A few years ago Nanci and I met Earl Smith, former death row chaplain at San Quentin State Prison and author of Death Row Chaplain: Unbelievable True Stories from America's Most Notorious Prison. He has his own story of redemption and a deep heart for men imprisoned in their souls. I have seen Earl two other times since first meeting him. This is a man who has had spiritual conversations with notorious criminals, including Charles Manson. (Earl is also chaplain for the San Francisco 49ers and one of the most trusted people in that organization.)
At a conference with professional football players, Earl told me, and at the time I didn’t know this, that our ministry has sent San Quentin lots of books. He said, to my delight, that they have made an incredible difference in the lives of prisoners, many of them on death row. Hearing it from him and seeing the tears in his eyes moved my heart deeply.
Almost all the credit is due to our staff member Sharon, who faithfully responds to the hundreds of requests and letters EPM receives each month, and also Dwight and Dan and others, who have packaged and sent the books. Only in eternity will we learn of the full impact of these books and letters.
Below is a report from our ministry showing how this outreach is continuing to expand and grow. —Randy Alcorn
Each month Eternal Perspective Ministries sends hundreds of Randy’s books to prison facilities across the U.S. Recent numbers show this outreach is growing! Just this past March, we received inmate requests from 12 new facilities in one week (the most we’ve ever received). And during one week alone, we had 180 book requests (normally we get 50 to 70)! The most recent commonly requested book is the coloring book and devotional Picturing Heaven. Here are our numbers from 2017:
And here are some recent letters we’ve received from prisoners:
“I just read your book Deadline. It was life altering. I have been a drug addict for 30 years and am 42 years old. A lot of my life I have spent guilt ridden because of my drug abuse. I have a 15-year-old daughter that I have been estranged from for 2 years now. It’s been a catch 22—I use drugs because I don’t have my daughter and I don’t have my daughter because I use drugs. It reminded me of Jake’s relationship with Carly. Your book gives me hope of a renewed relationship with my child. It also makes me look forward to a life after this life. I have a sense of peace now that I have never had before, and behind bars at that.” —Tammy
“I would first like to say how much your donations mean to the inmates I’ve met here. They have inspired us to look deeper into the Word and into ourselves; greatly nourishing the Holy Spirit and our creativity in the form of art and poetry. …I know your efforts have already expanded the kingdom of Heaven, making His word more accessible and more desired by those here who were ignorant.” —Elizabeth
“Randy Alcorn has been a spiritual mentor to me behind these walls along with many countless of men who have fought the good fight of faith and have followed in the footsteps of our Lord and Savior, in which we can imitate their faith (Hebrews 13:7).” —Rafael
“I would like to thank you for all that you do. I don’t believe I would have found God if it wasn’t for Eternal Perspective Ministries.” —Erica
It’s also encouraging to occasionally receive financial gifts from prisoners ranging from a few dollars to a $25.00 check we received several weeks ago for our “Books for Prisoners Project.” (And more than once we’ve received postage stamps from prisoners to help offset mailing costs!) These prisoners have limited resources, so for them to give so that others can receive books is deeply touching.
If you’d like to partner with us to help provide books to prisoners, you can donate online (choose “Books for Prisoners Project” under Special Funds and Projects). 100% of the donations to this fund will be used to finance the cost and shipping of the books and materials. Thank you for helping us make an eternal difference in the lives of prisoners, who are often a forgotten mission field.
“I was in prison and you visited me.” —Jesus, Matthew 25:36