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  • Writer's pictureAlong Side Ministries

A Shattered Life... But this Thanksgiving he's counting his blessings!

Updated: Dec 6, 2021

November 2021

What’s on your list?

I imagine you may bow your head on Thanksgiving Day ... Maybe tears will even come to your eyes, as you think about how God has provided for you... What kind of blessings will you be counting?

I imagine — I hope — your list isn’t anything like Mark Lowe’s:

Thank you, God, that my suicide-by-cop plan didn’t work.

Thank you, Lord, that you didn’t let me die when I overdosed.

I’m grateful, Lord, that you let me go to prison, if that’s what it took to shake cocaine.

Father, I’m thankful, at the age of 58, to have new life in your Son Jesus.

Mark’s list of blessings — extreme rescues, divine interventions — is actually way longer. He has a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving...

He was a champion wrestler in high school — Amateur Athletic Union champion, county champion, state champion. But in one tournament, he injured his shoulder, and his entire career was cut short. Mark was devastated.

He turned to alcohol. Alcohol led to marijuana. Then it was pills. Harder and harder drugs. As the years passed, he managed to function — he had a wife and two young sons, and a job — but slowly, his addiction took more and more control.

Eventually his marriage collapsed; his family fragmented. He found himself alone and looking for a way out.

“I was sick of my life,” he recalls. “Hurting people, hurting my family, hurting myself. I was just sick. I didn’t want to live.”

One night he overdosed in a motel room — but survived. Twice he tried to stage “suicide by cop” — setting up a situation where a police officer would shoot him dead — at one point using a hammer to attack five officers. But both times, he was cut down by a Taser, not a gun — and Mark was disappointed to survive yet again.

He was lost, broke, depressed, but his addiction wouldn’t let him rest. He needed money. So he found a toy gun at a bus stop and demanded cash from a stranger at an ATM. The desperate attempt landed him in prison — doing 15 years for armed robbery. His life was literally going nowhere...

But over the years, as Mark was moved around in the Arizona prison system, again and again he heard inmates talking about something called Along Side Ministries. “God kept planting the seed,” he says today.

We had the joy of welcoming Mark into our ministry program when he had three years to go on his sentence. He attended our prison chapel services and meetings faithfully. A mentor began working with him every week. Even when the pandemic made in-person visits impossible, the two stayed in touch consistently online.

Mark was astonished by the love and care. And he was thrilled to be learning how to walk with God, and with godly values. “Along Side has taught me how to be in community,” he says. “They have taught me how to love my fellow brothers ... how to really become more other-focused ... to take my eyes off myself and think about others.”

After decades of life squandered in sin, Mark is still amazed by one breakthrough discovery: “I have something to offer to somebody!”

When Mark isn’t in class working on his commercial driver’s license, he’s constantly lending a hand to his peers, making himself useful to staff and providing an encouraging word.

When you count your blessings this Thanksgiving, I hope you’ll add this one: “Lord, thank you for using me to see the lives of Arizona inmates and ex-offenders TRANSFORMED by your love, through my support of Along Side Ministries.”

This is the beautiful, proven-powerful, destiny-shaping work that I invite you to contribute to again today. Would you please give a joyous gift of Thanksgiving ... a gift of gratitude to God for the blessings in your own life ... a gift that will bless someone behind bars, or someone recently released — someone like Mark, who’s only been on the outside a few weeks, as I write these words?

And this month, your gift makes twice the difference!

▶︎ You read that right. Some close friends have agreed to MATCH every gift made to Along Side Ministries – up to $60,000! That means your gift of $25 becomes $50, $100 doubles to $200, and $500 instantly becomes $1,000 ready to help an inmate or an ex-convict like Mark at exactly the right moment.

Your generosity today will empower all of our work with the prison population, disciplining and equipping the incarcerated Christians to transition successfully into the community. You’ll provide mentoring, counseling, Bible study, accountability, fellowship, life skills training, help finding work and lodging, and the list goes on!

• And with the Arizona Charitable Tax Credit, you can receive a dollar-for-dollar credit (not just a deduction) against your state tax liability, as you give to Along Side Ministries today: up to $400 if you file singly, or $800 filing jointly. This means you can essentially give — and change lives, by the power of God’s love — for FREE!

But whatever you do, I hope you’ll respond quickly. Every day, people behind bars need the kind of blessing you can share today. Thank you in advance! God bless you!

Yours in Christ,

Ken Sheets

Executive Director

P.S. For every 3 inmates released from Arizona prisons, 2 will go back in. But Along Side graduates like Mark are a different story: 92% who get out stay out. It’s God who does the work ... but it’s you who sets it all in motion.

Every morning, Mark says, he chooses God as his King all over again. It’s a commitment he learned through the unique ministry of Along Side Ministries. His life is new. Please give the gift of new life (and DOUBLE it!) to another member of the Arizona prison population as you count your blessings today. Thank you again! And I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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