Lee Tonetti-Coles recently commented on my website and what she had to say really moved me, and I wanted to share the work that Rise Up Ministries is doing. This is what Lee had to say:
“As founder of a prison ministry and bible correspondence college, it has been difficult to maintain the group of the organization…that is until I met Paul. He has been a huge blessing to this ministry and all who receive from it. Through his generosity, Paul has enabled us to reach many other that need encouragement and a word from God. Without the assistance we receive from Paul this ministry would not be able to be as effective as it is now. I am honored to know such a great man of God, someone that is so in touch with the Holy Spirit, someone with a passion for the Lord, humble and open to the Holy Spirit. All glory to God for His servant: Paul Erskine! The world needs more people like you Paul.”
Someone praying for them
“I felt a need to encourage and reach out to prisoners, to let them know that there is someone praying for them. At that time I didn’t know how far it would go. I started writing to 5 inmates at first; today I have over 350 inmates across the country and abroad. This ministry reaches as far as Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Included in each letter is a batch of spiritual literature to motivate and uplift these inmates.
By June 2009, I was led to invite these inmates to pray with me at 6pm daily. I was astounded at the response. They accepted and invited their prayer partners to join too. To date, I have no idea how many prayer partners I have as I lost count. I do know that it is way into the hundreds. I still receive prayer requests and testimony of prayers answered.
A Bible Correspondence College was started in 2009 to assist those that had requested lessons to grow in the Word of the Lord. To date, I have over 300 students. Many of the students have already completed Course 3 and are thrilled with every new certificate they receive. I have also started a Women’s Ministry that focuses on restoration, as with the prison ministry.”
Something positive to offer
“With a positive investment into the lives of those cast aside and downtrodden, we hope that they would be reintegrated into society with something positive to offer our country and fellow man. I know that it is not just a dream as I have witnessed it. The inmates that have been released since the beginning of our friendship have all kept contact with me and update me frequently on their progress.
This is the most rewarding thing I have ever done – nothing can compare to the joy I feel when I receive each letter. This ministry has worked both ways as I too have grown. I receive motivation, love and lots of prayer support from these men and women. My most memorable moment was receiving a poem from an inmate that regarded me as a mother figure. His family had abandoned him when he was arrested years ago as a youngster. He had no-one until I found his name in Joy magazine and started to write to him.
In November 2009, I received a poem titled ‘Super Woman’ – it was his thank you to me for believing in him and not judging him. As I read that poem, I cried unashamedly. I was so touched! He would always send me lovely poems, which was the motivation behind the book that I am currently writing on the lives of these inmates and their testimony. But, that poem, Super Woman, had done something to me deep inside. I still have that poem on my wall, I call it my Wall of Testimonies, with all the artwork, paintings, poems, cards, etc. that I receive from these inmates.”
He would never see freedom
“My saddest and worst experience was a letter received from the same young guy in May 2010, after a long silence from him. He had complained in previous letters of on-and-off illness, but this letter broke my heart and left me sobbing for days. He had included a previous letter he wrote in reply to mine, but hadn’t posted it due to depression. His doctor had persuaded him finally to take an HIV/Aids test…and it came back positive. The test showed that he was too far gone and didn’t have much longer. He was devastated. Due to be released from prison in 2014, he would never see freedom and society would never know the changed man that he had become.
I cried because I would never get the chance to meet this young man. His letters had shown such a change from the first time we met on paper. The jovial letters that I had become so used to receiving had stopped abruptly. I tried in every manner to make contact, even asking after him, to no avail. My heart still bleeds at the thought that I had made such a great friend and never got the chance to meet him. This has rooted a desire to travel and meet those inmates that have impacted this ministry and me, unfortunately until now, it has not been possible due to transport challenges.
Until a few months ago, this ministry had battled due to lack of finances. I have never received funding or donations before, until I met Paul Erskine. Paul had seen a letter I wrote to Joy magazine thanking them for the articles on the inmates and explaining how it developed into a ministry for me. The letter was published four months after I wrote in to the editor, but I believe the timing was according to God. Paul had offered financial support toward the prison ministry. I couldn’t believe it. But as he had said in our meeting, it was all in God’s plan.”
A bright 2012
“Two months later I was unemployed, the company I was working for closed down. Paul came through as promised. The money received from him has managed to set up a small home office and effective correspondence with these inmates. I am forever grateful to him for what he has been doing for this ministry. Paul has been a huge blessing and I thank God for him.
We have strong goals for the prison ministry. I look forward to a bright 2012 and to working with Paul Erskine, a great and anointed man of God!”
Thank you Lee, for your kind words and the amazing work that you’re doing! If anyone would like to get in touch with Lee and support Rise Up Ministries in any way, please email Lee today.