Stories To Share And Inspire Us – Part 2

An Open Letter

Life has been hard for me. At an early age, I already experienced many unpleasant things. I have been through a lot of experiences, experiences far beyond the understanding of people who live in homes rich not only in material things but in love and affection.

I come from a broken family. When my parents separated, it was as if my whole world crumbled. I did everything I could to make my family whole again but then, what could a mere child (as I was then) do? I fell in with a bad crowd, I was attracted to my friends' way of life. While their ways were not wholesome, they had complete families, they had social standing, some of their parents even held high positions in government. I reveled in their attention. I felt I belonged. But I didn't realize that these friends whom I admired would lead me further to ruin.

It is because of them that my life is now in shambles. The worst tragedy of my life is my being incarcerated in this lonely cell. It hurts that I am here because my so-called friends refuse to admit that they are the guilty ones and not me. They roam free and lead comfortable lives while I languish here for a crime I did not commit.

It is extremely lonely here in my cold cell. At night I lie awake, wondering why I have come to this. My heart aches not just because of the injustice I have suffered but because my family's visits are becoming scarce and far between. The woman I love and who promised to stay with me forever has decided to leave me, taking with her our only child.

But I live on hope. This hope has led me to make my stay here as fruitful and beneficial as I can make it. I have finished my high school and now I am enrolled in a college course. I did not do this on my own. The people who have made it their life's work to help people like us - the NGO's, religious volunteers and other kindhearted souls - enabled me to see the error of my ways and helped me to see my way clear into the future.

One particular event stands out in my mind. I would say this is probably the turning point of my life. It was 1999, the first day of celebrations of the 4th National Correctional Consciousness Week. The air in prison was festive. We were all on our best behavior because we were expecting many visitors. Among the visitors was a group from Couples for Christ led by Mon and Penny de Leon. I had already heard about Couples for Christ. I knew they were people willing to help people like us. But many of us often wondered why they would give their time, effort and love to us who, in the perception of the world, had sinned and deserved to suffer in prison.

CFC became a permanent fixture in prison. They had entered into an agreement with the Bureau of Prisons to help with the bureau's educational program. More than this, they became the instruments through which we all learned about Jesus Christ and how we can, by leading Christian lives, move forward on the road to righteousness.

Mon and Penny became my role models. As time passed, I became convinced of their sincere desire to help. They have shed tears for our sake. They have never failed to show compassion and to be one with all of us in our joys and sorrows. They are like family to us. They have given so much of themselves, not just materially but most especially, in terms of spiritual guidance and support.

It was hard for me at first to accept that there were people like them who would spend time with us. But their frequent visits convinced me. More so because, every time they visit, they would bring people who have made people “outside” more aware of our plight. They continue to work to open doors of opportunity for us in free society so that we may lead better lives when our time here is over.

Couples for Christ have served to inspire us that we should reject our former way of life. By being brothers and sisters to us, they have shown us that life is good and there is hope.

I still have not been successful in rebuilding my own family. My parents are still separated. My wife has not returned. But God has given me a bigger family. There are no blood ties but our relationship is stronger because of the love and care that we have for each other.

I continue to pray that Couples for Christ may continue to grow in strength as they do their work of helping people. Thank you, Couples for Christ, and especially Bro, Mon and Sis. Penny, for spending time with us and, most of all, for loving us. We salute you for your untiring efforts that bring joy to our hearts. Trust that we keep you in our prayers always.

May the good Lord bless all of you!

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