Tuesday, August 21, 2007

June 2007 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

Below is the first of a quarterly newsletter that David has sent out to friends and family. Most of you should have received it.

1) If you did not receive it, and would like to (or know someone who would like to), please drop me an email with your mailing address.

2) In the near future, we're hoping to begin sending the newsletters out via email. If that is an option for you, please drop me an email your email address.

God bless,

Blog Maintainer


June 2007

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Grace and Peace to you from our Lord Jesus Christ.

Though I have been in communication with many of you these last two years while I have been in "chains for Christ" in Corcoran Prison, I wanted to be able to write to more of you more frequently. Therefore, I am going to send out a Chains for Christ ministry newsletter every two months or so. Of course I will continue to write individual and personal letters to you as well.

I want to thank all of you who have supported me during this most sorrowful and painful trial. You have blessed me over and over with your prayers, books, gifts, visits, and letters. I am so grateful. Without you, I could not continue to minister here at Corcoran Prison.

Looking back, I can see three purposes of the Lord for sending me here. First, as with all trials for a Christian, I am here to grow in Christ (Romans 8:29), to develop perseverance and character (James 1:2), and to mortify sin and pursue godliness (Hebrews 12:10-11). I see Him helping me become more sensitive to others' needs and to develop patience. Prison is a good place to learn patience. It usually takes weeks or months to get anything; daily routines and privileges are often canceled without warning; and we are subjected constantly to the verbal offenses of many unstable and unkind people. There is a great need for patience in prison. The Lord is "sanding" my rough places, "pruning" my branches of sin and helping me to learn contentment. But most importantly, He is working on my pride—to humble me. Pray for me. I can say with David, "It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn your statutes" (Psalm 119:71). Dear friends, as horrible as prison is, it is still a good thing. God is using it for my good and His glory, and I thank Him and praise Him for it.

Secondly, the Lord is drawing me very close to Himself in this awful trial. He has shown me His faithfulness in protecting me and providing all my needs. I've been in cells with killers, violent and unstable men, but the Lord has always placed a hedge of protection around me. One cell mate, who could have been very threatening, actually promised to protect me and then asked if I would tell him all about God! I cannot tell you have often I have cried out to God for comfort and grace and He has always ministered to my soul. I have lost family, career, possessions, and freedom, but this has left me running to my God—to know Him better and to completely lean on Him. Friends, if you should lose everything, you still have Christ, who is everything.

Thirdly, the Lord has mercifully allowed me to be used in His service here in jail to preach and teach the Word of God, to disciple believers and share the Gospel with the lost. When I first stepped into my cell at L.A. County, Benjamin, one of the six other prisoners in our cell said he was recently saved and had been on his knees every night praying for God to send him a Bible teacher! So I gladly discipled him for two hours a night for over four months. The Lord allowed me to preach nightly through my cell bars to 25 other cells. I became a trustee and walked up and down the rows of cells praying with men, encouraging them by singing hymns, or sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. Grace Church sent me over ten MacArthur Study Bibles and other books that I gladly distributed to the men.

At the Delano reception facility, I led a group of men through Revelation. I met Mario, who had just trusted Christ in prison. He was on fire for Christ! He had been involved in much crime in the San Fernando Valley and admitted even to stealing a car from the Grace parking lot! He studied Scripture daily until he was moved to another prison. I remember he would frequently tell me that if he were ever released he would look up all his friends in crime in the San Fernando Valley and exhort them to stop their sinful, unlawful lifestyles and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Friends, I want to share what God is doing in the lives of prisoners here at Corcoran:

Robert, age 35. Serving 23 years. Was in gangs and drugs since youth in the San Fernando area. A Christian for two years. Loves the Word. Reading Ryries' Basic Theology—faithful Bible student, gentle, kind—a totally changed person.

Tom, age 46. Has a life sentence, but full of joy in Christ. Loves to study the Word, ministers in choir and Bible memory ministry A real encourager to the brothers.

Tim, age 35. Has 15 years to life. Young in the Lord but zealous for sound doctrine. Has a ministry to the cults; defends the faith; has memorized all of I Timothy! Was an Olympic level gymnast and coach. Loves theology and John MacArthur.

Frank, age 42. Life in prison but a diligent student of the Word. Teaches and preaches; is studying biblical Hebrew. Powerful evangelist in the yard.

Don, age 65. Came to prison late in life. Was a pastor for 45 years. Preaches to the inmates in Chapel. Brings lots of vision and experience. Has a sweet disposition.

Stephen, age 22. A young believer. His life changed from rebellion, drugs and crime to obedience and sobriety in the Lord. A diligent student of the Word and Hebrew. Self-taught in music theory and classical guitar. Wants to attend Master's College and Seminary when he gets out.

Abel, age 35. Sentenced to 12 years. Has been a Christian for two years. Was in gangs and drugs. Now shares Christ to other former gang members with a humble, sweet spirit. Wants to go into ministry someday when he is released.

David, age 45. Has served 17 years with 10 more to serve. Excellent artist, singer and guitarist of Christian music. Very mature in the Lord. Produced a grammatical study of 1 Timothy, defining each Greek word.

These are just some of the inmates transformed by God's ongoing grace. To God be the glory, great things He has done! I will share more lives with you in future letters.

Let me mention briefly some other things the Lord is doing here and how you might pray.

1) I have been able to share the Gospel and the Word extensively for over a year to my Vietnamese friend, Mr. Vu. Pray for his salvation.

2) There are several cults in our yard that are drawing the lost into their heresies. They continually attack the doctrine of the Trinity and teach that Jesus is not God.

3) The men have ordered many books through Grace Bookstore, which has been very gracious to remove the hard covers. The men are growing spiritually through these materials.

4) The Lord has allowed me to play a donated violin in Chapel and to give classical music recitals. This is now expanding into a violin class I will be teaching soon. I need more opportunity to practice. Please pray.

5) Please pray for our correctional officers who don’t know Christ.

6) We've started a Scripture memory program in which many are involved.

7) There are inmates who want to pray for you. Please send me your prayer requests. Your addresses and last names will remain confidential.

8) We've started a Bible Institute where the men can get advanced Bible teaching. I am teaching Eschatology and plan to add other courses similar to those of Logos Bible Institute at Grace. Another man teaches FOF and other classes as well. I also work full time as a teacher's assistant and clerk for the GED class. I get the opportunity to tutor many men in math.

9) There is still a possibility that the federal courts would grant me a new trial.

10) My greatest sorrow is that I cannot be with my children and they cannot have their dad in this crucial time of their lives. Please keep them in your prayers.

Websites—A faithful friend is keeping two websites for me. Please visit them and feel free to leave comments, which will be sent to me. The addresses are: www.chainsforchrist.blogspot.com and www.myspace.com/chainsforchrist. My email address is: chains4christ@gmail.com. Keep in mind it could take up to eleven days to get back to you. You also can write me at:

David Gray
3C02-216 L
CSP Corcoran
PO Box 3471
Corcoran, CA 93212-3471

Dear friends, In the midst of my tribulation and pain, I want to encourage you. God is completely in control of all circumstances. You can trust Him. He is right now causing all things in your life to work together for your good, and His glory. He knows what is best for you and wants what is best for you and has the power to bring it about. You can trust Him. If you are going through painful trials right now, I know it must be very hard for you—difficult, sorrowful and perhaps discouraging. Remember that God is "the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation" (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). "Cast all your cares on Him for He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7)."

Please write me and send me your prayer requests. May the Grace of Our Lord be with you.

In Christ,

David Gray