Carmen Ministries' Newsletter
Issue: 2014December 2014
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A Message from Executive Director, Anthony Wood

 

Mr. Anthony Wood
Anthony Wood, AKA "Pops" or "Dad" to many of our young men

Friends of Carmen Ministries,

 

The year 2014 proved to be another challenging time. Despite these challenges, we continue to spread God's love through our work. Praise God! Twenty-six (26) men "surrendered" their hearts to the Lord after a Bible study at Mountainview Correctional. And by the grace of God and the help of our wonderful donors, Carmen Ministries was able to orchestrate the following Christmas programs and activities.

  • The Carmen Ministries Christmas Card Program delivered 150 packages each containing five stamped cards to inmates.
  • The Christmas Party at the Juvenile Center has been fully funded, including generously donated gifts for our young men from Under Armour, Inc.
  • Various churches and private citizens donated gift cards, so Christmas gifts will be given to the children of inmates.

We continue to give thanks for His love and support and wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very happy and blessed New Year! God bless and stay encouraged. God is always with you!

  
Yours in Christ,

Anthony Wood

CEO and Founder, Carmen Ministries

Note: Carmen Ministries utilizes the leadership principles of the military Special Forces, i.e., Navy SEALs, in their ministry to develop Christian character in their men. This newsletter contains two articles containing military principles.

 

(See below "The Company You Keep" and "Live Lessons from a Navy SEAL")

The Company You Keep 

 

General Colin Powell

The following inspirational quotes have been attributed to former Secretary of State, General Colin L. Powell. General Powell reminds us to surround ourselves with positive people and to take care as we move forward in our lives. 

 

"The less you associate with some people, the more your life will improve. Any time you tolerate mediocrity in others, it increases your mediocrity. An important attribute in successful people is their impatience with negative-thinking and negative-acting people. As you grow, your associates will change. Some of your friends will not want you to go on. They will want you to stay where they are. Friends that don't help you climb will want you to crawl. Your friends will stretch your vision or choke your dream. Those that don't increase you will eventually decrease you.

 

Consider this: Never receive counsel from unproductive people. Never discuss your problems with someone incapable of contributing to the solution, because those who never succeed themselves are always first to tell you how. Not everyone has a right to speak into your life. You are certain to get the worst of the bargain when you exchange ideas with the wrong person. Don't follow anyone who's not going anywhere.

 

With some people you spend an evening; with others you invest it. Be careful where you stop to inquire for directions along the road of life. Wise is the person who fortifies his life with the right friendships. If you run with wolves, you will learn how to howl. But, if you associate with eagles, you will learn how to soar to great heights."

 

"A mirror reflects a man's face, but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses."

 

The simple but true fact of life is that you become like those with whom you closely associate - for the good and the bad.

 

Note: Be not mistaken. This is applicable to family as well as friends. Yes... do love, appreciate and be thankful for your family, for they will always be your family no matter what. Just know that they are human first and though they are family to you, they may be a friend to someone else and will fit somewhere in the criteria above.

 

"In prosperity our friends know us. In adversity we know our friends."

 

"Never make someone a priority when you are only an option for them."

 

"If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little things. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude."

 

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God is With Me Always
 

The following is an excerpt from a testimonial written by one of the young men ministered by Carmen Ministries.

 

The Bible tells us, "Knock and the door will be opened to you, seek and you shall find."

 

Just twelve short months ago, I stood on the edge of absolute self-destruction. I lived my life without concern for others and with no regard for the consequences of my choices. I was driven by the worldly pursuits of personal gratification; I was a lost soul.

 

One sweat-soaked night, my body wracked with agony as every fiber of my soul screamed for death to take me, I reached into the deepest recesses of my stony heart, and I found the humility to fall to my knees. In all my bitterness, I had found my last seed of faith, and I cried out to God, "Please! I cannot endure this any longer. Please take my life." To my great disappointment, I was not struck down where I knelt.

 

The very next day I was freed from my spiritual prison and sent to a physical one, where I began the process of my redemption - where God restored my sanity and began to heal my mind, my body and my soul.

 

I firmly believe that God works through the relationships we build with others, and it is directly through the love that we share with one another that we gain a truer understanding of God's love for us. God placed one person in my life and it was because of this man's example of faith that I began to surrender to God's will completely. Tony, I'd like to thank you from the depths of my heart for being steadfast in your conviction to the Lord. It is because of your demonstrations of faith that a miracle took place in my life. When I finally let God into my heart, I became willing to learn again and my mind was opened to the limitless potential available to me.

 

Today I have hope in my life. I have come to know true love. I am no longer in bondage to sin, and it is only by His grace that I have found true freedom. Vigilant and constant faith will keep me free. I have come to believe that God is with me ALWAYS and in ALL WAYS. I know the truth is always available when I have an ear to listen and the courage to act.  

 

Plant Acts of Kindness

 

This is an excerpt from the book titled, "God's Little Devotional Book for Leaders" published by Honor Books in September 2001

 

"When we do the best that we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or the life of another."

 

"A Christian man was walking to church one night when he encountered four boys loitering on the street corner. He invited them to go to service with him. They did and each of the boys agreed to return to church with him the next Sunday. They became the nucleus of a Sunday school class the man began to teach.

 

Years later, a group of the man's friends decided to try to contact the four boys to see what had happened in their lives and to invite them to write a special letter to their teacher as a birthday surprise. Their letters revealed that one of them had become a missionary to China; one was the president of the Federal Reserve Bank; one was the private secretary to President Herbert Hoover; and the fourth was President Hoover himself!"

 

When you carry out acts of kindness and you are generous to others, you never know what might happen.

 

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Life Lessons from a Navy SEAL

 

U.S. Navy Admiral William H. McRaven is an alumnus of the University of Texas and Commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command who organized the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Admiral McRaven spoke at his alma mater's commencement last year. While the lessons recapped here are based on his military experiences, they apply to everyone. 

 

Start by making your bed. Every morning SEAL instructors show up in the barracks to inspect beds. Making a bed is a simple, mundane task but if you do it every day, you've already finished one task for the day. It gives you a small sense of pride and encourages you to continue. By the end of the day, that one simple job may turn into a very productive day. On the other hand, if you have a miserable day and nothing else gets done, at least you come home to a bed that you made and that gives you the encouragement that tomorrow will be better.

 

Find someone to help you paddle. During SEAL training, students are broken into boat crews of seven, three on each side and a coxswain, or navigator, to help guide the team. Every paddle must be synchronized to the stroke of the coxswain, exerting the equal effort in order for the boat to reach its destination. You cannot change the world alone; you will need help. To get you to your destination, you will need the help of family, friends, the good will of strangers and a strong coxswain to guide you.

 

Measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers. SEAL training crews are made up of many different sized people and varying strengths. One crew was the "munchkin crew" made up of no one over 5'5". The bigger guys would make good-natured fun of the "munchkin crew," but somehow these guys always had the last laugh - they outran and outswam the other larger, stronger crews. SEAL training, as is life, is a great equalizer. Nothing matters but your will to succeed.

 

Get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward. Uniform inspections occur several times a week in training. Uniforms are expected to be immaculate: hat perfectly starched; belt buckle gleaming; shoes shiny. Sometimes no matter how much effort you put forth, it just isn't enough. Inspectors find "something" wrong. The punishment for failed inspection is to run fully clothed into the water and roll around on the beach until every part of your body is covered in sand; you must stay this way for the rest of the day. It's known as being a "sugar cookie." No matter how well you prepare or how well you perform, you will still fail sometimes; you still end up as a sugar cookie. It's just the way life goes.

 

Don't be afraid of the circuses. Every SEAL training event has standards and if those rigorous standards are not met, which happens often, you are invited to a "circus." A circus is two additional hours of exercise designed to wear you down, break your spirit, and force you to quit. However, an interesting thing happens to those who consistently make the list: over time they grow stronger and stronger. In life you will fail; you will likely fail often. It will be painful and discouraging. It will test you to your very core but you cannot be afraid; you will be stronger in the end.

 

Don't back down from the sharks. To pass SEAL training, students must complete a series of long swims in shark-infested waters with one of the swims taking place at night. If a shark begins to circle, you stand your ground; you do not swim away. You do not act afraid. If the shark darts towards you, you summon all your strength and punch him in the snout. He backs down and swims away. There are a lot of sharks in the world. If you hope to complete your personal swim, you will have to deal with them head on.

 

You must be your very best in the darkest moments. Navy SEALs often conduct underwater attacks against enemy ships. Divers must swim down to the deepest part of the ship, the water being so dark you cannot see what is front of you. The noise from the ship is deafening. It is easy to get disoriented and lose your bearings. It is at this time - the darkest moments - when you must be calm and call on your physical power and inner strength to succeed.

 

Start singing when you're up to your neck in mud. During "Hell Week," training consists of six days of no sleep, constant physical and mental harassment and a day in the "Mud Flats" - a swampy patch of land engulfed by mud. SEAL units are ordered into the mud up to their necks. Chattering teeth and shivering moans are all that can be heard. Then there's one voice raised in song. That one voice becomes two and then three and before long the entire unit is singing. Somehow the mud seems a little warmer, the wind a little tamer and the sun not so far away. Remember, one person can change the world by giving people hope.

 

Don't ever, ever ring the bell. In SEAL training there is a brass bell that hangs in the center of the compound. Ring the bell and you no longer have to wake up at 5 a.m. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the freezing cold swims. Ring the bell and you no longer have to endure the hardships of training. To give up, just ring the bell.

 

Remember: Start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone. Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often. But if you take some risks, step up in tough times, facedown the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never give up, you will change the world.

  

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Excerpts from Letters from Our Young Men

Carmen Ministries mentors and touches the lives of so many young men though our teachings about Christ. These men look to us for spiritual, emotional and physical support. Below is a representative sampling of the continuous outpouring of pleas for love and thankfulness Carmen Ministries has received.

 

Thank you Carmen Ministries and Pops for being there for us at our lowest point in life. I love you Pops and thank you for bringing me back to the light and being our spiritual father.

 

It's a wild and crazy world behind these walls, but God makes it so peaceful for me inside my heart. I knew of God; I read His word, but I didn't know Him. I knew Jesus saves, but I tried to do it on my own. We can't save ourselves only God's son, Jesus, can. The strong in Christ will make it because of Jesus. I love you Dad.

 

I want to thank you again for training us brothers how to be leaders. I am hoping that I get ISP (Intensive Supervision Program), so I can go home and encourage my family and friends with God's words.

 

I appreciate the cards and the encouragement. It's something I never had before. Everyone was always too busy. Moreover Pop I'm focused and leaving the rest to the Lord. Peace be unto our Lord Jesus Christ!

 

I received your devotional from Charles Stanley entitled "How to Listen to the Voice of God." Thank you! It was a blessing. Thank you for your compassion and communication. May God bless you and your ministry abundantly!

 

I pray and it's like my heart just opens up. I never had this feeling before. I'm scared about court. I just want to get home to my kids; they need me. The sad thing is it took all of this to realize that. I still have a long road ahead of me, and I'm still fighting a lot of bad habits. I'm far from perfect and never will be, but I believe I'm doing the right thing. Dad, I don't know where I'm going, but I'm going to be OK. The Lord is with me.

 

I want to thank you for the books. They are truly enlightening and amazing, now I can truly say that I view life in a whole different light. 

 

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Ministry Sponsor: Hunterdon Business Services, LLC

Please patronize our ministry sponsor, Hunterdon Business Services, LLC. To contact Hunterdon Business Services, click here

  
In This Issue
A Message from Mr. Wood
The Company You Keep
God Is With Me Always
Plant Acts of Kindness
Life Lessons from a Navy SEAL
Excerpts from Letters from Our Young Men
Carmen Ministries' Mission
Inspiration for Our Boys
I Thank You - A Poem
Prayer Requests
Our Thanks to You
Support Carmen Ministries

Our Mission
To provide every youthful offender the opportunity to hear and respond to the Gospel, to grow in his or her relationship with Christ, and to become a responsible, contributing adult.
 
   
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Inspiration for our Boys

 


 
"And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men."

Colossians 3:23

 

"You came near when I called on you; you said, 'Do not fear!' You have taken up my cause, O Lord; you have redeemed my life."

Lamentations 3:57-58

 

"We must not anticipate better social and economic conditions until we have better men and women to institute and sustain those conditions."

"Atom-Smashing Power of Mind" By Charles Fillmore

 

"The Lord is looking tirelessly for a people who will overcome small mentalities, insecurities and fear to allow Him to take control."

"The Lost Art of Intercession" By Jim Goll


Carmen Ministries Info
PO Box 421
Hackettstown, NJ  07840
Tel: (908) 835-7805
Fax: (908) 835-7808

email: Tony@CarmenMinistries.org

Board of Directors
Executive Director/President: Tony Wood
Chairperson: Daniel R. MIller
Operations Director: James C. Hoyt
Vice President: Robert T. Dell Elba
Secretary Emeritus: Brian Hancock, Esq.

 

I Thank You 

A Poem by one of Carmen Ministries' young men

 

 

I thank you for your faithfulness

Oh holy, holy name I bless

Who raised the sun to be the light

The One who loves with all His might

 

Teach me what I can't forget

I'll take the path I won't regret

This life I live it to be true

Giving thanks and praising you

Glory, glory to the king

He's the reason that I sing

He whose word I've learned to trust

 

And do the things He says I must

Watching from His throne on high

He says He'll never pass me by

As I keep looking for His face

I am smothered with His grace. 

***

Prayer Requests 

Our young men pray:

 

- for my family and friends at home and for guidance throughout the rest of my journey

 

- for my loved ones and for God to keep me safe and watch over me and my family

 

- the Lord will bring me back to the right path if I go astray

 

- for my brother and his young daughters and that he comes back to God

 

- for me so that I may complete my program

 

- that God will bring my kids back into my life and that I may become a better father and role model to them.


Our Thanks to You


We would like to give a special thanks to those who contributed to Carmen Ministries this year. Carmen Ministries continues to face administrative challenges and obstacles but in spite of these, we are grateful to God for all He has given us. Below for a few excerpts from notes from our donors.

 

"I have been praying about the best place to give my tithe from singing and I feel in my heart that the "church" I am to be supporting is the ministry you have with these precious young men and teens. Tell them while I do not know them, they are prayed for and loved in Jesus and I am so glad to be a part of the ministry even from a distance."

 

"It was a pleasure hearing you give the sermon at our church. I was excited when you spoke of there being a wave of men, inspired by your work, who are ready to provoke change. Please accept this donation along with our thoughts and prayers for you and all of your "kids."


"In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."

1 Thessalonians 5:18

 


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Carmen Ministries is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization. Any donation to Carmen Ministries is fully deductible to the extent allowable by law.

Newsletter Note
Names of the incarcerated have been omitted to provide anonymity. Articles, interviews and letters may have been edited and condensed for use in this communication. Every effort has been made to preserve the original intent of the message.