March, 2014

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Special Meeting – PIM’s Steering Committee held a special meeting on March 8th, at the the First Baptist Church in Fall River, MA. Six former inmates united with three members of the Steering Committee. This meeting was called to record a video with the testimony of each person who spent time in prison. It was also an opportunity for members of the Steering Committee to meet some of the people they have helped through their work as administrative committee.

Representing PIM were the Rev. John Webster, Elder Penny Webster and Elder Roland Chase, whose appreciation of attendance is registered below. My wife Sandra Annunciacao was also present, who helped provide refreshments, and the Deacon Rick Koconis, whose videography skills have been a tremendous support in recording the testimonies and editing videos. Each of the former inmates was eager to share their respective experiences. No one abided to the allotted five minutes we gave them. All of them wanted to share how God strengthened them when in prison and how much their lives were changed and blessed. One of the former inmates highlighted the strong sense of community he experienced among other prisoners, which he does not find at the churches he visits. Another one spoke about the sense of unity among the Christian inmates, no matter their previous religious background. All of them rejoiced over the many good changes God made in their lives, emphasizing the importance of the bible studies in prisons. 

A former inmate’s wife and little daughter attended, as well as the wife of a Brazilian man who is still imprisoned. One of the former inmates knew her husband in the Bristol County Prison bible study, and invited her to participate. She was comforted by the words she heard from the wife of the former inmate who shared with her how much strength she found in God to face those almost 13 months that her husband was in prison.

At the picture above (left to right): 1- Rodrigo (From Guatemala –  holding his 18-month old daughter; 2 – Sandra Annunciacao; 3 – Gerson Annunciacao; 4 – Branca (from Portugal, she is married to a Brazilian man who still is in prison); 5 – John Webster – co-chair of PIM steering committee; 6 – André (Brazilian); 7 – Juan Pablo (From Ecuador, spent 14 months in prison).

Front row: 8 – Wilson (From Brazil, he spent less than 3 months in prison); 9 – Isidro Junior (From Guatemala); 10 – Victor (From Tajikistan); 11 – Penny Webster – member of PIM steering committee; 12 – Rosa (From Honduras, she is married to Rodrigo)

Roland Chase – Newspapers and TV don´t have much good to say about the “aliens and strangers” in our midst, but listening to them in person is an eye-opening, heart-tugging experience.  With John and Penny Webster of the Presbyterian Immigrant Ministry steering committee, I attended a gathering in Fall River of about six “alumni” of southeastern Massachusetts prisons. The purpose was to film the testimonies of these former prisoners for a promotional video, but I was personally moved and inspired by hearing what they had to say.  I heard a lot about God´s grace in their lives and how much they appreciated Gerson´s pastoral ministry among them.  To me, this was a living sermon about the great things God is doing in prisons today through PIM.

Donations received:

– Henry Ruppenthal

– Rosemarie Smith

– IPI do Brasil

– First Presbyterian Church – Stamford, CT

– Primera Iglesia Presbiteriana Hispana – Boston, MA

– Igreja Presbiteriana de Boston

– Calvary Presbyterian Church – Enfield, CT

– Greenwood Community Church – Warwick, RI

– First Presbyterian Church – San Mateo, CA

 ATENCION, THE PRESBYTERY CHANGED ITS MAIL ADDRESS:

Send your donations by check or money order made out to: Presbytery of Southern New England – P.O. Box 388, Chester, CT 06412 – Important: write a note designating your offer to the Presbyterian Immigrant Ministry.

 March Attendance

Day

Prison (all units)

Attendance

05

Boston

31

06

Plymouth

49

07

Bristol

22

12

Boston

25

13

Plymouth

38

14

Bristol

16

19

Boston

27

20

Plymouth

27

21

Bristol

14

26

Boston

30

27

Plymouth

35

28

Bristol

15

 Paying Back – Last Saturday I received a call from Romildo, a Brazilian man who spent a few months at the prison in Boston. He was released during the last Christmas Eve. He called me to tell me he is contacting some community leaders where he lives to provide support for immigrants in prison. He said that when he was imprisoned, many inmates did not have the financial support from outsiders to buy food in the cantina or to make a phone call. Romildo’s idea is to create a fund to provide assistance to the inmates. Among those who he has already contacted is a Brazilian Catholic Priest who promised to join the effort. According to Romildo’s own words, this is a way to pay back what was done for him.

 

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