December 2020
2020 in Review

In Hebrews 13:3, Christians are called to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison. But how can we achieve that goal when correctional facilities are closed and locked down due to a pandemic? That was the challenge facing Carmen Ministries this year.

While the current health situation has changed the way some of our programs look, commitment to our vision remains the same. Carmen Ministries seeks to continue delivering the message of Christ to institutionalized men in NJ and to offer ongoing support upon their release and re-entry into society.

This year, our ministry has taken the form of one-on-one phone calls, monthly pizza deliveries to the facilities, utilizing social media to stay in touch with men outside the prison walls, and providing Bibles, reading materials and DVDs to our young men. We continue to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to these young men in whatever way possible. We strive to show these young men that even though we can’t physically be with them, they are in our thoughts and prayers and are NOT forgotten.
Healing Community Circle

Before the pandemic started, when we were able to visit the young men in prison, we utilized a "Healing Community" circle. This circle was designed to offer the opportunity for the men to express their fears and desires in a safe and healing environment. One of our young men expressed his thankfulness for these circles. His comments offer us hope that we can positively impact this community by being supportive, listening, and praying for these young men.

"Pops, you are a wonderful and great messenger. Our Healing Community Circle is lovely because it gives us the chance to express our inner fears, darkness and sadness. I pray that your mission is a success and I may become an instrument to the end of the journey. Thank you for the love and support." ~ Lester
Letter Excerpts from the Young Men

"Dear Grandpa Tony, Thank you so much for all the love and the thoughtful cards that you have sent me. I cannot thank you enough. I thank God that He put you in my life and in my dad’s life a long time ago. My father would not be the man he is if you did not step into his life. Thank you for all you’ve done for my family. Thank you Grandpa."

“We met in the jail many years ago when I was lost! By God’s grace I was found. Through a lot of pain and suffering, I’ve realized one thing! No jewelry, no money, no drugs, nothing in this world can satisfy my soul. What I found is the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal savior. I walk life with Him every day. I talk to Him, I fellowship with Him and I honor Him. It is not easy picking up your cross every day, especially someone from the streets. But to God be all the glory. He has given me a platform to go forth with His message! I have lived such a reckless life. I have a great job and a great life and that’s all because of Jesus Christ.” 
Our Young Men Pray

Thank you Father for using me to help others and to bring people to You! All glory belongs to You. I realize You called me to do Your will and Your purpose.

Give me your grace and wisdom to become closer to you. Help me to become a Godly man and watch and protect my sister, father, and niece.

I pray to the Lord and ask for forgiveness for the sins I have committed. I was lost and God showed me the way. I don’t take this time as a punishment because I was saved by the Lord.

I am thankful and I live with no regrets. I ask that the Lord watch over my family and loved ones, guide us all down the right path, and keep the evil away.

I pray that everything that I have been learning helps me bring people closer to God with the knowledge that I have. I have a plan to start a program geared towards helping produce positive role models. I pray God gives me the tools I need to enforce that.
Forest of Life
Tony Wood received this amazing painting from one of the young men he mentored along with the following note:

"This is my first acrylic painting. When I finished it, I looked and thought, 'Even the lone tree has a forest behind him.' You are the evergreen tree to the right in the painting - strong, upright, renewed each season, always standing strong in a forest of unknowns.

Thank you for always being in the forest of life with me! Love you Dad."
Interview with Drew Turner - Ministry Sponsor

I met Tony (Wood) at Bible Study 18 years ago,” Drew Turner recalled. “He has been my spiritual advisor and a father-figure ever since.”

Drew credits Mr. Wood and Carmen Ministries with helping guide him from a troubled youth to an enterprising businessman. Today, Drew operates a window washing business by day and martial arts school at night. Master Turner’s School of Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido & Boxing, located at 7G Naughright Road, Hackettstown, NJ, offers martial arts classes for all ages and skill levels. “We have students from age 4 to 50,” he stated.

Drew became interested in martial arts in 1989 and taught at the school for 13 years before taking over.

Like most businesses this year, Master Turner’s school faces adjustments due to COVID-19 restrictions. “Our classes are limited but, fortunately, we have a large facility. We can still have about 20 or so kids on the mat,” Drew explained.

Drew is inspired by Carmen Ministries’ and Mr. Wood’s “passion to reach young men; to show young men there’s more to life than what they’ve been exposed to.” And that is what Drew tries to do through his school, especially through the children’s program. “You have to keep fighting and make changes. We have to raise up a generation of strong young men to be pillars and set examples.”

Life hasn’t always been easy for Drew but he hasn’t let that deter him. “God is good. And today, with His help, I am living the good life for my family.”

To enroll in a class or to learn more about Master Turner’s School of Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido & Boxing, call 908-852-0609.
Cousin Ellis Scholarship

This year’s recipient of the Cousin Ellis Scholarship is Quartius Byrd (pictured left). Quartius, who was given this award for his high academic achievement, is pursuing a degree in Sports Management.

Congratulations Quartius.
2021 Bible Verse

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
James 1:12
Support Carmen Ministries

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Thank you!
Carmen Ministries' Mission

To provide every youthful offender the opportunity to hear and respond to the Gospel, to grow in his relationship with Christ, and to become a responsible, contributing adult.
Please Note
Names of the incarcerated may have been omitted or changed to provide anonymity.
Content may have been edited and condensed with the intent of preserving the author's original message.
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