It never ceases to amaze me the way God works in our lives. We make it so complicated, but it is so very simple. So much of my life I spend deciding what I was going to do, how I was going to do it and where I was going to go to do it. I thought I had yielded all to Christ, and agreed to do whatever he wanted me to do, except, there was always a "but" in the equation. I'll do this Lord, but ..., I'll go there Lord, but ... . When I finally got the "buts" out, God began to use me.
After listening to my minister preach a sermon on missions, and the need to get involved in missions I decided I wanted to do something, but I wasn't sure where to start or what I wanted to do. I approached my minister and told him I wanted to get involved in missions, but all I could think of was prison ministry, and I really didn't want to do that. (I hadn't got rid of the "buts" yet.) He said that he thought it was a great idea, but I wasn't so sure. He gave me Wayne Benjamin's number and told me to call him. I thought about it and finally I called, but I got the answering machine, so I left a message. I didn't know Wayne but I was sure he wouldn't call back and that would be the end of it. Well, I was wrong. He called me and invited me to the Timothy Program, which meets on Tuesday nights, so I went. I wasn't particularly impressed, mainly because I was looking for a way out of this. I was waiting for the Lord to say that I could leave, but He didn't, and so I stayed. Eventually I was approved to go into the prison, and I was as excited about going there as Jonah was of going to Nineveh, but I went. Then the strangest thing happened while I was there, and I can't really explain it. All I know is that when I left there, I felt totally drained of all energy, and when I got home and flopped down in my chair, all I could say was, "I'm hooked." That was the beginning.
I was working as a business representative for the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, Local 6 in Philadelphia. With driving to Philadelphia every day and doing all the travel required by the job, I was content to go into the prison once a week, on a Friday night, 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm, and nothing else. I avoided getting into the Directed Life Program because I didn't think I had the time, and I didn't want to commit to something I couldn't do. Then at a Yokefellow meeting, Wayne was talking about the need of someone to go into Directed Life on a Friday night 8:30 pm to 10:00 pm. Since I was already there, I couldn't for the life of me think of a good excuse not to take it, so I did. During this time, I had become Vice President of Local 6, and eventually, I came up for re-election. By now, having been there for 15 years I was confident of re-election, and I had said that the only way I could lose the election would be an "act of God", and if I did lose, it was because God had something else He wanted me to do. Well, with 700 votes cast, I lost by 7 votes. Amazing how the number 7 keeps popping up, so I retired. Soon after, an inmate at the Directed Life meeting asked me to be his spiritual advisor, which Wayne approved through the Treatment Supervisor at the prison, and before I knew it, I had added several more inmates that I was mentoring. I also had been given the job of leading the Timothy Program on Tuesdays, serving as the Vice Chairman of the Board, going into the prison Wednesday and Thursdays mentoring the inmates and then Friday night with the Bible study at the prison and Directed Life Classes. Now I knew why I lost the election. When the Chairman of the Board resigned, Wayne was in the process of moving me to that position, but before it happened, Wayne had announced that he was resigning, due to family commitments, and asked me if I was interested in being the Director. My reply was that I would only take the position, if I were sure that it was what God wanted me to do. I believe if I am doing God's will, I can't lose, and if I am not, I can't win. So after much prayer, I decided that, if at the Board meeting, I were nominated, and no one else, then it was God's will for me to take the position. I was not going to "run" for the position. I wanted to know what God wanted of me, and so when no one else was mentioned, I felt secure in the belief that this is what I am do to. Amazingly, years before another volunteer had said to me something that when Wayne resigned, I should take over as Director and I looked at her as if she had lost her mind. Maybe she knew something I didn't.
One thing I know: God does not call the enable, He enables the call, and as long as I keep my focus on Him, we will succeed. Praise His Holy Name.
Charles resigned in December, 2015 and Lisa M. Perry was voted in as interim Council Director and then became Council Director at the May, 2016 Board Meeting. Charles resigned as a Yokefellowship volunteer in September 2017 to focus on a prison ministry through his church.
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