Thursday, July 3, 2014

Frank is Free!!!

papemelroti's Peggy Lasa and her husband Charlie,
have been serving in the Ligaya ng Panginoon's
Quezon City Jail Ministry since 2009.
They met Frank Llagas there.
Read his story below.
Frank Llagas is free now, after being imprisoned
for being falsely accused of rape.
You can help Frank regain back his life
by donating damaged appliances that he can fix
and sell to build up capital to start his business.
You may donate small appliances like electric fans,
irons, rice cookers, and oven toasters
and bring them to any papemelroti branch.

If you would like to have appliances repaired,
you may call him at 09292493350 or 09232204030.

When he can, John Keating of the Servants of the Word  joins the Ligaya Ng Panginoon North Sector's Jail Ministry on their weekly visits to the QC jail.  On a visit, an inmate who was part of the worship team called his attention.  John with his fantastic memory recognized the inmate, Frank Llagas.  John met Frank on one of his visits to Payatas with Fr. Paul Uewemedimo.  Fr Paul helped Frank acquire a house and would at times live with them.

Frank told John he was falsely accused of raping a mentally handicapped girl.  At the onset, Frank was told the case would not be pursued if he paid a significant sum.  He may have looked like a good extortion target as he was doing quite well repairing appliances.  He did not concede and was soon sent to jail.  Soon after, a group approached him claiming they could work on his release if he advanced money for legal representation. Believing this legitimate, Frank sold his house to raise the funds. The group soon disappeared with the money.  

Frank and his family faced untold challenges that may not have happened had he not been imprisoned. Instead of being crushed, he clung more closely to God.  Frank was determined to remain joyful and would be a front-liner at the jail worship brimming with a smile.

John took an active interest in Frank's case and attended the court hearings when possible.  He was deeply disturbed when there were three successive deferments of the hearing.  Witnesses gave distorted testimonies and no one showed up for Frank's defense. The judge had to declare one last hearing date if the defense did not present a witness.  The outlook was very bleak.  John felt more had to be done. Boy Tambule, a freed inmate and whose own jail story is inspiring worked on tracking down a witness who could credibly testify to support the innocence of Frank.  This was evidently vital in the court's decision to free Frank early this June.   

What if John had not been coming to Payatas, or to the jail?  What if Fr. Paul had not reached out to the family of Frank in Payatas? What if Frank turned his back on the Lord and did not want to attend the jail ministry group?  What if there was no Boy Tambule to track down witnesses?  What if no one wanted to serve in the jail ministry?  The Lord's providence was there all along, the power of prayer and His blessing on the work of those who labor in the vineyard cannot be denied.  What's essential is that Frank knows that it was the Lord who saved him.  Since being freed, Frank together with Boy has been eager to join the jail ministry to share his faith and encourage his ex-fellow inmates.  

After losing five years to jail time, Frank now needs to rebuild his livelihood. He wants to resume working on appliance repair and needs help.  He repairs electric fans, washing machines, electric irons, electric stoves, rice cookers, dispensers, oven toasters, hot water pots, slow cookers, blenders etc.  If you have have any small appliance to donate or in need of repair please bring them to any papemelroti branch.

Donations of these appliances are particularly welcome since this will help Frank build up some capital, hopefully to put up an appliance repair outlet in the QC area.  If you wish to donate cash, that is also welcome.  Email or text us so we can let you know how to send your donations of either cash or in kind if you are unable to bring this to our drop off points.

If the message of Isaiah 58:6 speaks to you and you are interested to support the LNP NS Jail Ministry in some way, you may contact me. 

Pray too that the Lord sends more workers to the vineyard and that we all be faithful in responding to God's call. 

Patsy Paterno
(632) 9179183951)
patsy.paterno (at)

Isaiah 58:6-12

6“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousnessa will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
9Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
11The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
12Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Needed: Christmas Gifts for QC Jail Inmates

Hebrews 13:3
Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners... 

It's that time of the year again when we are able 
to share our blessings, and give joy to those forgotten 
by even their closest friends and family.

We are preparing a merienda party for 100 inmates, 
and gift bags for 300 inmates of QC Jail.  
Would you like to help us?

We need soap, shampoo, detergent, toothpaste, towels, 
canned sardines, soup packs,
crackers, and money to buy shorts at wholesale in Divisoria.

We just finished a Purpose Driven Life Seminar 
for 100 inmates. Talks and sharings were given 
by Charlie Lasa, Luigi Paterno,  Jun Cruz, Ruel Morales, 
Andy Juan, Danny Carreon, Ben Salvedia, Jim Orbe, 
JoeDean Sola, Edwin Ondoy, Conrad ViriƱa, Luigi Paterno, 
Jopeng Piquero, and Toby Estrella.
John Keating also came to give support and to talk 
to the inmates. He was even recognized by one inmate 
who is a member of Couples for Christ
and who said he was unjustly accused of rape.

The sharings of the inmates after the PDL 
were very heartwarming.

Here is a letter from one of them to Charlie-

Good morning, Doc, salamat ho sa mga 
pagtuturo niyo sa amin kahit 
sa kaunting pagsasama natin ay naituro niyo 
sa amin kung paano 
mamuhay bilang kristiyano. Sana ho doc huwag 
kayong magsawa ng pagturo
sa amin at sa iba.  Dahil ako naramdaman ko 
sa inyo ang presensya ng ating Panginoon lalo na 
pagnagpapaliwanag ang mga kasama niyo.
At lalo na nang matapos ko ang libro na 
The Purpose Driven Life ni Rick Warren.
Tumimo sa isipan ko ang mga pagkakamali ko 
dahil sa libro na iyon 
nabago ang pananaw ko sa buhay.  
Sana Doc maipagpatuloy niyo ang
nasimulan ninyo dahil alam ko 
marami kayong matutulungan at maliligtas
na kaluluwa lalo na dito sa QC Jail. 
At siyanga po pala doc, meron po sana 
akong hihilingin sa inyo kung puede sana 
bigyan niyo ako ng libro tagalog version 
iyong babasahin about God kasi hilig ko 
ang magbasa at saka nga pala doc 
kung puede sana pakitulungan ako sa salamin ko 
kasi nasira ho siya kung puede lang po
sana pakitulungan ako para maayos ito kasi ho 
isang beses lang ako dalawin sa
loob ng isang buwan. Ginagamit ko ho ito 
habang ako ay nagbabasa.
Pasensiya na ho kayo pero kung busy ho kayo 
ay okey lang. Sa akin basta sana doc ipagpatuloy 
lang ho ninyo ang gawain niyo dahil baka isang araw 
kasama na rin ninyo ako.

God bless you.
God bless your family.

Virgilio Abadia
SSS Main

Perhaps if you have tagalog Word Among Us (even old ones) or other tagalog reading materials good for their spiritual growth we can also add it to the gift bags.

I am sure God will bless whatever loaves and fishes we give him!
This is the third year we have been doing this and we have always been able to 
give more than what the inmates expect in their gift bags!

You may drop your donations at any papemelroti branch 
Branches: SM North Edsa, Mega Mall, SM Southmall Las Pinas, Glorietta 3,
SM City Fairview, SM Manila, SM San Lazaro, Robinsons PLace Manila,
Sta Lucia East Grand Mall, SM City Sta. Mesa, Ali Mall Cubao, 
Gateway Mall Cubao, SM Pampanga, SM Clark and at our main branch
91 Roces Ave.,QC.

God bless you!
:^) patsy paterno 
3751069   3742442  4126487

Friday, October 22, 2010

Father Suarez goes to Prison

Thank you for your prayers! Please join me in thanking God for a morning
in the jail that was truly blessed and filled with God's love.

October 18-24 is National Prison Awareness Week.
As part of the celebration, Father Fernando Suarez, the priest with healing gifts from the Holy Spirit, celebrated mass at the QC Jail yesterday, in spite of many obstacles. Although Fr. Suarez and his Superior said yes right away, we had problems getting permission for the mass from the Prison admin! We knew that the enemy wanted QC Jail for himself so we continued to
intercede and God gave us victory.

Fr. Suarez was a little late as he had been praying over sick people at UST Hospital
and many wanted him to pray when they saw him there. While waiting for him, we could see that even the prison guards were excited and even joked around with us. The mood was so different from other times we visit when the guards are usually gruff or indifferent. Father Hector from Laguna and Father Jeff from Canada heard confession before the mass.

Father Suarez spoke to the prisoners during his homily about Viktor Frankl
and how even in the prison, in their darkest moments, they can find meaning,
that their salvation would always be in finding God, and because of that,
they would be able to give love to others around them. We could see that he was very sympathetic of the plight of the prisoners and the first thing he said before the mass was that he was honored to be there, and that he wanted to come back.

The sky was a little dark, and I was praying the rains wouldn't fall, as there was hardly a roof over our heads! God is good all the time- the rains fell AFTER the mass! Since it was overcast, it was not so hot!

After the mass, Father prayed over many of the prisoners even if he had said earlier he would just give a general praying over. Prisoners and even the guards lined up for praying over. Father Suarez was almost hugging them as he prayed over them. One inmate, Patrick de la Rosa, who was in the news recently, did not want to let go of Father and was obviously crying as he spoke to Father S. After Father prayed over the inmates at the basement, where we held the mass, he went to the cells and even to the infirmary. He also prayed over Jopet as Jopet had an attack of asthma the previous night.

Father S was obviously sincere when he said he wanted to come back. He even gave a date for his next visit! When I thanked him for coming, he waved away my thanks saying that he was really happy to be there.

Thank you also for the toys some of you have donated. We brought them yesterday. They will be given away to inmates' children on Sunday, October 31, when the families and friends of inmates will visit and there will be games and prizes. So if you still have toys to donate, we can still bring it on our next scheduled visit, Friday, October 29. You can bring the toys to any papemelroti branch, or you can contact me and I'll try to arrange for pick up. Please mark donations with "Prison" as we are also a drop center for CYA's Ukay Ukay.

God bless you for your untiring support and prayers!
:^) patsy

Hebrews 13:3 (New International Version)

3Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners,

and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

August 14, 2010

I have good developments to report :^)
1. Our prison ministry is now part of the Restorative Justice School
run by the Archdiocese of Cubao. The school runs every Friday from 9am-12 noon. From 9-10 am, there is scripture teaching on the gospel of the succeeding Sunday. 10-11 am is the slot for Good values, then at 11am to 12 noon they have some practical lessons. Our little Ligaya group was given the 9-10 am slot every 1st, 2nd and 3rd Friday.

We are assigned the scripture teaching portion.
Last Friday, Luigi taught on the Visitation, focusing on the qualities of Mary that we should emulate and contrasting her with Eve. There was a short portion where he asked questions and gave out prizes for those with correct answers. Then we served a snack for 100 inmates.

2. Jopet was denied bail last month. This really depressed him,
and he got angry at God, and he even threw his Bible. We were able to talk to him soon after to encourage him, and talk him out of "giving up"! He said something like, "I'm doing everything already, what more does God want!!" He hated the judge with a passion!

Meldy shared
what Lito, her husband, does does when he is angry at somebody or if somebody is unfair or hurts him- Lito prays for him and asks God to bless him. Jopet then said, "That's hard!" Before we left that time he promised not to give up and to continue "fighting the good fight!" I'm happy to report that Jopet was quite hopeful and upbeat when we visited last Friday. His last Judge (whose son died I understand in a drug related incident) agreed to inhibit himself. A new woman judge is now reviewing his case and Jopet said she was kind.

Another good news is that Jopet's paintings were featured in a thick glossy Art Magazine entitled "Flow". I'll take pictures of it and post it here. At least now he has proof that it's not just his family and friends who think he has a God-given gift for art!

3. The best news is that there's so much opportunity for blessing others and "saving others
and bringing them into the ark". Here is the schedule for the teachings and the Gospel readings to be expounded on. Perhaps there are brothers and sisters who would like to give an hour to be with our incarcerated brethren. If you are free or can make yourself available on a Friday, please consider giving a talk or coming along to pray and be a blessing by your presence!
August 27- Luke 14:1,7-14 "Rather when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame...- Lito Fider

Sept. 3- Luke 14:25-33 "Discipleship"- open

Sept. 10- Luke 15:1-32 "Parables of the Lost Sheep, Lost coin and Lost Son"- open

Sept. 24- Luke 16:19-31 "Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus"- open
Oct 1- Luke 17:5-10 "Attitude of a servant"- open-
Oct 8 Luke 17: The Cleansing of the Ten Lepers- open

Oct 22 Luke 18:91-14 "The Parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector"-open

Oct 29- Luke 19:1-10 "Zaccheus and the Tax collector"- open
Nov 5- Luke 20: 27-38 "The Question about the Resurrection"- Bobby Quitain
Nov 12- Luke 21:5-19 "The Signs of the End"- open
Nov 26- Mt 24:37-44 "Be prepared when the Son of man will come"- open

Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. Hebrews 13:3

Thank you for your continued support!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

June 16, 2010 Prayer Meeting at the QC Jail

We had a great meeting at the QC Jail this morning.
Tony Fernandez celebrated his birthday there,
and the inmates enthusiastically sang Happy Birthday to him.
Tony shared about his miraculous experience
when he was 7 years old and escaped unscathed
from what could have been a terrible accident.

Luigi took his cue from Tony's reading of Psalm 23,
and talked about how the Lord is our shepherd,
comparing our weakness to a sheep's dependence
on its master. He also shared about how, even if they were
inside the prison, they could be ambassadors for Jesus.

Charlie asked the inmates to share about their experiences
as ambassadors, and when they shared, gave away shirts
and the Word Among Us Meditation guides (donations from
you, Ligaya members).

Then Joanna de Almeida, one of the guests
from the community in Pune, India, shared about how
the Lord is our shelter and we can always depend on Him,
and how we can only find our home in Him.
This was an all seats taken, standing room sharing.
Many inmates crowded around the chapel to hear her
testimony, with Luigi translating it into tagalog.

Ben ended our morning with a song and salvation prayer.
Praise God that even if we only go there now every three weeks,
we can see God's hand. Peggy gave some bible studies to
some of the inmates, and they said they have been
going over it several times. Let us pray that God will give them
a portion of His Spirit and guide them. We can claim that
we will have many bible teachers being formed even while
"they are in chains" like St. Paul!!

May we ask you, brothers and sisters to storm heaven
with your prayers for Jopet- he says that the judge will give
a decision before August 3 whether to set bail or not.
It will be Jopet's 25th birthday on June 18, our anniversary celebration.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if he could be there to celebrate with us?

One of Jopet's painting club members has finished
3 oil paintings.
They are all P1000 pesos each.
1- Magandang Balita sa Birhen Maria is 16" x 20"
2- Bird Cage (similar to Two Teapots) 20" x 15"
3- Two Teapots 20" x 15".
Please contact me if you're interested.
Patsy at 09189173951.

Friday, April 23, 2010

April 23, 2010

QC Jail decided to limit our visits to once a month,
every third Thursday of the month, from 10-12nn.
They want to have all visitors come in the afternoon
and all service providers (that's us!) in the morning.
They divided the slots in the morning and it came to once a month!
It's a pity because I don't know how we can give a
Life in the Spirit Seminar

if we meet just once a month!
Also we were really gaining ground with some inmates.

One in particular, named Edwin, shared that it was only
when our group came, that he ventured inside the chapel.
He's been in jail for 9 years and
"pinagtatawanan ko lang ang mga pupunta sa chapel"
("I laugh at those who go to the chapel") he said.
But he said the Ligaya ng Panginoon
(our covenant community is called "The Joy of the Lord")
was different- why did we come, we had work, we had families.
I guess the other groups were religious. He became curious and started attending.

So now he said he reads the bible, he prays, etc.
When he heard of the change in schedule, he said it's not bad news.
"Kaya namin yan ni Jopet. Mag ba-bible study kami."
(We can do it- Jopet and I. We will do bible study.)
Jopet got astonished- "Pabigla-bigla naman tong si Edwin!
Sinama pa ako!" (Edwin's too brash, and he's including me!)was his reaction!

Edwin is such a fan of Ligaya he will call his bible study group
and his basketball team "Ligaya ng Panginoon"!!
Please pray that we know what God wants us to do.
Peggy said maybe to meet with the
smaller group of worship coordinators
and give them formation, during the weeks we don't have the big group mtg.
Please also pray for Jopet- the judge in charge of his case got a heart attack
and was in the ICU last week. They don't know what is the status of the case,
whether another judge will be assigned. Meanwhile they're just waiting.

God bless you! :^) patsy

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Charlie Lasa's sharing in our Community Conference

I am Charlie Lasa from North B and I am here to share with you an update on our Prison Ministry. My involvement at the QC Jail started last year with a visit to Jopet Tecson, son of Joe and Flora Tecson from North B, who was jailed on drug charges. Later in August 2009, a group of seminarians vacated a 2-hour time slot for religious instruction at the jail. Other religious denominations wanted to come in and get that time slot, but it was first offered to Ligaya, our community, because we had previously donated chairs to the jail.

At that time we were reflecting on the theme: “An Open Door! Walk Through It!” and my wife Peggy thought that this could probably be the “Open Door” the Lord was inviting us to walk through, to be fruitful, multiply and occupy! Here, literally, was a space we could occupy, if only for 2 hours every Thursday. So she asked if we could go.

I wish I could tell you that I answered, “How wonderful, honey! Let’s go! Let’s walk through the open door, and occupy Quezon City Jail!” However, that was not the case. Instead, I said: “What? Are you crazy? Ano ang gagawin natin doon? Hindi naman tayo magaling magdasal sa Tagalog!” (What are we going to do there? We're not good in praying in Tagalog!)

So what is a husband to do, if his wife seems so intent in going to a place that could be dangerous to her? Leave her alone with the lions and the wolves?

But in the days that followed, I was led to reflect on Matthew 25 where Jesus says:

‘I was in prison and you did not visit me.' And when we answer, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you in prison and did not take care of you? ' He will answer, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.'

I felt convicted, and eventually, I decided to go, but only until other Ligaya members, who could better pray and preach in Tagalog, will be available to take over. One Thursday led to another, and we have now been serving in QC Jail for the past 5 months.

So what have we been doing?

We take advantage of the fact that we have a captive audience for 2 hours. There is no escape from us. We start out with worship, ably led by Ben Salvedia from North A, and supported by an inmate music ministry group. Then as the Spirit leads, we give teachings, exhortations and personal sharings. Every week we provide a simple snack and give basic necessities, such as soap and other toiletries.

Little did I realize how God had been working in us and using us for His mission, until one Thursday, I received a letter scribbled on cigarette wrappers, and I quote:

“…Nawa’y huwag kayong magsawa sa pag-tulong at panga-ngaral sa katulad naming kapos palad at nakalimot kay Lord. Pero unti-unti akong nahuhubog sa mga aral at pag-intindi sa mga salita ng Diyos. Dito ko nalalaman ang katotohanan, ang tungkol sa mga salita ng bibliya na dapat sundin ng mga taong tulad ko, na naligaw ng landas…” (I hope you will not tire of helping and teaching us who are underprivileged and who have forgotten the Lord. Little by little I have been formed by the teachings and understanding the Word of God. I learn the truth here, about the Bible verses that we who have lost our way, should obey...)

Brothers and sisters, we have learned firsthand that indeed God will empower us beyond our limitations and use us to do His work. And in doing so, we have experienced many delightful moments in this ministry:

  • We have heard inmates share how prison life became better for them when they started reading the Bible.
  • We have heard them share the joy they felt after forgiving those who put them in jail.
  • We have seen men wanting to accept Jesus and asking us how.
  • We have experienced the joy in leading them to Jesus.

They have so appreciated what we have shared with them that, believe it or not, there have been some inmates who have approached me, asking me how they can join Ligaya after they get out of prison.

We thank you, brothers and sisters, for the support you have given us. Many have taken time off from work, simply to just be there for the prisoners. Some of you have chosen to celebrate your birthdays at the jail, sharing food and drinks with the inmates. Others have expressed their commitment in other ways, such as praying for our ministry, or donating in cash or kind. We continue to pray for your support.

Monday, February 8, 2010

One World, One Heart


Congratulatons to GAIL who won the bead bracelet. We sent it off right away and I hope she likes it!

Hello, fellow travelers, almost didn't make it! This is my blog for our prison ministry. We visit the QC jail every week, on a Thursday, from 3-5 pm. We share the gospel, we bring HOPE and minister to about a hundred men. While we do this, we are amazed at how God shows US His face and how His Spirit is guiding us! Even if we don't know what we are doing, even if we don't plan, God takes care of our meetings!

My art blog, HeARTworks, has joined OWOH before, and this year, I decided to offer a prize here too- we are hoping to provide livelihood for the prisoners so they can have money for their basic necessities. The prison here in the Philippines is pitiful! My prize is what we are going to teach the prisoners to make- paper bead jewelry. The bracelet has one paper bead amongst other kinds of beads.
Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners. Hebrews 13:3

For those who don't know what OWOH is, you can visit Lisa Swifka's blog, and read all about it. There are over a thousand blogs participating, all offering prizes to be won! And all you have to do for a chance to win is, make a comment! If you have a prayer or a suggestion for our ministry, I'll be glad to have it!

January 31, 2010

I can't help myself- have to share about our last visit to the prison. :^)
Usually we discuss before the meeting who is going to give a talk, what theme, who will share or lead a prayer, if we're going to divide into men's groups, etc but last Thursday, we forgot! When we were at the jail chapel already, Charlie asked Ben to teach a new song and Ben thought for a while then wrote on the board the lyrics for "Worship the Lord , in Spirit and truth..."
Charlie's eyes got big and he asked, "Does Ben know the talk I prepared?" None of us told Ben, and when we asked Ben, he said he didn't know what Charlie was going to talk about. Charlie said, "Why am I surprised? I should just expect it."

Charlie's talk started with reading about the Samaritan woman, John Ch.4. He used it as an introduction to his talk on how to worship the Lord. John 4, verse 24 reads "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth." I thank God for this and the many other times He has shown us that His Spirit is the the one running the ministry we are doing in QC Jail!

Charlie asked some of our brothers in the jail questions and some of them had really good answers to "What does it mean to worship God in spirit? What does it mean to worship God in truth?" Some of them sounded like preachers!

I'd like to tell you about Tikyo- he's a funny guy. I don't think I saw him look serious until last Thursday when he shared. He's full of tattoos and even told Peggy he had a tattoo in a place he couldn't show her (ka-men's group ni Peggy!). He's also an artist, and he made a paper sculpture of a man in prison with an angel, and he even managed to make the thing light up! All this with just the meager resources in jail! Anyway, he's one of Jopet's friends. When it was his birthday, he wished he could have pancit. Well, because of Jopet he had more than pancit and he was ecstatic. Jopet and Tikyo had a pact- if Tikyo shared, Jopet would share too. So when Jopet saw Tikyo go to the front, he said, "Oh no!!

True to his word, Jopet got up and shared. You can imagine how the others listened to him share. He emphasized that he was suppose to be free already as the Dept. of Justice gave him release papers but "The president put me here. The most powerful person in the Philippines. But in Isaiah, it says, my thoughts are not your thoughts. I will change you. I saw all the miracles He did. In PDEA, I started drawing. Here I paint. I pray that with this talent I can help those I draw. I really pray now, and kneel before God and say there is no one I worship but Him. He is making us strong. Let's just continue to pray. It's not important if we're in or out. The important thing is we're with Jesus!"

Jopet said there were lots of things he wanted to say but forgot, and we said that's alright-there's always part 2. That's a giant step forward that Jopet volunteered to share because before his reaction was, no way! Praise God, he's using his time in jail to help others. He now teaches painting lessons to the 15 inmates Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

As a body, we were also able to pray over Aldrin, who shared that he received his sentence already- life sentence- so he was going to be moved to Muntinlupa. He was teary eyed as he admitted his crime, and his sins against his family. What he wants is to be forgiven by his family, so Peggy asked for contact details so we can try and contact his family.

Thank you for your prayers and continued support! There are many more Aldrins and Tikyos who need our prayers and encouragement. If you would like to pray for particular prisoners, you can approach any one of us and we can assign a prisoner for you to pray for.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Seeing the Face of Jesus

Last Thursday, Millard Villaverde came with us to QC jail because he was convicted by the Gospel reading that morning during his prayer time, "...he has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives." When would he go, he thought, he had a lot to do. But when he continued reading, the Word continued, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled..." (Luke 4) so he obeyed God's marching orders and was blessed. Truly with obedience comes blessing! He was rewarded right away! One of the things he had to do was arrange a schedule with a priest he usually has to run after, but this time was different! The priest called him up while he was on his way to the jail! God took care of his work, just as He promised to take care of ours when we go serve in the prison!

After Luigi gave a detailed bible study about the first chapter of Genesis, Charlie asked questions about the lesson and it was a lot of fun seeing how eager the inmates were to answer (and receive the prizes that Flora Tecson provided). Then Millard gave an inspired sharing which was applauded several times. Truly he was sent by God to minister to our "captive audience"! He shared eloquently how he used weapons of goodness and humility in his fight against an injustice done to him. We ended with Danny Carreon enthusiastically asking our brothers in the prison to list all the verses in the old and new testament about "Do not fear." He said there were more than 350 verses and he would give a prize to the winner who found the most!

This Thursday, Millard texted asking me who would give the talk and what was the topic. I responded that I didn't know, the Holy Spirit would lead as He usually does! True enough, our meeting was very charismatic! Ben started off with a teaching about obedience to God. Then Judith Alpay shared tearfully and earnestly about God's message to her for this year about obedience, "Whatever He says to you, do it." (John 2:5) She ended with a song about obedience. Millard was inspired to share too and ended with singing, "Hindi Kita Malilimutan." Charlie joked that he would have to practice singing as the bar has been raised higher for the sharers!

We were surprised at how many took Danny Carreon's challenge seriously and listed bible verses about "Do not fear". The winner listed 250 verses. We gave him and the other brothers who painstakingly listed verses, t- shirts from the donations during our Christmas Eve mass.

It is indeed inspiring to see God's hand. When we obey Him, He more than meets us half way. We do not need to fear. He sends many companions on our journey. Today we also had Dory Concepcion, Lily Innumerable, Jenny Maniego and Malou Bautista from North-E.

Malou shares, "Nakita ko ang mukha ni Jesus sa mga prisoner, wala kang makikita sa mukha nila kung di ngiti at wala kang maririnig sa bibig nila kung di maraming salamat at ramdam ko galing sa puso nila. Si Jesus ang nangusap sa akin nung oras nayon nagpapasalamat at ngumiti sa pagdalaw natin sa kanya sa kulungan." (I saw the face of Jesus in the prisoners. You can't see anything in their faces but smiles, and you can't hear anything but gratitude that I feel comes from their hearts. It was Jesus who spoke to me at that time, who thanked and smiled at me during our visit with him in jail.)

December 18, 2009

I am so proud of my community! Because of their generosity, we were able to collect P41,500.00 in cash and so much in kind and quantity from our sector and the central sector, for QC Jail.

Yesterday, we heard
mass with Fr. Noel in the jail and his homily was brilliant. He said that at first he was kind of scared but when he saw the eyes of the inmates, he wasn't scared anymore and he thanked us for inviting him. We were so touched during mass, with the fervency of the singing and how everyone participated. It was quite an experience seeing the inmates all raise their hands during the Lualhati sa Diyos, hold hands during the Ama Namin (Our Father), and show the peace sign to everyone during the peace be with you!

We provided hotdog sandwiches, fruit salad, pancit and water for merienda afterwards. Our gift packs for 260 inmates included a pair of shorts, a bar of detergent, a towel, soap, toothpaste, shampoo, crackers, cookies, 3 packs of noodles, a chocolate bar, coffee, and a gospel tract. One inmate said that our gift packs were good enough for two! They were as happy as children to receive it and we could see them looking through their loot and waving to us and saying thank you. We were also able to give token gift packs to the guards and rehab office workers which included gospel tracts also.

We gave Jopet one of the really nice beach shorts that Toby E. gave and when we saw him, he was wearing it already! He liked it! He has testified twice already and will be cross examined on January 19. Please pray for that as that is important for his case.

Let us continue to pray for conversion of hearts and minds. We plan on conducting an LSS there next year. Our next meeting will be on Thursday, January 7, 2010. Please also pray for more workers as the harvest is PLENTY!

Thank you to Vic Vianzon for helping us find Fr. Noel. He did such a good job with the homily, the prisoners were inviting him to have a regular 'slot' ! Thank you to Lily who volunteered to help us pack the gifts for the inmates! I didn't realize we needed help actually, but it was a lot of work! Thank you to Ben, Dory, Lily, Vic and Clair who joined us for the mass.

Thank you, THANK YOU! for all for your prayers, cash donations and contributions. May God, the Giver of every good gift, bring the gifts that the world cannot give to your doorstep this Holy Season and the coming year.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Peggy's Sharing

Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners. Hebrews 13:3

A few of us go to the Quezon City jail every Thursday at 3:00 in the afternoon. How did I ever get myself into this situation? I feel I am the most unlikely person to serve there. Not only am I female(it is an all male prison),I can hardly talk in straight Filipino (the product of parents who came from different provinces and had different dialects, and therefore ending up speaking English).

It started when the son of one of our friends was sent to jail on drug charges. And then, in August, as part of our prayer community's activities, we started a time of reflection. The theme for the first week was "An Open Door! Walk through it! The following week's reflections were also so meaningful to me. And so, when an opportunity of a time slot for religious instruction in the jail was offered to us, how could I refuse that open door!? The fact that I was allowed to miss an afternoon's work every week to go there was enough of a sign for me.

On the first meeting, after someone gave a teaching, I just sat together with my husband when he led the small group sharing. Eventually, in the weeks ahead and with so few of us going regularly, I had to handle a group myself. At first, it felt so weird for me to lead a group of inmates in the small group discussions. Since I do not speak Filipino very well, I sometimes, even now, have to ask them in Filipino, "What is'______' in Filipino?" hoping one of them can translate for me.

But God can use even the most unlikely person,and the more I go to the jail, the more I grow in love and compassion for the inmates. So now, I am comfortable to sit among a small group of inmates. Many of them are very young, young enough to be my sons. Many of them are innocent and waiting for their hearings, waiting in such distressing surroundings. The Quezon City Jail is unlike the prisons in the movies, with jail cells with bars and individual beds for each inmate. Since the jail is extremely overcrowded, many of them have no space to sleep, even sleeping one person to each stair step.

But,inspite of this, in the midst of the many men who are there, I have seen men wanting to accept Jesus and asking me how; I have seen teary eyed inmates listening to me share, and men who are just so glad to have someone - anyone, visit them there. I have heard them share how light and happy they felt after forgiving those who caused them to be in jail unjustly.

Indeed, it is a joy to see God working through this ministry and to visit Jesus in (what Mother Teresa calls) His distressing disguise. "I was in prison and you came to visit me." Matthew 25:36

Saturday, November 21, 2009

God is alive in the QC Jail!

This was taken from Meldy's blog and written in June 2009:
We were pleasantly surprised at how vibrant and alive the prayer meeting was in the QC jail! They have their own music ministry complete with drums, guitar and trumpet. They sang so loud and straight from their heart I cried! Bro.Boy who leads the prayer mtg. puts me to shame with all the bible verses he has pilipino pa! We had a video showing of Joel Osteen from his weekly podcast titled " Living Breakthrough Minded". Going there made me realize why God wants to bless them - not only spiritually but also materially. He wants to show them that He will answer their prayers for provision! I feel so privileged that God can use me to bless them....all of us to bless them!

We brought with us donations of 120 bibles, merienda and the 1st batch of polo shirts
and pants. They still need more polo shirts and pants. Most of their waist sizes are 28" to 32"- they're very thin but anything will do. They are not picky. They even wear the girl's petron uniform! They were sitting on the 52 chairs we brought- also from donations! Two of them got prizes for memorizing Ps23. I would have wanted to take more pictures but it's actually not allowed. Patsy just sneaked this one.

Thanks so much to all those who rummaged through their closets! To all the rest PURGE NOW! and make an inmate happy. Remember, what you do for the least of your brethren you do unto HIM! God bless!

Friday, November 20, 2009

November 12, 2009 Update

Let me share my exhilaration and amazement at what God is doing in our prison ministry so you will be reminded to keep praying for it (like a missile, Ric Warren said, prayer will find its target unerringly!)

Usually Peggy and I just sit on the sidelines praying while any one of the brothers give a talk or sharing (Luigi, Charlie, Lito, Ben Salvedia, Ben Galang, Ian Belmonte, Dennis Castillo, Stephen Rebueno, Joe Dean Sola, Jojo Villegas, brothers from Familia, etc.) But yesterday there was no doubt about it, God wanted me to share! Before the meeting, we prayed a prayer of protection, then Charlie, who has been taking the lead in this ministry, said he was going to talk about God loving the prisoners. I said Oh no! that’s what the Lord has been prompting me to share! So of course I had to share and amazingly, the butterflies and other pains in my tummy disappeared while I was in front sharing in my awkward Pilipino about how God loves them so much and wants to give them so much and share His life with them.

During the groupings, I usually don’t have to lead a men’s group when Familia brothers and sisters arrive, but yesterday, we were so few that I had to handle a group. Jopet said he’d join me and he noticed how I was having a hard time understanding what the inmates were saying that he practically took over! I was thanking God at his transformation when he led the prayer, and shared. He talked to the inmates about how his case was hopeless in the eyes of the world because it was the president who put him behind bars. “Huwag kayong mawalan ng pag-asa,” he encouraged them, “tignan niyo ko. Gawa lang tayo ng mabuti dito at kapag lumabas tayo, mag-iba na tayo ng buhay!” You know I was listening intently to what he was saying, and all the others in our group were also listening. I was thinking that it was so obvious God is planning something wonderful for this young boy. Let’s pray that he will open his heart more to receive all God wants to teach him. He’s already opened his heart and mind to giving what he can, where he is, with what he has.

Here’s an opportunity to be blessed- the LNP group were tasked to sponsor a mass on Thursday, December 17, 4pm, and to give out 250 gifts and merienda for the prisoners after. We’re looking to give each inmate a pail with cover with stuff inside. The pail is so that they have a place to put their things. The inmates have to use the big paint pails for lockers because there are no cabinets for a majority of the inmates. We want to put soap, shampoo, toothpaste, face towel, sardines, etc. inside. So if anyone has connections to companies who would be able to donate ,we would appreciate if you give us where to write or if you could facilitate yourself, that would be most appreciated! Of course any donation, no matter how small is appreciated. Pls bring to any papemelroti branch (no money pls) and label for prison ministry.

Thank you for all the support, especially to those who have given talks, provided for merienda, thank you to Timmy Tan who sent Ian to support us every week! Thank you a million times for the prayers because every week God sends His angels to protect us, sends His Spirit to guide our meetings, sends brothers and sisters to minister to the inmates He loves very much. Let us keep the people He loves in our hearts and minds, let us make His passion, our as well!

Pls contact me if you have comments, suggestions, whatever- :^)

July 11, 2009 Update

Jopet, the son of a friend of mine has been in prison for 6 months now. Blame it on a skewed justice system. He's just 23 years old and we've been visiting the prison, bringing bibles, chairs for their chapel, food for the meetings, and now we're collecting shirts and pants for the prisoners to wear when they have hearings.

It's so inspiring to talk to this young man because he proves Romans 8:28: And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. It's a terrible thing for him to have to stay in jail with all the other prisoners. We know all the horror stories. But after talking to him, I could see God's hand.

He admitted that if God hadn't allowed him to go to jail, his life may have gone on a downward spiral. But now, I see that he's grown in the Lord, his heart has expanded, and he's recognized his gifts. He is developing his drawing and painting, something he didn't use to do. He didn't use to read, now he's read 30 books. He didn't use to write, now he has a journal. When before he was concerned with acquiring the best cellphone, he now appreciates simple joys. He also cares about the other inmates. He makes really tasty sandwiches, cuts them up, and serves his fellow inmates. He esp. tries to show care to those without visitors, because these men sometimes get crazy!

Hebrews 13:3
Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners,

He'll be turning 24 soon, and I'm collecting encouraging messages to bring to the jail on his birthday. Won't you say a prayer for him please?

Ways Prison Ministry Promotes Church Growth


This is from an article about Prison Ministries.

"I never shared my faith with anyone until I got involved in prison ministry." "Prison work taught me the true meaning of forgiveness, repentance, and restoration." "My prayer life has a new lease on life due to jail ministry."

These comments from recent prison (or jail) ministry volunteers capture some of the joy and spiritual excitement of this strategically important church ministry. The growth of the local church is built on the personal spiritual growth of its members. Prison ministry offers unique, vital opportunities for personal spiritual growth because volunteers get personally involved, even immersed, in the gospel basics: witnessing, Bible teaching, counseling, worship, and encouragement. And when church members catch fire for the Lord, it won’t be long before the church grows.

Let’s explore ten core impacts prison ministry can have on the local church and its members:

1. Prison ministry is America’s largest spiritual harvest field. There are more than a million inmates, many of whom are genuinely seeking change, stability, and love in their lives. Many inmates acknowledge that coming to prison was "the best thing that ever happened to me" because they encountered Christ.

2. Prison ministry does wonders for revitalizing the spiritual lives of volunteers (and subsequently their churches). There’s nothing like sharing the gospel to open ears, teaching the Word to thirsty minds, and praying for people with broken hearts to "rev up" one’s spiritual life and commitment. And the newfound spiritual enthusiasm of a prison volunteer is infectious, quickly spreading throughout his or her Sunday school class and friendship network.

3. Prison ministry breathes new life into church evangelism and outreach programs. Unfortunately many evangelism and visitation programs are either stillborn or impotent because charged up church members experience so few genuine opportunities to share their faith and see God reap the harvest. Doors are shut in their face, invitations rejected, and the same prospect cards endlessly recycled. In prison ministry, by contrast, spiritually hungry inmates come to the Christian volunteer, often in bountiful numbers--and all under the careful supervision and organization of the chaplain’s office!

4. Prison work can be a real shot in the arm to the Sunday school ministry. Class members can pray for inmates on a personal level, participate in "pen pal" correspondence with recently converted inmates, and pray for and encourage those who actually represent the class "behind the walls." Inmates are invariably deeply moved to know that a whole class is regularly praying for them. (This is the first time many inmates have ever experienced genuine love from anyone.) Some Sunday school classes even "adopt" an inmate’s family in their local area, opening up the vital new arena of compassion ministry.

5. Prison ministry enhances worship. Many prison volunteers receive a renewed vision for worship while attending church services behind the walls. When repentant Christians of all color meet together to express their love for Christ and joy in being spiritual brothers and sisters, things happen. Prison worship is never characterized by stale routine or manufactured emotion--inmates definitely see themselves as God’s chosen people, not God’s frozen people!

6. Prison ministry enhances the church training effort by preparing volunteers to minister to the unique needs of incarcerated Christians. What they learn about sharing their faith, counseling Bible study, and follow-up is equally applicable in "free world" ministry. Knowing they will actually utilize these skills upon entering prison makes volunteers attentive, serious learners. The necessary training can be supplied by a prison chaplain, a veteran volunteer, or a prison ministry such as Prison Fellowship or Bill Glass Ministries.

7. Prison ministry gets church members off the pews and outside church walls. Christians of all backgrounds, education levels, and varieties of spiritual gifts participate in prison/jail ministry. Men and women, young and old, new Christian and "senior saint" all have a place chosen by God to serve. And prison work is never very far away: city and county jails, juvenile detention centers, state and federal prisons, and "halfway houses."

8. Prison ministry teaches deep spiritual lessons, such as how to forgive, how to restore, and how to really pray (reminding that God does all the work in prison ministry). It also teaches very practical lessons about listening, patience, cross-cultural communication, and theological diversity among Christians.

9. Prison ministry promotes cooperation and goodwill among diverse Christians from different denominations, socioeconomic backgrounds, and theological points of view. Paul’s admonition to keep our eyes upon Christ was never more true than in prison ministry.

10. Prison ministry produces new church members and ministry volunteers. Contrary to the worry of some myopic pastors that prison ministry will "steal away" their volunteers, Christians who become active in the spiritual basics of witnessing, spiritual teaching/counseling, and prayer gain a renewed desire to serve their local churches. Many times it is the pastor or staff member who is most revived by contact or personal involvement with prison ministry. Just listen to the testimony of pastors and lay people actively engaged in prison work—there’s always an unmistakable spark of joy and enthusiasm when they share their experiences before the local church.

Above all else, prison ministry is a shower of blessings for all those involved. You can experience the wonder and joy of leading people to Christ and seeing them start their lives over in ways productive to society and pleasing to God. You see prayers answered in timely and miraculous ways, strengthening your personal prayer life. You experience complete dependence on God for ministry success after realizing that nothing lasting happens in prison through purely human effort and striving. You come to understand deep down inside the awful nature and consequences of sin and the unique role of Christ in creating new creatures. Prison ministry shows us why indeed we’re all brothers and sisters united in Christ.

September 16, 2009 Roy's sharing

Dear Everyone,

I just wanted to add to Patsy's sharing.

In my small group discussion, it was clear that what the prisoners needed was a reassurance that somebody still cared for them, no matter what crimes they may have committed (actually, the prisoners have not yet been convicted and their cases are still being heard, many of them delayed for several years already, probably because they did not have the means or the
influence to speed up their trials).

I think a lot of them are attending these prayer meetings because they feel that only God can forgive them for what they have done, and that only God can provide them the salvation they are looking for. Indeed, it will be difficult for them to receive forgiveness and understanding from their victims or from their own friends and relatives who may have already given
up on them.

So those who volunteer for the prison ministry and spend time with them give a human face to the God they are praying to, that the God they are yearning for to show them mercy and understanding is actually answering their prayers through the volunteers. And this, I guess, is where their true conversion starts.

In my small group were two suspected thieves, one suspect for frustrated murder, one for murder, one for rape-kidnapping-murder and one for rape of her apo. Yes, these are indeed difficult people to minister to. The message I gave them was for them not to lose hope, that God is a merciful God and that they should never stop praying no matter how hopeless the
situation may look like. And that there are people who continue to pray for their welfare and will provide them some measure of comfort by spending time with them and to listen to their stories. And the only way this message will get through to them is by continuing this ministry with
everyone's support.

It was indeed a touching experience for me, and a truly memorable birthday. I do encourage everyone to consider celebrating their birthdays with the inmates or other less fortunate brothers and sisters as well.

Many thanks for all the brothers and sisters, especially the Alejandro sisters, for their example of selflessness and love for the inmates and for giving me an opportunity to have a very meaningful birthday celebration.

God bless!