connected with the Chuck Colson prison ministry. He was asking for Pen Pals for prisoners. Since I enjoy writing I thought it would be a way to pass time. LITTLE DID I KNOW what God was doing.
First I took a couple of names and read their letters BEGGING for someone to write them so I started writing them. Still there were scores of others waiting at times for months for a Pen Pal.. Soon I agreed to write to more. There were nights before my own surgery when I would have sleepless nights due to pain or, honestly, worry. I began to read the letters coming back to me. MY HEART WAS MOVED when I read the different wasted lives or of those sincerely reaching out for help.
Soon I had more and more and was more and more into counseling, giving the plan of salvation and encouraging their spiritual lives.
THEN, there were those prisoners that only speak Spanish so I was writing them also. I was dealing with a man ON DEATH ROW that has come to know Christ as his Savior and was asking how he can make his life count for God while awaiting his execution. NO ONE in his family is in contact with him for the shame. He never knew his father and his mother died when he was 7.He BEGGED me to NEVER desert him because I am his ONLY contact on the outside. He recently wrote and told me he now feels sorry for those on DEATH ROW SPIRITUALLY instead of those like him. He said his death would land him in the arms of Jesus. Death for the lost lands them in Hell.
Then, there is the man in "the hole" (in solitary) that told me he had received Christ as His Savior but was begging God to send SOMEONE into his life that could show him FROM THE BIBLE that God really could love someone like him. He was surprised when a guard brought him my letter telling him God loved him and giving Him Scriptures to read, etc Then, there is a pastor's son, raised in a Christian home and educated in Christian schools which has a life-time without parole sentence whose family had turned him over to God. (WAIT, before you judge his family. Be certain you've been there! I HAVE!)
For my last example there is the man from Guatemala who eventually made it to the U.S. illegally and became involved in crime and has now spent several months in prison with years to go and doesn't speak a word of English. His family doesn't even know he is still alive. He has NO ONE and feels God has left him. He said in Guatemala prisons are called cemeteries of the living dead. He asked what could I tell him to give him hope.
Okay, I can answer some of the questions in your mind. No, I don't know how many are sincere NOR do I know that in our churches. Are some just trying to use me? Sure! I've been used all my life. Do you know what terrible crimes they've committed to be there? NO, that's between them and the state. Are you going to try to get some out? Not my business. I have just become the ONLY pastor they have in this world. Am I really doing any good?
Well, let me tell you what happened recently -- I was asked to give a testimony at a meeting that was a prayer meeting OF PRISONER PEN PALS because I have the largest number of pals in the nation and have developed it into a "congregation". Although my congregation is scattered from New York to Florida to New Mexico to Texas, to Arizona to Idaho to Oregon to California we DO have a service. Every morning at 7a.m. Pacific coast time we ALL meet in the throne room of God in prayer. I could not tell you the testimonies of those that attend these meetings.
Well, after my testimony a big, tattooed. brawny man stood up and told us HE WAS THE RESULT OF A PEN PAL! Thru a pen pal he was saved in prison and turned his life around so much so he got an early released and had convinced his wife to give him another chance. Now they are a Christian family actively serving in a local church and writing THEIR pen pals.
I am eagerly awaiting the day soon when the doctors and therapists release me to return to my ministry in Mexico; but, I can assure you I will not leave my Prison Congregation without a pastor. While you click on the news or whatever you do when you can't sleep I know you won't criticize me for writing to my prisoners I need to be serving wherever and however GOD deems. I have had and AM HAVING a wonderful and bountiful life.
So, you that support the Kisers as missionaries just understand you are supporting a VERY varied ministry. Have to close now to e-mail a sermon outline and a Bible study to some of our Mexican workers and finish a couple of pen pal letters. Bro Don