November 2018 Newsletter
A Word From Our Director ~ Pastor Andrew Pistone
When I came to Odessa nearly five years ago, my brother, Joel Pistone, took me to visit some prisoners who were in jail in Tarrant County, Texas. I was so impressed with his ministry there, and with the worship service which he held in a packed room, that I also decided to start a prison ministry through the Door of Hope Mission. I don't talk much about it, but I would like to ask you for your prayers for these people who are incarcerated, and also for me – that God would guide my words as I speak with them.
I met a prisoner named Frank when I visited the jail that first time. Below is his exact written testimony of what God has done in his life.
Greetings brothers and sisters in Christ. My name is Frank. I'm currently in the Texas Prison System, and because of security restrictions I cannot give more details. However I will express my love for Pastor Andrew who has been and continues to be a blessing in my life and I'm sure yours as well.
This newsletter has reached your hands by the grace of God and time dedicated to print and mail out to those whom God has placed in the life of our very own Pastor Andrew.
This newsletter is also for those on the outside “society”. It is necessary that you become aware that your love and support for Door of Hope Mission reaches souls within these deep dark prison walls. Your illuminating light of love has given Jesus Christ to people like me, whom society has rejected and cast aside.
Three and a half years ago, I was in High Security Segregation in Tarrant County Jail for choking and wanting to hurt another prisoner for his charge. I was in a deep dark place mentally, spiritually, and physically at that moment in my life…I hated the world, everyone around me especially myself. I was angry and bitter because I didn't know how to help myself, yet wanted so desperately to be set free. I was tired of hurting people around me, it's as if I was controlled by a spirit of destruction. Everything I touched I destroyed.
I was in jail again for assault. I cried out to a God I didn't know, afraid to say the name Jesus Christ. I was a Muslim and was not satisfied with my life or religion, and in vain for 17 years I worshiped a god who did not love me.
You may be asking how could a Mexican/white male be Muslim. Well, it's true. In 1999 me and my girlfriend baby mama converted to Islam. I wasn't raised in church like most people so I didn't know who Christ was. I honestly believed in my heart I was serving God. If I recall correctly I was one of two Mexican males who embraced Islam in Texas in 1999. We were the only Mexican Muslims in Texas. I'll speak more on that later.
While in jail I was so bored that I would do anything to get out of the tank. A beautiful, joy filled older individual would stand at the bars and speak Spanish inviting “us” Mexican men to join him in Bible studies and watch a movie…I went for the movie. Yet while there I experienced something strange to me. Men who are Mexican, many illegal pouring out their hearts baring their souls one to another crying out to Jesus Christ. My heart was pierced, I cried too…If you knew me, you would know I don't cry!! It was the purity of souls crying for forgiveness, seeking solace from a God who they knew loved them yet fell short of His expectations for them. I never experienced anything like that in my life. My prayers to “Allah” Muslim god, were filled with bitterness, hatred, death and destruction to any and all who would oppose Islam. I never prayed for anyone, I was actually forbidden to pray for unbelievers thinking they were fuel for the Hell fire.
In the center of it all was Joel Pistone glowing like an angel praying and crying for these men. I didn't say anything once the study was over. I went back to my tank and tried to understand what was happening to me. I felt guilty, confused and suspicious. I thought these Christians were doing witchcraft on me. I fought and dismissed the experience as an emotional hype.
Yet once again I found myself at the Bible study. Every week for the next month I would attend just to learn more of this Jesus and His love. I actually began and led a Bible study during that month just so I could figure out what was going on with me. Then I met my lawyer who promised me 2 years at first then went to 20. This is when I began to feel as if I had offended Allah for not being faithful to Islam and that I was being punished. I immediately begged for forgiveness and left the Christian people alone.
This is when I started fighting again with myself, others, and officers, and how I ended up in Super Max Segregation in the County Jail. I was so bad that I could only get visits via a satellite screen on wheels rolled up to my door. I saw other inmates around me cut themselves and crying all night wanting to die.
One day as I sat there in my dark dungeon of a concrete and steel cell, I was told I had a visit. I thought it was my Mom, but by the grace of God it was Joel Pistone and Pastor Andrew. I was so lonely and starved for any social communication I welcomed them wholeheartedly. They told me they loved me, and cared about me. That Jesus has a plan for my life, I became angry yet didn't show it. I wanted nothing to do with Jesus!!! So, being who I was (a minister, teacher, and leader of Islam,) I challenged Pastor Andrew to correspond with me because I was going to prison, and if he loved me like he said he did - he would write me, but my motive was to destroy his faith and convert him to Islam.
Please don't judge me, I was lost and believed I was serving the true God. After five and a half months, Pastor Andrew wrote me and we began corresponding, but I felt a conviction and started wanting to actually hear more of Christ, and the truth is - I desperately needed and wanted to be loved. Pastor Andrew continued to love me and via phone ministered to me.
I finally on October 25th, 2015, I confessed Christ as my Lord and Savior. I was threatened by the Islamic community yet began to look for help with my Christian brethren. I was being beaten up by Satan mentally. I felt guilty for confessing Christ, my brothers of Islam were hurt and offended and I felt shame. But because of the prayer support and love of a very few loyal true Christians, I stayed true to my confession.
Here it is, three years later and I have grown so much and have led one Muslim to Christ, and one Satanic worshiper to Christ. I currently work as a prayer warrior leader in the Chapel of Peace here at Eastham unit. I've also ministered to officers who are Muslim. I'm currently working on my second college degree with Lee College.
I've felt called to come and parole at the Door of Hope Mission. I've earned an associate of Applied Science Degree in Culinary Arts. Even when I asked Pastor Andrew if I could parole there he said yes, and I said I want to come and offer the brothers and sisters there homemade wholesome meals. All I want to do is serve you all. I love Pastor Andrew like a “spiritual” father and asked him to grow me in Christ. I'm a skilled carpenter and can go home to my sisters and make lots of money, yet have chosen to come to the Door of Hope and give you all the same love Christ has given me through Pastor Andrew, even when he made it clear “Frank, I can't pay you.”
What's my point in all of this? Well, it's simple. Pastor Andrew has taken a few prisoners under his wing and loves them. Technically I am involved in prison ministry here and it's important for those on the outside to know that your & my pastor is changing lives behind bars. I know in my soul that I would (NEVER) have made it this far without his love and support. So I proposed an idea specifically dealing with the men on the inside (prison) if I could start a newsletter for us. That's the desire I have, and when I didn't want to do it like I heard God said to do, I suffered.
This is the cornerstone of my first attempt at beginning the prison newsletter. I will soon send a letter addressed to the few brothers in Christ who are incarcerated and encourage you all not to give up hope.
Facelift From “Weidner Cares”
Approximately two months ago, I received a phone call from Brenda Huffty at Weidner Apartment Homes. She wanted to tour our Mission – to see if our facilities could use a facelift. Their company has a program called “Weidner Cares.” They have a team of people who devote a full day of manual work to assist a non-profit in whatever way is needed, and they perform these services at no charge for organizations all over the country.
Needless to say, I was reservedly overjoyed, because our building is 30 years old, and a renovation would be excellent. I say “reservedly” because they choose from many non-profit organizations, and I was guessing that the chances of us being chosen – were slim.
Brenda Huffty and Jim Clary visited us and we gave them a tour of our building. A couple of weeks later, Casey Robertson - from their corporate office in Washington State, also called and set a time to visit us here at the Mission. When we met this time, we shared our
vision and our heart - and they shared theirs. We had a wonderful time of fellowship.
I told them of the countless phone calls we receive where women and children do not have a safe place to go, and how our facilities are not set up for housing them. I told them that we have a large room upstairs that we could use, if it were remodeled.
Praise the Lord that the Weidner Company chose us this year to be the recipient of their services. “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Here are several before and after pictures to give you an idea of what an enormous blessings this was.
There were 100 men and women - employed by Weidner Apartment Homes - who came to work all day long. They even brought a catering service to feed all of the Weidner employees, and our guests at the Mission too.
WE ARE THANKFUL!!!
WE HAVE A LOT MORE PHOTOS, PLEASE EMAIL US AND WE WILL SEND THEM TO YOU
Funds / Donations Needed
Your financial support will help us provide hot meals, a safe place to sleep and shower, and exposure to the truth of God's Word through Bible study and counseling to those who struggle with addictions. Many come to know Jesus as Savor because of the work God is doing here at the Mission.
There are a few ways you can give:
#1: PayPal Giving Fund:100% of what your gives goes to the Mission. Paypal does not keep a processing fee when you use this service. If you would like to make a direct financial donation you can go to the PayPal at the link below.
#2: Use our Website http://www.doorofhopemission.com/donate.html
#3: Mail a Check to Door of Hope Mission PO Box 1789, Odessa, TX 79760
#4: When you Shop at Amazon or Ebay, just add us as your preferred charity, and a portion of your purchase will go to the Door Of Hope Mission.
With Amazon: Visit to Amazon Smile www.smile.amazon.com, then login to your account then you need to select Door Of Hope Mission Odessa TX so we will receive donations from eligible purchases when you shop.
If you have any questions please call us 432-337-8294.
The Door of Hope Mission is supported 100% by DONATIONS and our thrift store. We do not take money from the government because they would restrict us from preaching about the freeing power of Jesus to those we help.
All donations are tax deductible.
DOOR OF HOPE THRIFT STORE UPDATE
We are in need of good furniture and antiques that you might want to donate to our ministry, and of course - we continue to take ALL donations with grateful hearts. We could not do this without your help.
We can also accept cars, trucks, RVs and boats.
If you have items you wish to donate, please drop them off at the store. If you need us to pick them up, please call the Mission at 432-337-8294.
We invite you to come and visit the Door of Hope Thrift Store. We are located at 1611 E. 8th Street, Odessa, TX 79761.
Our hours for shopping are Monday - Saturday from 9:00 am – 7:00 pm.
Please visit us on Facebook : www.Facebook.com/DoorOfHopeThriftStore
All donations are tax deductible.
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A CHRISTIAN MISSION