Monday, August 17, 2009

The Virtual Pew News 21, Visit Those In Prison!

Today I am back on my regular routine, a lot has happened and this copy of The Virtual Pew Newsletter will have a lot of things to address, I hope and pray you take the time to review it. It will have updates regarding my life, the life of Mosaic Church in Wichita, and onogings related to The Virtual Pew.

The summer has been rather crazy, let me see if I can paraphrase for you in short notice the events of the summer so far: my son left home, he is with his girlfriend, they plan on getting married next May and they are expecting a baby. That said, God calls me to love my son, and his girlfriend, that don’t mean I agree with everything, but it is what it is. We are all called to love!

Next up, my daughter quit her job to finish her graduate studies and work as a graduate assistant at Wichita State University, shortly thereafter, due to the economy her husband lost his job and now times are going to be challenging. She is smart enough to have saved money for the mortgage payment for their house for a year. To hear her husband state it, “We have the house payment, but don’t know if we will have electricity or not.”

My wife had surgery on her foot and leg, this put a kink into things, I spent much of the summer home with her, helping take care of her, it was good, but at times stressing.

Then we found out our landlord, in the house we had a lease option to purchase on, filed bankruptcy. We are still in limbo here until it goes to court. Long story there, but oh boy, you can only imagine.

We had to put our little dog down, seems he became to aggressive, killed 11 chickens in 2 days, bit me, snapped at a little boy, and well, the Humane Society don’t rehab dogs like that

My wife got a band together; we played a number of concerts in June, and have more coming up. We opened for a band named SHEL from Colorado and was blessed to spend some time with that family over the summer, friends last forever.

My mother died. I made it home to be with her prior to her death, it wasn’t easy, and some friends helped make this trip possible. Apparently some people sent gifts that never got to us. If you were one of those making a gift, please let us know, some of those are obvious, others not since we never received some of the gifts. I don’t know what is up but we want people to be aware. We also received a kind gift from friends at Hollywood Jesus that allowed my wife to visit and be there with me for the funeral. Without their generosity, this wouldn’t have happened.

Then we have a movie company, TiRoMa films out of Tulsa that has committed to making the movie on my life. Right now they are reviewing the manuscript of The Keystone Kid, will work out a script and go from there. This is exciting.

We also provided through The Virtual Pew’s wrestling associations scholarship monies to various individuals in college. Two of those recipients, James Fox and Gage Deere are previous recipients of these small scholarships, but others have also benefited and we hope this aspect of our ministry continues. Thanks to those contributing to help make these opportunities available.

Now there have been other things going on, like at Mosaic. The church continues to stay alive, while we are running out of funding in October, we have hope of getting additional funding as we essentially went through a relaunch in June. While the church was funded for 3 years, only a year of that has been with me at the helm. For the first year there we built relationship and learned to love each other. After a year we started the regrowth process. We started this during the end of June, and it has been doing well despite the 3 weeks I had to spend in Tennessee helping my sister with my mothers’ estate. Mosaic needs additional funding to keep things going. We are at a vulnerable stage bu things look positive if we get that little bit of help over the next year.

Mosaic is starting a Abuse Recovery Center in October of this year. I and another individual at Mosaic, Debbie Elwood is starting this program. I have extensive experience as a director of Mental Health Rehabilitation programs and extensive experience in counseling. Debbie has her Masters from Emporia State University and has experience in counseling. This program will be a recovery center for persons of all ages who have been physically and sexually abused. It will be provided on an as you can afford basis and will be largely funded with outside contributions. Mosaic could use your help with this venture; NOW! For now, Debbie or I will be receiving a salary. We hope the program builds to where it will supplement financial needs of the church, plus provide additional salary needs for myself and a full-salary for Debbie. This is a dream of mine and we’ve already had some interest expressed from around the country. My story with abuse is fairly well known and we hope this opens up doors for ministry.

The article in Dr. Charles Stanley’s magazine In Touch, June Edition, opened many doors for ministry. I have provided counsel to an individual on the PGA tour, encouraged women and men across the country, spent time on the telephone, via letter, and face to face with people touched by my story. I want to offer a special thanks to Dr. Charles Stanley, but also Lisa Baker who wrote the story. While we have had no additional income come in, there has been a lot of ministry taking place. I want to touch on just a small sample of that ministry, and in this small sample, encourage you, and motivate you to do your part.

One of the areas I was not expecting to occur was the amount of email, letters and so forth I would get from prisoners or people incarcerated who found out one way or another about the story.

Let me explain today’s activities, at least as of 11:15 AM. I woke up, took my wife to car pool to work with a friend, and then went home to do The Virtual Pew updates. I showered at 8 PM (woke up at 6 AM) Then left to go visit a prisoner in work release whose family put us in touch with each other. Ended up getting to the work release program and the facility would not allow a visit. I then drove to the post office, picked up the mail, two letters today from inmates, one in Kansas, and another in Texas.

I drive straight to the coffee shop where I set up office a couple of days a week and started reading the letters and then writing letters of response to those inmates. I just finished, and will spend the rest of the day trying to do a little sermon work, some visitation, and then the writing and posting of this newsletter.

I want to share something that is consistent with the letters and contacts I am getting from inmates and specifically the two letters this morning.

The first thing mentioned in the letters is usually; (especially with a first letter) is how grateful they are to hear from someone. It seems as if they hear on occasion from all kinds of bad influences, but never from Christians. If what is stated is true, and I believe it is, Christians have little to do with inmates and often times Christians even hurt them due to their lack of concern. Apparently many of the inmates have hopes, and want to walk with Christ, but they need to know they are loved from those on the outside who are willing to help them in this journey.

This morning I thought of something, Jesus tells us to visit those in prison, now we have easy access to do this via letters. Now that said, nothing replaces a face to face, and for those I can, I attempt the face to face visits. This morning I told an inmate in Beaumont Texas I would visit him when I received designated funding to do so. I told him, I don’t have much money, but maybe someone will help fund this trip so we can spend 4 hours together on a Saturday and Sunday. He is doing what he needs from his part to help I am doing what I can, and hopefully you will do what you can.

I thought of something else I hadn’t thought of before. Jesus commands us to visit those in prison. Most of us don’t do it. I wonder what the response of Jesus will be for those who not only don’t visit those in prison, don’t write letters and when asked, still turn their backs on the very people God has commanded us to love. We know some want those letters, those visits, now we have them asking and some of us; including at times me, make excuses as to why we can’t do it. What would Jesus tell us in those situations?

Today I want to provide you information on one inmate who has made his requests public, listen to some of his words first though:

“Two things caught my attention with you Mike; One is we’ve had similar childhoods and like you, I have greatly been neglected by the Christian Community. I placed an ad on the internet where I used the name a “Gay Ad: and pictures of me. The mail used to pour in, but this new ad, Christian has not received one response. You can read it at": Click here to see the post from Gary

Gary went on in his 4 page letter to me, all hand written all seeking out a relationship with someone who knows Christ. He poured out his heart, but after spending 11 ½ years in prison. He was incarcerated again in 2004 for a 25 year sentence. He don’t have much more than time on his hand. Here is a captive audience who wants to hear more about Jesus, more about how we can share in life, and yet, not a single Christian has responded to his request. I am grateful he saw the article in, In Touch Magazine, I am grateful because I want to be used in a ministry that still reaches out to The Lost, The Last, and The Least. Why? Because Jesus has told me to, he has told you to, the question is will we be obedient.

Despite what some have said, the lies, the hate spewed at times towards this ministry, we continue. The rewards from a financial perspective are few, the rewards from a spiritual basis though, they are many, and thankfully daily. To know God chooses to use this ministry, to use me, and yes to use you in regards to the prayers you have offered and for some the financial support is an amazing place to be. I find joy in being in that place, not because I have done anything, but because Christ does it through me. Will you allow yourself to find a place where Christ can do something through you? I pray this is the case, because God is not good some of the time, God is good all of the time!

I have new friends, new family, I pray God doesn’t allow me to forget them. You can meet those people as well. I encourage you, write an inmate today, and become a part of their life. If you can’t do that, I would ask you to consider helping this ministry do that, if you don’t feel comfortable supporting this ministry, find a ministry you can support. I know God will meet our needs, of course that means some have to listen to the call of God.

I have another request outside of the regular requests though. We need ongoing support for our ministry, both in finance and prayer. I am asking for something special today, can you help make it possible to have a personal, face to face visit with Gary in Texas? It will require lodging in Beaumont Texas, (I am not opposed to staying at someone’s house) and I am not opposed to speaking while there to help with funds. But gas, would be needed, possibly some lodging down and back for the trip. I would also ask that help be provided to help pay someone to speak at Mosaic in my absence, I like to see to it that if possible, we can bless the speakers who fill in. This trip would take 2 days there, I could speak along the way, and 2 days back. It is close enough to my uncles’ house in Florida I could hop over and spend some time in the Panhandle of Florida or other locations near that Western Panhandle and speak in that area. I could make a week long trip or more out of it to speak in various places and share about this ministry. The intent though, is to spend face to face time with Gary. I told him this morning I would make the request. Maybe, just maybe, some will see the importance in a single, solitary soul seeking to see God.

Now I am asking something else, can you write to Gary, let him know you are different than other Christians who have ignored his pleas. He doesn’t need someone to preach to him, put him down; he needs someone to share the love of Christ. I will share the addresses and names of other inmates as I get permission, but a good place to find inmates to correspond with to write to can be found by clicking here.

I ask you to do more, do more than most Christians who sit on their duffs and make excuses, do more to share the love of Christ with the very people he has called us to love. Do more to be the church, to be the bride that Christ is proud of cherishes. If you are already doing these things, great, remind others to do their part.

If willing to write Gary, his address is as follows:

Gary Raleigh #1268593
Stiles Unit
3060 FM 3514
Beaumont TX 77705-7635 USA

Thanks and God Bless all,


PS on a side note, remember, there has been tons of videos, reviews, articles that have been done over the summer. Check some of them out at the following links.

District 9 Movie Review

GI Joe, The Rise of Cobra Movie Review

Up Movie Review

Harry Potter, and the Half-Blood Prince Movie Review

Are There Dogs in Heaven? Includes New Video

I Hate This Crap

Last Update, Goodbye Mom

The Last Conversation with My Mom

I Could Say A Lot of Things But What I Will Say Is

You Tool! Whose Hand Controls You?

The Boss Lets His Light Shine

50 Years of Lessons, My Birthday Wish

Of course there are many more in the archives, but these will help you get started, and beware, a lot more coming up in the next weeks.

Now the following is a couple of videos of a sister church who is helping Mosaic be the church that God is calling us to be. Hopefully the videos inspire you, hopefully they let you know why it is that Mosaic, and The Virtual Pew are both ministries that I love. Just click on the video, if the video don't appear, click on the link.

Saving Private Joe

It's Never Too Late: The Don Kirk Story

Click here to follow The Virtual Pew on Twitter

Click here to visit Mosaic Wichita, the Church in Wichita Kansas where Mike is the pastor.

Click Here to Go to The Virtual Pew Daily Verse and Read The Bible in a Year Passages

Click here for booking information to have Pastor Mike come speak or perform, from speaking to music or magic, something for all groups.

Click to visit with Pastor Mike regarding any of your needs. He will respond to each request personally, and if need be refer you to one of our other pastors.

Click to visit and join the new group The Virtual Pew, at MySpace. Become a part of a different kind of Christian group, check out the page for more information,all welcome, including those who are not followers of Jesus.

Click to visit the Virtual Pew Website and become a part of that ministry.

Click to subscribe to my blog

Click to visit and join our sister group at MySpace Hollywood Jesus.

Click to visit Mary Jane Furches' new MySpace Page

Now for those that do not know, make sure you check out the numerous articles and blogs by checking out the archives. If visiting The Virtual Pew or MySpace they are archived on the left hand side of the page. Scroll down to where you see newer or older listed under archives and then click there. There are hundreds of postings so make sure to check out the archives. You can also contact me for a free e-book pre edit version of The Keystone Kid at mike@thevirtualpew.comYou can visit and on the front page down on the left side you sill see our store. Your purchase provides needed funds to The Virtual Pew. If you do not see something to purchase you can click on the search engine, (do not put anything in the search box at this time). You will be taken to Amazon where you can search for anything you desire. Hopefully you will consider a gift to The Virtual Pew.

Now I get asked this quite often, Can we repost your blogs or articles? The short answer to that is, what an honor that you would ask, and by all means, spread the word.Here is our contact information

The Virtual Pew
P.O. Box 17731
Wichita, KS 67217

Click on the following links to learn more about The Virtual Pew

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