Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
XEROX IS DOING SOMETHING COOL
If you go to this web site, http://www.letssaythanks.com/Home1280.html you can pick out a thank you card and Xerox will print it and it will be sent to a soldier that is currently serving in Iraq. You can't pick out who gets it, but it will go to a member of the armed services.
How AMAZING it would be if we could get everyone we know to send one!!!
It is FREE and it only takes a second.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if the soldiers received a bunch of these?
Whether you are for or against the war, our soldiers over there need to know we are behind them.
This takes just 10 seconds and it's a wonderful way to say thank you.
Please take the time and please take the time to pass it on for others to do. We can never say enough thank you's.
Thanks for taking to time to support our military!
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Who are you inviting to your Thanksgiving table this season? Would you set a plate for those the world has forgotten? Have you ever thought about the Lord’s command to visit the prisoner?
This is your unique opportunity to show love to the incarcerated men of Division 14 @ Cook County Jail. For the 2nd year in a row, the Willow Creek team has been called on to serve these men a traditional Thanksgiving meal on Thanksgiving Day complete with turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and a nice cup of coffee. Without your gift of compassion, these men would receive the same jail diet.
The challenge: Feeding the 600
- 20 men and women are needed to serve this Thanksgiving meal
- Must be 18 years old and older
31st Street& California Ave.
- A commitment of 4 hours is required on Thanksgiving day from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM
- Needs to register with Gaius Cosman no later than Monday November 16th.
- Email name, driver’s license number, birth day and address to email@example.com
- $5,339 needs to be raised to cover the meal
· $8.89 will purchase one Thanksgiving meal
· All gifts are tax deductible
· Checks payable to
· Must be be collected by a CCJ team member
Last year the team was challenged to bring such a meal to the Division and the result was simply amazing. By God’s grace and providence, the Willow Creek team has grown in favor with God and the jail officials.
In 2009 we were permitted to double our team’s size and allowed to look for innovative ways to deliver the Gospel to the Glory of God. Praise the Lord!
From Thanksgiving 2008
"Giving all honor and glory to God through Christ Jesus! … we feel blessed that you wonderful people took time out of your holiday to prepare and bring us such an inspirational message and a delightful meal. Your thoughts and prayers are with those who are less fortunate to achieve and receive such blessings on that special day. We are also thankful and grateful to Willow Creek volunteers. Your selfless act of kindness will never be forgotten.”
“We the men who live here at Cook County Correctional Division 14, building 4, 2nd floor would like to thank God in the name of Jesus. We give Him our praise because of your time, money and efforts shown in love to us. Your gift really helped us have a happy and peaceful Thanksgiving which set a joyous tone for us all day long. God’s love was expressed through you all and we thank you.”
"Gracias porla comida atentamente." - Oscar G.
"Serdeczne Bog Zaplead!!!aqnot; from Polish inmates "God bless"
Please consider taking part in this effort by participating, giving and praying and this Thanksgiving Day you will have one more reason to be grateful!
- Gaius Cosman
Saturday, November 7, 2009
~Transitional Living for Women Coming Out of Incarceration ~
Each year the Lake County Jail releases approximately 1,080 women back into our community. A random re-entry survey of 100 women found that 76 women were identified as needing housing. Of that 76, 34 women (45%) were classified as homeless. 59% do not have a high school diploma. Without intervention many of these ladies will return to the street economy drugs and prostitution to survive.
The House That Grace Built provides intervention for these women at the critical time of being released from jail and provides them with options that include a safe place to live, job and office skills training, personal and spiritual growth and development, parenting skills, financial management and coping skills that will allow them to become self-sufficient and independent of the welfare system.
Please click on the link to their website to learn more. http://www.thehousethatgracebuilt.com/
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Organizers of a literacy program at the Illinois Youth Center in St. Charles are looking for volunteers to tutor young prisoners.
Currently, about 20 people are needed to spend at least an hour a week tutoring and mentoring male inmates, according to the nonprofit Literacy Volunteers of Illinois.
Dorothy Miaso, executive director of the literacy group, said the need is much greater at the St. Charles facility on Route 38 than it is at other juvenile prisons.
At the Illinois Youth Center for girls in Warrenville, which has a population less than one-fourth the size of the St. Charles facility, Miaso said there's "an excess of interested volunteers and (we) are having to turn people away.
"It is bittersweet that volunteers assist many juvenile learners, but find difficulties tutoring all who need help," she said, attributing the problem to daytime scheduling conflicts with volunteers.
The Illinois Youth Center in St. Charles is the state's largest juvenile detention center, with an all-male population of 318. The average age of an inmate at the medium-security facility is 16, according to its Web site.
Theo Stripling, a spokesman for Literacy Volunteers Illinois, said tutors are asked to pledge a minimum of one hour a week and must possess basic math and reading skills.
Volunteers undergo a general interview and background check before they are matched with a student from the school on campus. Tutoring usually takes place in the library or in a classroom.
Stripling said the program is popular among retired teachers and college students but does not require experience in any particular field. The key, he said, is consistency.
"We find tutoring to be most effective when someone has the same tutor for a length of times - it helps both ends, making it easier for the volunteer and also the student," Stripling said. "The help these students need, a lot of it is basic English, basic math. Some of these students are falling around sixth-grade level if not below."
Tutoring takes place during school hours, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. For more information, call (312) 857-1582 or visit lvillinois.org.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Prayer Request for September 25, 2009
Michael D: Please will you pray for an officer here in this prison. He is seeking god Pray that our Lord Jesus Christ will come to him and touch his heart. He has a good heart and I personally care a lot for him, because he is a good person and God showed me how – Thank you and God bless
Lawrence: Pray that I will totally and completely dedicate my life to the Lord Jesus Christ
Nathan: I would like you to pray that the flood gates of heaven would be open here for my peers in disciples for Christ and myself. That God would bless us all with wisdom as he had done for Solomon. I also ask as I continue on this journey that God would lead me in a lasting, trusting and obedient life with Him. I pray that he blesses my family, friends and even my enemies and you that is standing in the gap for a sinner like me.
James: I need you to pray for me that I stop focusing on the worldly things. I find myself focused on possessions and things of this world.
Sean: Restoration with my two daughters. To become the son God wants me to be to my parents, and a brother to my sister. That God’s will be at the head of my life.
Sam: Could you please pray for me that I become more bolder with the Word of God. Pray for me that that I might study the Word of God more and pray for me to start enjoying life and be able to love and accept love and pray for me that I get my life together and that I might stay strong in the word Thank you very much.
Quincy: Hello my name is Quincy and I am new in Christ and I would like for you to pray for me and my children. I haven’t seen my children or heard from my children in a while. I pray that I here from my family and children. Thank you and God bless you all.
Robert: Pray please that the Lord will keep everyone in Sheridan CC from harm and that the Lord would bless and keep all of our families and yours.
Prayer Request for October 2, 2009
Quincy: I pray that whoever read this prayer request pray for my children, that our Father who in heaven watched over my children and my mom and my son’s mother who is also incarcerated due to her drug addiction. I pray that she find God in her life – Amen Quincy Thank you
Michael K – Please pray for my son Jahari, 13 months is his age
Lawrence: Pray that I will be sensitive to the Holy spirit in all areas of my life
Sean: That God’s will be done in my life, that I will be reunited with my two daughters and that they receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior. That my parents receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior. That Sheridan Correctional Center stay blessed by God that it will continue to help save lives.
Michael D: Please will you pray for all who are not Christians and do not know the Lord Jesus Christ. Pray for the ones that hate me and you also pray for me that I will continue in my faith and love for the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and my health – Thank you, God Bless
Nathan: I would like you to pray for my precious daughters, Naenita and Natalie. I haven’t seen them in three years and every day I kind of beat up on myself for being a dead beat dad!. So I pray that as David stated in Psalm 37:25 that these calamities don’t overtake them. Please pray that his divine love continue to keep them. Thank You God Bless
Sam: Dear friend I wish you would say a prayer for me that I might be stronger in my walk with God; To help me with my lying and my forgiveness for others and myself. And pray for me that I might learn to love my brothers and help me to be steadfast in the Lord.
Robert: That the Lord bless and keep watch over Scott and his family and that the Lord open up his heart and mind more clear to understand His word in the name of Jesus and thank God for whom ever it is that is praying for us. (Robert also is praying for someone to bless him with and old King James Bible, his current one is falling apart)
A personal request for me is to have more time to prepare for the class and prepare a list of post prison ministries for these men so they can begin to pursue a place of safety and Christ centered environment upon their release
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord;
NAME PRAYER REQUEST
Tony P. Please pray that God keeps my feet headed in the right way.
Rolf M. Pray for me for a safe journey.
Donald H. Pray for Natalie.
Jeremiah M. Please pray me to complete the Gateway Program and for guidance.
Victor D. Please pray for me to make it through my out-of-state case.
Joe G. Please pray that the Judge let’s me go home.
Michael V. Pray for my family and friends and for me.
Rick M. Pray that all on this list make it into God’s grace and are blessed.
Deonte H. Pray that when I go home I get a job, car, and for my family.
Scotty R. God, Please bless me and my family and friends and help me.
Alfredo M. For god’s grace, and to stay full of the Holy Spirit.
Brian W. That I keep serving Him.
Rich S. Help me to spread the Word on my floor.
Steve V My friend Candice is going through hard times. Pray for her.
Forzay W. Pray for my step daughter, please. Not doing well with this.
Keith G. to go home to my family soon, including my newborn son.
I pray that God will give me another chance!
Joe R. That I can visit Willow Creek Church!
Jesse S. Pray for my, my family, and the world at large, Amen!!!
Michael B. Pray for myself to go home with my family.
Sergio P. for a better relationship with God and my daughter.
Louis D. Pray that I go home on E.M. Daily Report program and that
God be with me when I go home and for my family!
Ruben M. Pray for all of us here in CCJ, to know my call.
Jimmy B Prayers for my family.
Keith D. Pray for my kids, family and the woman that I love, and me!
Alex C. Pray for my family and I.
Nick G. Pray for me to deal with my time here and my family.
Fabian M. Keep my family in prayer as well as my court case.
Andre C. Pray for my family and for me when I go to court.
Marlon B. Pray for my family and I and keep us in your prayers.
Marcello V. Pray for my family and my friends.
Phillip E. Pray for you that came out to worship with us and your families, also
That you return safely next week.
Cornell B. Thank you for being here and I’ll pray for you, and you pray for me, also.
Joshua P. Pray for my family, pray that I humble myself as a person and as
I go to court.
Johnathon H. Just pray.
Fred W. Pray for me to have favor in court
Ambrose F. that I go home and for my family.
Clifton H. for continued grace and mercy from my Heavenly Father..thank you!
Darryl B. Pray that I may remain in the program!
Jose’ D. Pray that God and my wife forgive me, and that she comes back.
Steve S. Pray that God touches my Judge and officials…pray for my family.
Wayne P. Pray that I stay out when I get out of jail!
Tyson B. Pray that God helps me with my walk and for my addictions.
Benjamin P. Pray for my family-that God gives them the same opportunity he gave me
To have a relationship with Him!
James R. Lord, please keep my son safe!
Frankie J. Pray for my family and my next court date.
Michael S. Pray for my family, my fiance’, and for my upcoming release.
Jeffrey J. Pray for my family and my fellow inmates.
Gregory W. Pray for my strength in the Lord and my family who are experiencing grief.
Berry B. Pray that the Lord will pour his blessings upon me.
Jonathan H. to be a more effective part in the body of Christ.
Robert G. that my mother be freed from the spirit of alcoholism.
L.C. A. this place and my house
Ronald F. that God’s Spirit keep me mindful, strong and full of courage in court. Pray that God’s Will be done full of mercy and grace. May his loving kindness and tender mercies deliver a wretch like me from my self-bondage of substance
Abuse and imprisonment. Pray he protect my parents in their old age during
Saturday, September 5, 2009
I've been told that the girls just LOVE it when they are given a new book. You have no idea what this means to them. If you’d like to donate, please contact me at, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Those of you that haven’t heard of Angola, it’s a prison with an amazing story. I highly suggest reading the book, Cain’s Redemption, by Dennis Shere. I spent eight days there and it was truly life changing. One could not walk into the facility and not feel God’s presence working in the lives of the men there.
I love to receive my copy of, The Angolite. There’s writing from inmates, along with information on the prison system, past history of Angola, and news about those that have visited there.
If you’d like to receive a subscription to their magazine, you can either go onto their website at, http://www.angolarodeo.com/, and click on, Angolite. Or write to them at, The Angolite, c/o Cashier’s Office, Louisiana State Penitentiary, Angola, LA 70712.
It’s a great way to get connected with a prison, and to show your support for what they do.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
The following dedicated volunteers were present: Francis W., Cheryl W.,(Our music Masters--singing and playing Worship Songs), Brad R., Craig S., Jim B. and Paul P.
67 smiling faces came down for Worship tonight....Correction--65 smiling faces, ready to praise Jesus, and 2 "frowner's" came with them. When I told the 2 that they would be in the presence of the King of Kings tonight, they "lit-up" and smiled brightly...!!
Of the 67 present, 12 men were down to the service for the very 1st time on a Monday-night. The message given tonight (which we call "The Word"), was on the Anti-Abortion Psalm. (My-o-my, is that going to bring up some raised eyebrows!!!) Psalm 139 states that ..."For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful....When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body...." (Ps.139:13-16a).
I don't see anything in Scripture about some questions that are often asked, ie., "What about Rape or Incest?" I only see that Our Holy God loves us (all) so much that HE personally watched (or watches) our development in the miracle of birth. Enough said.....
12 inmates in the 1st timers group--only 2 professed to be Christians. After the Gospel Message was given, ALL professed to now be a follower of Jesus Christ by saying the Salvation Prayer....Praise God!! Some admitted that they had been saved at a very early age (7-9 yrs.old), but that they had "back-slidden" so much that they thought they were now not worthy to be called a Christian. I then explained that what they really had done tonight was to re-dedicate" their lives' to the King !!! I explained that "once-saved--always saved"; you cannot lose your Salvation, but you can re-dedicate yourself.
The following are Prayer Requests for the Volunteers:
Brad R.-for Daughter
Jim B.-for Unity of our Team of Volunteers & his new job offer--direction from God.
Francis W.-Order in his life.
Craig S.-Patiences/ pray for a co-worker who has recently been diagnosed w/cancer. (Note:I personally appreciate Craigs' heart for praying for his neighbors and co-workers !)
Ed B.-Wife, Patricia, for her up-coming surgery.
Gaius C.-take time for rest and relaxation; spending quality time with wife and kids.
Paul P.-new business; needs direction and more customers.
Paul B.-organizing schedule(s) for school.
New Volunteers-learning the Gospel Message and how to deliver it.
In Christ, Brother Paul
Monday, August 10, 2009
February 2009, I receive a letter in the mailroom from Odi, not addressed to anyone in particular, but from a prison. Being the Adult Prison Pen Pal Coordinator, I handle those incoming letters. Many of them are requesting Bibles, Bible studies, or to be added to the pen pal list. This particular letter, as others have, tugged at my heart in a way I had to respond with more them just the general information.
One letter led to another, and without the man asking for me to be his pen pal, nor I saying I would be, we’ve continued to write. Each letter is filled with opportunities to mentor, praise, uplift, and give hope and love.
This mans heart was heavy with unforgiveness. I just happened to have not one, but two books I’d purchase sometime ago about forgiveness. I sent both, and he received much from reading them, and even went on to share them with others.
I can’t tell you how many times God has placed me in a Sunday service that’s helped me to speak much needed words to my pen pals. How many times a book crosses my path that later cries out to be sent to someone specifically I write to. Even in reading my daily devotional, I often run across one that fits the struggle one of my pen pals had just written me about.
This is what Odi recently wrote me:
“Thank you for blessing me with your friendship, your inspiration, and your mentorship. Because of people like you, it’s not hard to see just how good God is”.
Now that’s what serving the Lord is all about. Odie’s words spoke right to my heart, for its words like that, that reaffirms God’s hand in all of this. What a blessing it is to bless others.
This is just one of the reasons I share the love of Christ. I want everyone to feel the love one receives when serving the Lord. Instead of a vicious circle of serving oneself, it's an amazing circle of love and hope.
May all you who serve be blessed as you have blessed.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
What the law does:
The law, called the Criminal Identification Act (20 ILCS 2630/5 et seq.), allows qualifying arrests, supervisions and convictions to be either expunged or sealed. Many people who have never been convicted can qualify to have their arrest record either expunged or sealed. Many misdemeanor, non-violent convictions can eventually be sealed. Two types of Class 4 felony convictions—possession of a controlled substance and prostitution—can be sealed 4 years after the sentence is completed. Only criminal records prosecuted and maintained by the State of Illinois are affected. Federal and out-of-state convictions do not fall under the new law.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Volunteers Present: Paul P., Bob V., Craig S., Craig D., Adam S.
With the absence of our current Music Men, Paul P. brought in his "boom-box" and provided a CD of the Cathedrals. Such songs as: Sinner Saved by Grace, Something About that Nome(Jesus) and Suppertime. It was interesting for the inmates, since none of them ever heard any of these songs!
65 men attended the services tonight, of which 11 were first timers. Of the 11, 9 were not sure as to whether they were Christians or not. One young man said that he thought he was a Christian, but declared that he was Catholic and that he wasn't about to change his religion. I then explained the difference between religion and being a Christian. I explained that religion was an organization and that Christianity was being a true follower of Jesus Christ. That the two can go hand-in-hand. He then said that since he was Catholic and he was a good person, God had to let him into heaven.
Since our time was running out, I tried, very quickly, to explain the difference between organized religion and being a follower of Christ. I told him that Catholics can be Christians if they have a personal relationship with Jesus (in their hearts'). He still didn't understand and thought that I was trying to change his religion. I told him to talk to other Christians on his floor and to please come back next week. After the evening was over, I went over to him to give him a hug, but he was NOT very huggable....Please pray that he will understand.
Of the 11--8 gave their lives' to Christ and 2 were already saved, but made a new commitment to Jesus. Praise God.!!!
In 3 of the small groups, run by Adam, Bob and Craig D....something interesting happened....without these 3 volunteers talking to each other, all three groups talked about PRAYER and how to pray....Quite interesting.
Volunteer Prayer Requests:
Ed B.--wife illness and up-coming brain surgery.
Ramiro M.--for his son and his family, (son very ill and still in the hospital).
Gaius--refreshing time spent with son Jesse at Church Camp for several days.
Paul P.--need more business in his new job as a Handyman.
Adam S.--needs a job....needs a job....needs a job....and NOW.
Bob V.--That his business will get a boost in this economy and get moving.
Craig D.--to learn how to give the Gospel Message in a clear and understandable way.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
A love to share God’s word, and what he’s done in your life?
Do you love to write? Have you thought about serving but haven’t yet found where God could use your gifts he’s blessed you with?
After reading, The Purpose Drive Life, by Rick Warren, then watching the movie, The Passion of the Christ, my heart was screaming to find my purpose in life. I knew without a doubt that purpose would be to serve God…but where?
A mother of four, and not a whole lot of money, and a husband with a fireman’s schedule, I searched for a place to serve the Lord. To save you the long version, God lead me to the Prison Pen Pal Ministry.
Write letters to those incarcerated from my home, on my own time…now that I could do! Serving through letters allows me to work around my husband’s schedule, and taking care of the kids, and my home.
Through getting involved with serving, I’ve also had the privilege of going to Louisiana (Angola) State Penitentiary in, Angola Louisiana. There I stayed for eight days, and when I left the prison gates, my heart was heavy. I had met so many great men of God, there and didn’t want to leave. The Lord is doing some amazing things in Angola.
I’ve also been blessed to go into Cook Count Jail, a couple of times. The men that are serving there on the jail team are joyfully doing the work of God. You can’t go there without being moved by Gods’ love.
The serving didn’t stop there. I’ve also been blessed to go into Warrenville, on more then one occasion. God just keeps tugging at my heart. The volunteers that are serving there are so giving. I have no doubt that he Lord is smiling down on them.
Whether you are currently serving or not, if you feel a call to serve our wonderful Lord through the Prison Pen Pal Ministry, you can sign up through the Willow Creek Community Church website, or directly through, Christian Pen Pals. You can find both links on this website.
Who knows what incredible journey God will take you on? If there was only one thing I was allowed to say about the prison and jail ministry, it would be that I have truly been blessed by those I’ve been allowed to serve, and those I’ve serve with, more then I could ever have dreamed possible.
The Lord is amazing!
Hello to all our pen pal volunteers
In recent months the leaders of the prison and jail teams through Willow Creek Community Church have been gathering the first Saturday of the month for a meeting. It’s a time for those of us in the ministry to get to know one another, see what other prison and jail ministries are doing, to discuss what’s been going on in our ministry, and what we’d like to see for the future.
Maybe you’d like to hear what others are doing in the prison and jail ministries through Willow? Maybe you’ve felt a nudge from God to get more involved? Or maybe you’d just like to meet others serving in the same ministry as God has blessed you to serve in? Whatever your reason, we’d love to have you join us and see where God may lead you in the amazing ministry.
Out next meeting is scheduled for Saturday, August 1st, 10AM until 12PM. We’ll be meeting in room 206, Barrington campus (unless a room change is made, which will be posted on the monitor as you enter building C, or located in other places around Willow.) If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me. If you think you’ll be able to attend, please let me know so we can have an accurate count to accommodate everyone.
God bless, and I hope to see you there.
Coordinator for the Adult Prison Pen Pal Ministry through Willow CCC
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Companions Journeying Together, Inc., provides a forum to personally impact the emotional, spiritual, and social lives of the incarcerated and their families. Our vision is for a society that lives by the principles of restorative justice.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
This is a good video regarding what an all-around Ministry can be.
Key words for me were: Persistent ( in launching the ministry); Inclusive (of other churches) Desperate (for contact); Gathering (Volunteers): Instill (love and give hope); and Re-Entry (and a method).