Over the past several years, Merryheart Ministries has been involved in many projects to give financial, spiritual, and physical aid to the Native American community, not only in Missouri, but also in South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Kansas.
Our past focus has been concentrated on the Lakota (Sioux) communities located on the Cheyenne River Reservation, in Central South Dakota, in what is reported to be the poorest county in the United States. Cherry Creek is a village in need of both spiritual and physical help. Drug and alcohol abuse is common leaving many unemployed and without hope.
This Christmas we contributed to a local Native American Christmas program by distributing Activated materials and Christmas gifts as part of our goal of reaching these people with a message of hope and salvation. Activated Ministries donated two hundred children’s activity magazines, and one hundred Activated magazines, as well as four hundred tracts, one hundred Cherub Wings greetings cards with full-length music CDs, and one hundred Christmas story books with CD audio books included. Without their generous donation, this project would not have been as successful in delivering the message of Christmas hope and Jesus’ love.
The response of the Native American community was deeply moving for us, as they were sincerely touched, and greatly appreciative. Our goal is to continue bringing hope to all those in need in the future.
One of the daughters of a volunteer couple working with our centre has Cystic Fibrosis, and has spent much of her life in and out of hospitals. Because of this, her parents felt a particular interest in providing other young patients with quality Christian material. Each of the Cherub Wings videos provides different moral lessons, which they deliver with upbeat songs and anecdotes.
Several of our full-time volunteers personally delivered sets of videos to locations in Missouri and Kansas. St. John’s Hospital, as well as a local clinic in Joplin, Missouri, received a complete set of thirteen videos, as did the Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. At St. John’s, the coordinator was very happy to receive the sets of videos, as they not only want to instill Christian values to their patients, but they would also like to give children a video to take home after being discharged from the hospital. Two Ronald McDonald Houses in Kansas City and one in Joplin each received a set of videos.
The children of volunteers involved also sang Christmas carols for the staff of these hospitals and families who were staying at the Ronald McDonald Houses. The materials provided by Activated Ministries were fundamental in achieving the goals of Merryheart Ministries, namely, providing a message of hope, comfort, salvation, and the real meaning of Christmas to all walks of life.
Another event which was deeply meaningful for us was the opportunity to distribute 2400 magazines to the inmates at a Missouri prison just in time for Christmas. The magazines were well received by the inmates who now look forward to receiving their monthly mailing of Activated magazines.
The prison chaplain has the Activated magazine available in many places throughout the prison for the inmates to pick up and read. One of these places is in an area where the inmates first arrive and are processed into the prison system. This is where the magazines are the most popular and hard to keep on the shelf, as many of the inmates have come face to face with the harsh reality that their lives have just changed dramatically. Many are very desperate to find answers and forgiveness and to find a way to the right path. Having God’s Word available to them in an easy to read and inspirational format, enables them to absorb the Word and to learn to apply it to their own lives and to the situations in which they find themselves.
Another area where the Activated magazines are available is in the prison chapel where many inmates visit on a daily basis. Some of these people are in prison for a few weeks and some are in there for life. Some are there for the first time; some are repeat offenders for whom prison has become a way of life. Some have whole families in prison and grew up in a prison culture in which life without prison is not known. Many have grown up visiting their parents or other relatives in prison, and now find themselves on the other side of the bars with their own children visiting them. Many of the women have babies in prison, whom they have to part with after birth. Most of these people do not want their children to follow in their footsteps and end up in prison as well, but lack the resources or knowledge on how to break the cycle. We believe that all people, including inmates, have potential to become children of God, and to learn about Jesus, growing closer in their walk with Him, with time on their side.
The third area where the Activated magazines are available is in the prison infirmary, which is like a little hospital where inmates stay if they are very ill. Some even live in the infirmary due to their chronic debilitating illnesses. Sometimes, when in the face of illness or death, people begin to realize their impoverished relationship with God and are desperate to find forgiveness and love from God
Although you may find people from all walks of life in prison - rich people, poor people, educated and uneducated, one time successful business owners, and the homeless, abusers and the abused, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers; one thing they all have in common is their daily battles to survive while behind the walls that now physically confine them. There are many gangs who are violent and seek only to survive by destroying other gangs. There are drugs and weapons in prison, and a host of other influences to teach people how to become more violent, angrier, more aggressive, and more destructive. Many think that adhering to these negative mindsets and behaviors are the only way to survive.
However, there are those who have learned about Jesus and who have clung to His Word, and survive by sticking close by Him. They have the opportunity to bring others to Him by reaching out and ministering to their fellow inmates. Activated magazines are a tool to reach everyone in prison with the Word. It is an alternative to choose instead of all of the other negative influences behind the walls. We believe that “the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword”(Hebrews 4:12); and that if people learn to live the Word, even in prison, they may have the opportunity to change and to know God.
Toward this end of reaching the unreachable, we have so far been able to send a total of 3400 copies to this particular institution. With the remaining donated issues, we are using them to introduce Activated to several other prisons around the state. The Lord most recently opened the doors to seven other prisons in the state and we have just sent out 700 more issues this month. These seven prisons have requested monthly subscriptions and so far we will be sending a total of 875 Activated magazines a month. This reaches only a fraction of inmates as there are over 20 state prisons in Missouri alone, with an average of 2000 inmates at each institution at any given time. With the Lord’s help, we may be able to see this ministry and outreach grow to reach beyond the state borders and possibly even further.