Fall Newsletter 2011
Mel Everson, Editor
15th Anniversary Celebration!
It was fifteen years ago that this ministry was first conceived. That was when God laid the mission and name on my heart. At that time, or even now, I never conceived of or even imagined what God would do in and through this ministry. But God’s Word says that He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ever ask or think, for His glory (Ephesians 5:20). I thank God, and I am deeply humbled by what He has done!
In recognition of our fifteenth anniversary, we present this special edition newsletter that includes the history of the ministry and a special highlight section with photos. We hope that you are blessed and inspired and that God is glorified.
I also want to say a special thank you to all who have supported my vision for the ministry, to those who have trained and inspired me, and to the many who have supported and volunteered in many ways. Without you these things would not have happened. Thank you!
History & Mission
As many of you know, I was at my lowest point when I gave my life to the Lord in March of 1993. The one thing that gave me hope and purpose so as to not give up was to trust God to change my life and to use my testimony to help others. At that time, I didn’t know what that meant, nor did I know what a ministry or a mission was!
God began to radically change and work in me. Then I went to prison in August of 1993, and I made friends for the first time in my life. There were those who loved me unconditionally, not just fellow inmates, but also those on the “outside”, especially those who volunteered to come into the prison or write to me.With God’s love working within me and through these people an incredible transformation occurred. This enabled me to share the same love with my new friends, some who never were loved before. I saw a transformation happen in their lives. I also saw the need for friendship in people’s lives. It is a necessity like food, shelter, and water. We have food, shelter, and water ministries, why not friendship ministries?
I left that prison in August of 1995. My first outreach was in December of 1995 when I sent 25 Christmas cards to my new friends back in prison. The following summer I held several “ex-offender festivals”, which were picnics for the purpose of aftercare support. Finally, the name and mission of Friendship Ministry were revealed with the birth of the first newsletter in September of 1996.
Our mission is to be a friend and, in so doing, share the friendship of Jesus, so that others may nurture their own friendship with Jesus and find true fulfillment for their lives.
In the Gospel of John Jesus calls His disciples His friends (John 15:14-15). We believe that in the fellowship of godly friendships we share the friendship of Jesus. We recognize that the "unlovable" cannot become lovable until they are first loved. So our passion is to befriend (love) those who may be unloved, rejected or forgotten. In so doing, our hope is that our love will draw them to God's love so that they may experience His healing transformation.
Highlights of Fifteen Years!
The first Aftercare Ministry Outreach was an “Ex-Offender Festival” picnic at Lake Nockamixon Park in the summer of 1996.
In February of 2004, Ed and I took our first “Chariots for Christ” road trip to Pure Life Ministries in Kentucky. What an adventure it was! On the way there, I thought I would show Ed and our friend where God “purified” me. But the prison officers were not happy about our “tourist stop” at the gate! Then we encountered snow and icy roads through Ohio. Cars were off the road everywhere. Somehow God guided our “chariot” safely to KY. On the way home we were stuck in traffic and only minutes from encountering the Columbus Ohio Interstate Sniper!
In July of 2004 the ministry was incorporated under New Hope Community Church. Also at that time Ed Bennett and Gretchen Jacobs became team members with me. Along with her leadership, “Sister Gretchen” volunteered at MCCC and hosted many picnics and holiday gatherings, making sure that those who did not have family to go to would have this “family” on special occasions. Shortly after moving to Arizona in 2008, she resigned from the ministry team, but continues to be a major support and an encouragement to us.
Over the years, we have had many “Just Friends” picnics and holiday gatherings.
In the fall of 2004, we held our first annual ministry celebration. “No Longer Bound”, from Elizabeth N.J., provided us with worship. For seven years we had other musically talented friends and my son, Will, as special guests and to provide worship.
At the celebration of 2006, I dedicated the ministry to my oldest son, Chris. You see, I cannot change my past and how I hurt so many people, especially my family. But I knew that I could make a difference. That gave me the passion not only to be committed to Jesus, but also to serve Him as a way to do biblical justice and to make a difference. Therefore this ministry is dedicated to all of those whom I have hurt, especially Chris.
In June of 2006 and 2009 I had the privilege of being a guest with Wayne Benjamin from Yokefellow Prison Ministry on 60 Live, with Pat Huber, at a local television station. 60 WBPH. What a blessing and experience to share my testimony and the ministry on Christian television.
“Mark & Charlie” have blessed us with wholesome entertainment at our ministry celebrations and at the Senior Manor. The ministry at the Senior Manor began in November of 2004, when “Sister” Gretchen, who began the Bible study, passed it on to me. Over the seven years we have studied through many books of the Bible, verse by verse. We are currently studying through Genesis.
In the spring of 2007, Ed and I began ministering at the New Person Center, a Christian transitional house in Reading PA. It is part of Yokefellow Prison Ministry. They now have other apartments and Ed and I split up to minister at two different locations simultaneously.
In the spring of 2008 Angie Tyson-Allen became a Team Member. She had been volunteering at MCCC since the end of 2006.
On September 11, 2009 Friendship Ministry was incorporated by the PA Department of State. The ministry was then officially incorporated by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization.
At that time, more volunteers came on-board with us to form our Board of Directors. Volunteers have also helped out with grading the Gospel Echoes Team Bible study courses, the greeting card ministry, newsletter preparation and in providing worship at the Senior Manor.Recently, Brenda Danner has begun volunteering at MCCC, and she has written greeting card messages.