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Prison Life Report

Learn about prison life in America in this free download, the open door of reaching prisoners, and how we are using literature to make a difference.

Feb 19

February 2024 Update

News

Don’t Fear the Darkness

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day. (Eph. 6:12-13)

There is so much evil and darkness around us. Satan is trying daily to make us give up. His greatest pleasure is to make us miserable, but we have a Father who is mightier than evil, and if we take up His armor we can stand fast and not fear the darkness!

Hello from my desk at Lighthouse Publishing. I am Suzy Hartzler. My husband Rodney and I have been married for three months, and live in Bedford, Pennsylvania. I have been working at Lighthouse Publishing for six months. It’s been a joy and an honor to continue the work that Pastor Jimmy was so passionate about. I mostly do exactly what he did—I even get to use his desk.

I process the mail several times a week. Each piece is either a generous donation to help keep our mailroom running smoothly or a letter from someone searching for something to read that teaches them more about Jesus. It really gives me joy to answer each request and give them something that encourages them.

There are so many lonely, spiritually hungry souls, and I am often reminded how blessed I am to have a husband, family, friends, and church that love the Lord and are a wonderful encouragement to me. I want to pay it forward, and if I can in some small way encourage one person to put on the whole armor of God and stand fast and serve our God with their whole heart, then my goal will be accomplished.

Thanks to each one of you that contributes to this work. Wishing God’s blessing on all of you as you live for Him.

—Suzy Hartzler, Office Assistant

Corridor of a modern prison

Issue 51 Update

Our team is currently working on editing Loaves & Fishes issue 51. We expect to be print-ready by mid-February. Based on our current schedule of three issues per year, this issue would normally ship in April. However, because of your generous support,
I am glad to say that funding is available to print the next issue earlier than expected.

We are hoping to be able to ship issue 51 in March, one month ahead of schedule. The long-term goal of Lighthouse Publishing has been to publish Loaves & Fishes quarterly, and with God’s help and your support, we know that all things are possible!

It is energizing to observe the Lord sustaining our work by providing staff, volunteers, supporters, and funding, not to mention the hundreds of you who distribute Loaves & Fishes in prison. Thank you!

—Mike Fisher, Manager of Operations

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2023 Cost to Publish & Distribute Each Issue of Loaves & Fishes (based on expenses): 62¢

Dec 27

December 2023 Update: Issue 50 Published!

News

2023 Wrap-up

It has now been a year since the transition of Lighthouse Publishing to a non-profit entity under the oversight of Hope Mennonite Fellowship. We have spent the year introducing our work to new people, and have brought on new staff, some paid and some volunteers. We have a new IRS tax-exempt status and new USPS accounts.

At the same time, our operations and our goals are unchanged. Loaves & Fishes continues to go out for free to any prison inmate or any person or organization who can distribute them in prisons. We aim to fill each issue with instruction, testimonies, and activities to strengthen and encourage Christians in prison.

As we continue our mission of providing free Christian discipleship magazines for prisoners, we hope to continue to improve and grow as God gives us insight and opportunity. If you are a distributor, please know that your feedback on the back of the packing slips are helpful to us. Even though we can’t personally respond to each of these, they are saved and shared among our staff. Thanks for taking the time to keep in touch with us.

We are preparing to ship our third and final issue of Loaves & Fishes for the year. Due to generous donations from our supporters, we have been blessed to be able to maintain our current publishing goal of a new issue every four months.

Our long-term goal is to publish quarterly. This increase would likely require at least $50,000 annually of additional funding. Pray with us that God would continue to provide for and grow our work.

What’s New with Issue 50

By the time you receive this, issue 50 of Loaves & Fishes should have shipped. You will notice some changes. For this milestone issue, we have refreshed our cover design. If you don’t receive a personal subscription to the magazine, you can view our back issues on our website, or feel free to request a hard copy.

Another change we are making is the elimination of the Business Reply Card which some distributors requested in the past. This form, previously stapled to the inside of some magazines, made it easy for a prison inmate to order or renew a subscription.

This form has now been integrated into the magazine itself, and will be included in all versions of the magazine. An inmate can simply remove the page from the magazine, fill it out, and return to us in an envelope. 

The purpose for this change is to save production and shipping costs. It also simplifies our packing process, reducing the number of magazine versions from three to two (with staples, and without). We welcome your feedback about this change.

In issue 50, we are featuring an ad for the book Get Free and Stay Free by David Lewis, published by Yokefellowship Prison Ministry of Penn, PA. This book contains interviews with inmates whose reentry has been successful by the grace of God. It is only available for purchase on Amazon.com. However, Chaplains and DOC staff can request free copies at ypmsean@gmail.com.

Issue 51

The theme of our next issue is the concept of Separation. Jesus ushered in the Kingdom of God in a new way, and His followers repeatedly spoke of themselves as strangers, pilgrims, and citizens of heaven.

Our goal is for Christians to understand themselves as part of the special people that God has called to live a life of holiness, in contrast to the world around us. As Christians, it is important for us to “Come out from among them and be separate.” The lines between light and darkness should be clear—even in prison, and maybe especially so.

Thanks to each of you so much for helping to build the kingdom of God through your support of our work. We could not continue without you. May God richly bless you in the coming year.

—Michael Fisher, Manager of Operations

Nov 08

October 2023 Loaves & Fishes Report

News

Too Small to Matter?

If you are like me, there are times you wonder if what you do each day makes any difference in this world. 

For example, I can do a great job mowing the lawn, but the grass just keeps growing. If I paid all the bills this morning, by tonight more will have arrived. And if I was the best parent in the world today, I will still need to take care of my child tomorrow! Do the things I do make any difference?

People have struggled with feeling insignificant for all of earth’s history. In Zechariah 4:10, God asked the question, “Who has despised the day of small things?” Can small things make an eternal difference?

Jesus says, “Yes!” In Matthew 10:42, Jesus promises an eternal reward to anyone who gives a child a cup of cold water to drink if they do it because of a desire to serve and obey God. 

What is a cup of cold water? I would like to think of giving a cup of cold water as doing a little more than is required of us. As a parent, I need to give my child something to drink. However, I can choose to take the time to put an ice cube in their water rather than give them the lukewarm water that was on the table all day. Jesus promises us a reward if we do more than we need to because we want to obey Him.

The ministry of Lighthouse Publishing is only possible because of many people who give. Some people give funds, some pray for the work, some write articles, some process mail, and some distribute magazines. Thank you to each one that contributes! Even if you feel your part is small, we need you. As we work together many souls are encouraged to continue walking with Jesus, and this makes a difference for eternity!

—Stephen Lauver, Treasurer

Issue 50 Update

In the next issue of Loaves & Fishes, the theme will be the Church. In prison, church takes on a different shape from what it is on the outside, and yet the principles remain the same. The Church is the body of Christ, and wherever even a few believers gather together, Jesus promised to be present. This includes the cells, dorm rooms, and gathering places of the prisons and jails of our nation.

The Church in prison has an identity and a mission. Our goal is to stir our readers to become enthusiastic participants in the Church of Jesus Christ. Our “Persevering in Prison” column for this issue attempts to do this by describing one of the blessings of the body of Christ in Prison: diversity.

One thing is certainly true of prison: There are all different types of people in here, from all walks of life. This can make living in prison difficult because we have to learn to always respectfully and sometimes delicately coexist with people we would have never interacted with on the outside.

This diversity, however, can be a positive. In 1 Corinthians 12:12-30, Paul gives us the illustration of the Church as the body of Christ. Because of the diversity within such a close proximity, prison is perhaps the best place for us to see the entire body in action. 

On the street, Christians tend to cluster. If you walk into a church, you will usually see a group composed of mostly the same race and very similar doctrinal positions, all separated by geographic lines. In prison, we are all thrown into the same place. In this way, we go from a very small mirror with which we can try to see the body of Christ on the outside to a full-length mirror in prison.

What do we see when we look into that mirror? Believers of all sorts of differing personalities, races, denominations, crimes, talents, and spiritual gifts. But even though we see the individual parts, we recognize them as all belonging to the same body. Being part of the same body, we have to learn to interact and take care of one another. The question is, how do we do this in the prison setting?

The writer, a Christian believer currently in prison, goes on to advise our readers about practical ways to build the Church while incarcerated. If believing inmates can envision themselves as being part of the body of Christ, imagine how this can energize their Christian walk!

We expect to be able to ship issue 50 out to our readers and distributors by December, which will meet our current schedule of 3 issues per year. The cost of printing and shipping our last magazine issue was $32,500. We have a current bank account balance of around $21,000, which means we have about 65% of the funding needed to publish the next issue.

It is humbling to see the support of our donors for yet another magazine project. With your continued support, we will continue to work to bring the teachings of the Christian faith to believers in prison. Thank you so much for your generosity.

—Michael Fisher, Manager of Operations

Reader Feedback

Hello Loaves & Fishes magazine, I am currently serving my first term in prison. I am waiting to be shipped out to my next destination. A brother of mine here in reception got me and brought me back to Jesus Christ. I was going down the wrong path, but I’ve been saved. I have a son and a family that loves me waiting at home. So I’m reaching out to please ask if you guys have a Bible you can send me. I’m also asking to take part in free Bible correspondence courses for inmates. Please, and thank you.

—Rafael Soto, HDSP, Susanville, CA   

Distributor Feedback

We have a weekly Bible study, and Loaves & Fishes magazine helps engage inmates in the Word until the next Bible study. It is good to see that growth happening.

—Mr. Will Clark, Oakley, KS

Men and women have told me that the articles are very inspirational, and they like the puzzles.

—Chaplain Rev. Duane Stanton,  Stanton, MI

The Bible studies have helped the men to know their Bibles more. The testimonies have let them see they are not the only ones to have gone through things.

—Chaplain’s Office, CCF, Collins, NY

Sep 11

August 2023 Update: Choices!

News

Choices

How old were you when you made your first choice? I certainly have no recollection of that event in my life. I’m sure that it was very early in my childhood. Maybe it was a choice about what I was willing to eat. Maybe it was a choice on whether I would obey my parents and go to bed when I was told. Whatever that first choice was, I don’t believe it has affected me adversely. But as we age and mature, we constantly must make choices on issues of increasing importance, and the ripple effect of those choices will directly affect the trajectory of our life. 

I’m sure if you interviewed anyone that is currently incarcerated, they could tell you about a small choice that they made that directly led to them being imprisoned. For example, many people who have been convicted for embezzlement didn’t start their life of crime by embezzling large sums of money. Many times, they had personal financial problems, and took their organization’s funds with every intention of repaying. But that first choice was only a gateway, and they found themselves dipping into the organization’s funds with greater regularity and ever-increasing amounts until the time when their crime was exposed. Most of those people regret that first wrong choice, and had they known where it would take them, they probably would have made a different choice. 

Choices are always that way. The choices I made yesterday impact my decisions today, and today’s decisions will directly impact the decisions I will have to make tomorrow. There is no such thing as an insignificant choice when it comes to following Jesus and living with integrity. I need to be willing to analyze the choices that I am making, and if they are leading me away from Jesus and his way of life, I must make a conscious decision to change my choices. Just like Joshua said to the children of Israel, I must “choose today whom I will serve.” It is my choice, no one else’s. 

This is our mission at Lighthouse Publishing. We supply free discipleship tools to those that are in prison, helping them to continue to choose to live the way that Jesus taught. Many of them have very few people in their lives who can help to mentor them in making proper choices. We strive to give our incarcerated readers a valuable resource that can help them make right choices regarding their walk with Jesus and how that walk should impact their everyday lives.  

We can’t do this ourselves. Each one of you that makes the choice to join us, whether by choosing to give funds, time, prayer support, or distribution of the magazine, is an integral part of us fulfilling our mission. We are grateful for the choice you made, and we are blessed to have you with us!

—Wendell Martin, Board Chairman

Issue 49 Shipped

By the time you receive this newsletter, Loaves & Fishes issue 49 will have shipped to our readers. We ran about a month behind schedule with this issue, the second one of this year, but very generous recent donations have allowed us to get this issue out with a surplus amount of funds to put toward our next issue. We sincerely appreciate our donors. Part of the purpose of this newsletter is to share with you how much your gifts mean to our readers and distributors.

Our current circulation is around 75,000 copies, with about 2,300 of these being single copy subscriptions and the rest going to bulk distributors. Our cost to print issue 49 was $23,821.31, and we project postage costs to be around $9,000. Including the cost of additional copies ordered for inventory, our total cost to print and ship this issue is around $32,800. The average cost of each printed and mailed magazine is 41¢. This is up from 24¢ just three years ago, which reflects how inflation has impacted our costs.

With our current publishing schedule of three issues per year, the time between published issues may sometimes extend as long as 4-6 months. If you are a distributor and find yourself running low between issues, we invite you to contact us and order extra copies. We have an inventory of back issues. Please feel free to take advantage of these while supplies last.

While our donors make financial investments in our work, we are keenly aware that our distributors make investments of time and energy. We sincerely appreciate what you do! We think of your daily work and pray that God will bless and reward you for your service.

Issue 50

For our final issue of the year, which we hope to publish later this fall, we will address the topic of the Church. The Church is the body of Christ on earth. The idea for the Church’s existence comes from God. It exists where Christians are gathered, including prisons. It is a place where Christian discipleship happens, and where Christ shines out as the Light of the World. It is the Bride of Christ!

Please partner with us in prayer as our editor and writers ponder how this issue can be made relevant and inspiring to our readers. We want to see God’s kingdom expand in the prisons. Your support in prayer, giving, and distribution of Loaves & Fishes can be a part of this effort.

—Michael Fisher, Manager of Operations

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