June 27, 2011
Re: July 2011 Newsletter
The summer vacation season is one third over for most of us and our Nation’s birthday is upon us. July 4, 1776, thirteen colonies, the nucleus of what was to become the United States of America, declared themselves free from British governance with little more than an overwhelming desire to establish a country inhabited by independent men. That independence gave us the right to choose to worship, whom to worship or not to worship at all. As Christians, I ask, are we taking advantage of the freedom that men died to give to us, to exercise and share our faith in Jesus Christ? Have you shared Jesus with someone this week? As a fellow Christ follower, I encourage you to practice your faith with diligence, study the word – get to know Jesus intimately, and share the love of Jesus with someone everyday – it is what being a Christian is about.
Did you know that it is 180 days until Christmas from the date of this letter? Are you asking yourself why is he telling me this now? If you are new to The Forgiveness Foundation Christian Ministries, you may not know that The Forgiveness Foundation hand draws 3,250 Christmas cards, inscribes a Bible verse in each Christmas card, a personal note is written in each Christmas card, which is then inserted into a hand addressed envelope and mailed to a man or woman on death row. The Christmas cards are mailed December 10th, allowing plenty of time for every inmate to receive their Christmas card. This will be the only gift received by many of the men and women on death row throughout the United States. The death row inmates will then post The Forgiveness Foundation Christmas card on their cell wall as a remembrance that someone does care about them.
The Forgiveness Foundation currently has 2,250 cards and envelopes. We need an additional 1,000 blank cards and envelopes to complete the Christmas cards and envelopes. We need a gift of $230.00 to purchase the additional card blanks and envelopes we need to allow us to finish drawing the Christmas Cards and addressing the envelopes. In addition to the $230.00 we need for the card stock and envelopes, The Forgiveness Foundation needs to raise $1,430.00 for the postage needed to mail the Christmas cards. Prayerfully consider helping us with Christmas card outreach.
Last week I received letters from two inmates from Oklahoma. Neither of the men had written to The Forgiveness Foundation before. Both men wrote to thank The Forgiveness Foundation for the Christmas card he had received. One of the men enclosed several Gospel tracts that he had accumulated to help with our ministry. The other man wrote a lengthy letter explaining what Christmas meant to him. Six months after the Christmas cards were mailed they are still bringing men and women to us. Praise the Lord!
The following story of Roy Willard Blankenship is from a website post which I made last week. Roy was executed by the state of Georgia last week. Roy died maintaining that he was innocent. I’ve attached this to allow you to get a closer look at what is going on in a death penalty case:
After spending the last 33 years of his life in prison, 31 of those years on Georgia’s death row, Roy Willard Blankenship, was executed by the State of Georgia. Roy was executed for the March 2, 1978, burglary, rape, and murder of 78-year-old, Sarah Mims Bowen, in Savanna, Georgia. Blankenship was tried three times and convicted three times of burglary, rape, and murder. He was sentenced to death on all three occasions by three different juries. His final conviction and sentencing came in 1986. Roy admits to the burglary but denies he raped or murdered Ms. Bowen.
Roy Willard Blankenship was one of the first people to be given the death penalty in Georgia after the United States Supreme Court allowed the death penalty to resume in 1976 which explains, at least partially, the reason Roy was on death row for 31 years. Georgia’s death penalty statute was being challenged by Roy. The second reason is that Roy attempted to prove his innocence with DNA evidence. The significance of DNA evidence really didn’t show itself until the O. J. Simpson trial. Unfortunately for Roy, the DNA tests were either inconclusive or pointed to him. The third reason is that the drug sodium thiopental is in short supply. Sodium Thiopental is the first drug administered in a three drug cocktail used to execute an individual. Blankenship’s attorneys claimed the drug that Georgia was going to use to execute Blankenship was illegally obtained by the Georgia Department of Corrections. The United States Drug Enforcement Agency seized Georgia’s supply of Sodium Thiopental stopping all executions in Georgia from March 2011 until tonight (June 23). Confusion exists as to if the drug was improperly obtained or if the drug that Georgia planned to use, passed its expiration date while in DEA custody. Finally, Georgia, like a large number of other states, switched to Pentobarbital as its first drug, the sedative, of the three drug lethal injection cocktail. Blankenship’s attorneys challenged the change to Pentobarbital being granted a temporary stay by Judge Wendy Shoob on June 21st. On June 22nd, Judge Shoob lifted the stay allowing Roy Willard Blankenship to be the 24th man executed in the United States during 2011.
Roy never wrote to The Forgiveness Foundation so I do not know what his relationship with the Lord was, or if he knew Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. As I watch the men and women on death row fight to save their temporal lives; I wonder if their eternal lives are saved. This passage from Matthew always comes to mind, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16:25, (NKJV). It would be horrible to learn that Roy was innocent and executed for a crime he did not commit. It would be even more horrible to learn that he didn’t know Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior the moment he was executed. The fact is that it doesn’t matter if Roy was innocent or guilty at the moment of his death. The only thing that mattered is that he knew Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior at the moment he died. Our ministry at The Forgiveness Foundation is to take every opportunity provided us to introduce every man and woman on death row to Jesus Christ.
This week, Richard Bible is scheduled to be executed in Arizona, on June 30th. Richard is another inmate that has never written to The Forgiveness Foundation and has always maintained, without waiver, that he is innocent. I encourage you to check our website, www.theforgivenessfoundation.org, to learn more about Richard Bible.
The following men are scheduled to be executed during the month of July 2011:
1. July 07 Humberto Leal (Foreign National) Texas
2. July 12 Marcel Williams Arkansas (Stayed)
3. July 19 Kenneth Smith Ohio
4. July 19 Thomas West Arizona
5. July 20 Mark Stroman Texas
6. July 26 Jason McGehee Arkansas (Stayed)
Please pray for Humberto, Marcel, Kenneth, Thomas, Mark, and Jason. Please pray for salvation for the unsaved, peace for the saved, and that if any are innocent, that their innocence be discovered before they are executed. I encourage you to pray for their families and the families of the victims of the crimes for which they are convicted. Pray for salvation for the unsaved, peace for the saved, and the ability to forgive.
In order to reach the men and women on death row, men like Richard and Roy, The Forgiveness Foundation must purchase supplies like all other non-profit organizations and businesses. We need your financial support to purchase the supplies we need. Each month we use postage, paper, envelopes, and toner for our printers, electricity, telephone, and internet charges to take the love of Jesus Christ to the men and women on death row by the mail and to over 70 countries through our web site. I encourage you to consider Jesus on the cross at Calvary, being executed between two guilty men, taking the living Gospel to death row. A condemned man, in his last moments of life, was pardoned of his sin by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We need your assistance to share the Gospel. Prayerfully consider a gift to support The Forgiveness Foundation and do as God leads you. You may make your gift online at www.theforgivenessfoundation.org, clicking on the PayPal or donate tab and follow the instructions. If you prefer, you may mail your gift to The Forgiveness Foundation, P. O. Box 24098, New Orleans, Louisiana 70184
In closing I leave you with one of my favorite passages of scripture, (1) I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (2) Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2, (ESV).