Tom Papania's Blog

Tom's Blog on Prison Ministry, Gods Saving Grace and Mafia redemption

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

June-July 2008 Summertime

Hello Saints,Summertime is here already, the kids are out of school, vacations are being taken, or maybe cancelled because of the economy and rise in gasoline prices, but we are rolling right along. Praise God!

As for my book, we are currently proof-reading it to make sure there aren't any grammatical errors or other errors, then, it goes to print. Praise God for brother Michael , who has taken it upon himself to see this finally come to completion! It is a miracle how God has brought just the right people together to make this a reality. Without Dr. Steve Best and Michael, I'd still be in the writing and wishing stage.[1 Corinthians 12:12-13]Within a month I'll be able to make the book available on the ministry website and wherever I travel to speak.
Since the last newsletter, one of the places I've traveled to, is Oklahoma, to speak at my good friend, Pastor Derek Melton's church. Pastor Derek started out as a Policeman and eventually was promoted to Detective. Pastor Derek always had a soft spot in his heart for young people from broken homes, who were addicted to drugs or alcohol, or just in and out of trouble. He hated seeing them on the streets totally unloved, abandoned by their own families. He struggled when his job called for him to arrest these kids. He began a small ministry to help these kids a few years ago, and it has blossomed into something beyond his wildest imagination. He now has his own church and 50% of his congregation is made up of these young people who are either in Juvenile Detention Centers or in State owned facilities. Some of them are also graduates of these facilities.

The Police Officers escort these young people, both male and female to Pastor Derek's church during the midweek and on Sundays. You can see how much he loves these kids, and they love him just the same. I can't remember receiving so many hugs as I did in his church from these young people. It brought tears to my eyes to know these kids were being loved exactly how God would want them to be loved, and God Himself became the father these kids never had. [Matthew 19: 13-15]
Pastor Derek was also looked upon as a father figure to these young people. It was a tremendous blessing the short time I was able to spend with all of them and Pastor Derek.
My next trip was in March and back to Australia I went. Pastor Robert Albano, invited me and made all the necessary arrangements for me to speak at many different churches, in a few different areas of Australia in the 3 weeks I was there. At the end of those 3 weeks I was told over 800 people had made first time commitments!!! Hallelujah!! Praise God!

I also had a very unusual dinner meeting, while I was there. A few years ago I received an E-mail from a Christian woman who had been praying and ministering to one of the bosses of an organized crime family in Melbourne, Australia. She told me she shared my testimony with him and he was very interested in meeting me. In the past 3 years it was either my scheduling, or his, that prevented us from meeting. This last trip I read in the newspaper that he had traveled to Singapore trying to help some people get their money back who were swindled in some business deal, so I thought, once again, we would not be able to meet. But, God works in mysterious ways, and this man returned back to Australia earlier than planned, and a dinner meeting was arranged.
Pastor Robert joined me, and as we were approaching the restaurant where we were told to meet, we saw crowds of people around this man kissing his cheek (an Italian thing showing a sign of respect and also fear) and Pastor Robert was a little reluctant about meeting him. But when we approached him, he kissed my cheek and Pastor Roberts cheek as a sign of respect to us. We sat down and had some very interesting conversations. Of course he was familiar with a lot of the people from my past, but was also interested in the ministry work I was doing. He was also very interested in Pastor Robert's church and an event that Pastor Robert told him about that was going to take place in a few weeks and he agreed to go there. Praise God!

Afterwards Pastor Robert said he was amazed at how gentle and pleasant this man seemed to be, after he had read so many bad things about him in the newspapers for years. I believe Pastor Robert is going to be very instrumental in speaking into this man's life. I know they have been in touch with one another after I returned home and I'm waiting to see what develops. I'm intentionally not mentioning his name, because I know he is not in a position right now to be this vulnerable among his peers.
In other news, I may be moving to Florida within the next few months. I've been offered a few opportunities in jails and prisons in Florida and other areas of ministry. Florida also has a lot more bikers because of the weather there. If I do make the move, my volunteers will carry on the jail and prison ministry here, while I expand this ministry to Florida. The ministry name will still be the same, but the mailing address will be changed to a P.O. Box in Florida.
I'm actually looking forward to this move for more than ministry reasons. After my recent divorce I have no family here in Georgia, and no strong ties to keep me here. I recently celebrated my 64th birthday and am so thankful that God has sustained me for all these years. I will be starting fresh with new surroundings, new people, a new church and new jails and prisons to minister in. The place I'm moving to is less than 15 minutes from a major airport, so my schedule won't have to change at all.
Before I make the move, I'll be traveling to Pennsylvania in the middle of June, and Kentucky in July to minister. I will probably move in August , and in September I'll be going to a different part of Kentucky to minister once again.
I want to thank all of you that have been praying for me, and have continued to help finance this ministry. In spite of the economy, your generosity continues to keep this ministry going forward. Your prayers are also getting me through this rough emotional period of my life. Without prayers, I doubt any ministry or person could exist during the trials and tribulations of life. It shows the love of God we have for one another especially in times of sorrow and mourning.
It's easy to praise and thank God when everything is going smoothly, but I've learned to praise him through the good and bad times and the in-between times, even though it's a struggle to do that sometimes. I often read what Job went through and it encourages me that Job never stopped praising God in spite of all that was happening to him. [Job 42:1-2]I would never compare myself to Job, I'm just using him as a point of reference.
I pray all of you will have an extremely blessed summer, and humbly ask that you will continue to lift myself and this ministry up in prayer. I pray that God will provide all your need according to His riches in glory in spite of the recession we are in here in the United States.
With a drought all over the country, foreclosures reaching record numbers, and so many diseases and famine and killings occurring around the world, it's great to know we serve a God who still sits on the throne and is still in control and He watches over us and will never leave us orforsake us. [Hebrews 13:5-6]