Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Sobering Glimpse into Pergatory and God's Mercy

I was toying with a couple of blog ideas for this week, one being how I have seen the blog world used as a tool for Christian ministry and spiritual growth. I was going to write about several blog friends I have formed (see my links) in which our spiritual dialogue and debate has benefitted us all, and use the example of us starting the Mere Discipleship Discussion blog which has led to the podcast of Lee Camp's Sunday AM class at Otter Creek.

Well this morning I received an email that committed me to such a post. However I am going to focus on one single situation that touches my heart to the point of tears. For my blog friends, if you question whether your blogging is serving the Kingdom, I hope today's post convinces you that God will use you. Here are excerpts from communications with the mother of Pergatory Penman.

Tony, I am the mother of Jeffrey Wallace, purgatorypenman. Thank you so much for the CD that you sent. You've gotten it back, I'm sure. They are not allowed to have electronic machines, contrary to the gossip that permeates our society which details instances of inmates having cell phones, TV's, etc. I guess that right only exists in the federal facilities where Martha Stewart and Michael Milken spent time. Thank you for allowing others to view his gifts by directing them to his blog. I truly believe God has a purpose for him in this life yet.

I really would appreciate your writing to Jeffrey. We set up the blog for my son even though, of course, he does not have access to a computer and cannot view his own writing nor make comments to others in real time. He sends the articles to me; I transcribe them to the blog; then, I print them out, along with any comments that might be left there, and send them to him. This way, he is participating in everything about the blog.

He begged me to set it up because it seemed a good way to disseminate information about his situation to the world--to tell his story. Under the subject matter of Christian Analysis and Discussion, I found your blog and others of the same ilk, leaving comments and asking for communication. God was leading me that evening because those people whom you directed to Jeffrey's blog have helped so much to raise his morale. And, of course, the things you have said have meant so much. It is my plan to publish some of my son's articles in either a devotional booklet or some similar publication. Your comment started me thinking along those lines.

My son has always been very religious but has waxed and waned in his walk with God over the years. His faith is very simplistic--isn't that what Jesus called for? He really thinks that God intervenes directly in the lives of His children, and circumstances have often proved his belief. [However], at intervals, he [feels] depression and despair--a function of the place in which he finds himself.

[Jeffrey] is very intelligent, and ... it is such a pleasure to discuss and analyze important subjects with him. This was true even when he was very young. I loved to go on automobile trips with him because they would give us a lot of time to converse. He is constantly pointing my thinking into new directions that I would never have thought of on my own (especially in the realm of spirituality) and I consider myself to be fairly intelligent. I knew he would have something to contribute to interaction among people searching for Biblical knowledge. That is why I contacted you and your friends through your blogs.

I am a retired educator from Memphis who has moved to the country [in] Tn. I bought 101/2 acres and moved up here just before Jeffrey's tragedy happened. It is necessary for me to drive to Florida every three months, at least--more often for special occasions. Much of my time is taken up with writing to officials in the Florida DOC, Jeb Bush, my Congressman John Tanner, Senator Frist, and anyone else who might be able to resolve whatever situation is critical at the moment for my son. I, also, do some freelance writing, garden, sing with groups at church, teach a SS class, do other church work, and even substitute teach at times. My son's situation is, of course, the number one priority for me these days.

May I please ask you again to write to him? It was so nice of you to send the CD. Sometimes, things like that can be directed to the facility's library. Otherwise, any books or periodicals must come from the publisher or well-known booksellers. I send many through Barnes and Nobel where I can order Online.

Please pray for Jeffrey and for all our family members who must live with this situation every day and still try to function effectively in our complicated society of today. Thank you again for being a real Christian and giving some of your time to reading Jeffrey's blog and making thoughtful comments. You have definitely been an answer to my prayers. It is good to make your acquaintance.

[Ms.] Wallace

I am constantly astounded by the exuberant thanks people express for acts I and others have done that seem so miniscule, so trivial. I often don't feel as if I did anything and yet it seems so important to them. I say this not to call attention to myself, but to call attention of to how God uses the smallest of actions, words, and gestures to make an impact in the lives of others--mustard seeds. Every now and then we actually get to hear or see that impact. How many unknown situations are you being used in by God? On the opposite side, our negatives actions must have equal impact and we never know how we have hurt someone.

I encourage those that read this blog to pray continually for Jeffrey and his family and to read and comment on his blog at Pergutory Penman. On his blog is his address. I encourage you to write him a note. The most occassional contact can sustain a soul.



jettybetty said...

This is so encouraging Tony! God has certainly used you in this case!

I will try to get Jeffrey something in the mail, soon =-)!

As for the Lodge in CS--that is not where Aggie-ed will be living--first, it costs about double what we can afford--and it is known for the party atmosphere. Like you said, what motivation do those kids have to graduate--they live at a resort!

Tony Arnold said...

JB, those thanks were for you and JMG too. God is using us all. I am glad He is using me, because left to my own devices...well it wouldn't be pretty.

There is no way on God's green earth that I would allow my daughter to stay at Campus Lodge. It is a resort. I was engineering manager for the company that developed the electric utility pre-payment system.


JMG said...

"left to my own devices...well it wouldn't be pretty"


It's really great to see his faith on display. I hope that his situation makes people more compassionate towards the "outcasts" in prison that we normally overlook.

erinlo said...

Tony- I had tears in my eyes reading this note from Ms. Wallace. I have often read Purgatory Penmen's writings and have never commented but I think I will now. Thanks for your example.

crittermer said...

Wow! I've read Purgatory Penman's blog before and it's awesome to know the story behind it. I'll be praying for him and his family.

I appreciate your reminder that our blogs can be used as instruments of God's work. I've heard blogs presented in a negative light quite a bit lately, even in Christian circles. I think that has to do with the fact that so many blogs have been used for gossip and slander, and that some people seem to blog solely for the purpose of venting and expressing negative emotions without any kind of holy perspective. I think it's a shame that Satan's handiwork is so rampant on the Internet, but what I try to remind people who have a negative view of blogs is that it doesn't have to be this way. I think God wants to use the Internet, our writing abilities, and our to conversations to his glory, and he does/will do that when we're surrendered to him.

I'm so thankful that I've tapped into this "holy remnant" of blogs.=)