From: KENNETH L MILLER (08464082)
DEC 3, 2015
Peace and blessings to each of you from Jesus Christ our Lord. It feels like a long time since I've seen most of you. It's been over eight months now. I miss you all today more than usual for some reason. But strangely, I'm content to be here. This is where God has me for now and I'm learning to be OK with it.
God has been exceptionally good to me the last while. That very difficult trip to Buffalo is fading into the past. My dear mother is with the Lord. I'm sad whenever I think about going back to the house and not seeing her there, but I have to say heaven is more attractive now, and that's good.
So many letters and cards keep coming in the mail, it's almost overwhelming to think about answering even some of them. The other day was a record; I think there were 24 pieces of mail. (Not quite all letters) I'm sorry that I haven't answered more of your letters recently. I hope to pick up letter writing in earnest again this week.
When I came back from Buffalo, I went to what is called "The Big Parking Lot." This is a dorm style room with 36 bunks. It stays mostly full. So there's a lot of movement and a lot of noise, including various nocturnal noises, and not much privacy. I was there about a month. Just this past week I was invited downstairs to one of the nicer rooms in the whole building. It's a six man cell, spacious (for in here) with lots of natural light as the room has two large windows facing south. (The ladies would despair about the hazy windows, but you get used to it.) The room faces the road and the visitor parking lot. So I can sit on my top bunk, look out the window, watch the traffic passing by on the road and see visitors come. It's not quite like sitting on the front porch, but it's a bit closer.
My bunkie is a good friend who's a former marine drill sergeant. He would fit the bill. Straightforward, to the point, and fearless. But I have to say I keep my bed made a lot better than he does his. I'll have to bring that point up sometime...Another one of my other cellies is a Cuban, appropriately named Fidel. (No relation to THE Fidel, as far as I know)
Since my bunkie and I are friends, we share food. Yesterday he shared some pizza that had been cooked over at the shop where I work. A piece of cardboard for the pizza pan, tortilla wraps overlapped for the crust, some sauce (ahem) taken from the kitchen (I don't do that) maybe some onion and peppers if you're lucky, three kinds of cheese and two kinds of meat bought from the commissary--and the whole thing is cooked to perfection with a HEAT GUN; The Petersburg Deluxe Pizza.
We have an old fashioned cast iron radiator in our room. When the heat is on, you can cook rice, make wraps and all kinds of other food on that radiator.
The man in the bunk next to me in the Big Parking Lot (where I had slept for a month) has a remarkable story. I'll call him Rick. He got a life sentence off "a drug deal gone bad." In that same drug deal he was shot in the head. The bullet went down beside his nose, down through his mouth and tongue, through his jaw and lodged in his throat. Doctors were trying to save his life and were just about to slice open his neck to try to find the bullet, when he suddenly sat up and coughed out the bullet! It took years of rehab before he could swallow well enough to eat regular food. Even so, the left side of his mouth is somewhat paralyzed, his swallowing is affected and he speaks with a severe rasp because half of his vocal cords are paralyzed. He's been behind bars for 14-15 years in the federal penitentiary, and has seen horrible things happen to people.
Rick got the shock of his life on Aug. 30 when he got a call from the White House counsel saying he'd gotten clemency from President Obama. He almost fainted and kept asking, "Is this real, is this real?" But it was real. He showed me the original letter signed by the President of the United States. He's being released on Dec. 28. Imagine! Going from a life sentence to four months overnight.
He has just a few more weeks left and I can't help but celebrate with him.
But isn't being release from the sentence of sin and death even much more cause for celebration?!!
Rick is going back to his hometown with no family support or anything. A friend has offered to put him up for thirty days in a room somewhere. After that, he's on his own. If you have any more questions about his situation, talk to Linda. Please pray for my good friend Rick, that God would keep him in His hand. I am very blessed to have met him.
Praise the Lord too, that I have my job back on the landscape crew. We've been moving topsoil with wheelbarrows a long distance, so I've gotten some good workouts. Right now the camaraderie there is quite good. I want to speak to more of my crewmates about the Savior--please pray for opportunities and open hearts.
Today we're having a birthday celebration for the birthdays of my two boys, Joshua and Johnny. I decided that while I can't be at home for their birthdays, they can't stop me from celebrating with my friends here. So we're cooking up food for about 10 fellows, deluxe tortilla wraps along with chips and sodas. And we are going to wish Joshua and Johnny very happy birthdays. And I am getting hungry since it's about 5:00 pm, and I didn't eat lunch.
Something to pray about: I feel led to propose a discipleship / mentoring ministry here for young believers similar to what we've done at Pilgrim in the Brotherhood Discipleship Groups, where fellow inmates disciple each other through the Word, prayer and confession. I know I've personally benefited immensely from this discipline it over the years. I think it's time to propose something like it here.
May God bless each of you all real good and may Christ's presence be very near as you gather on His day tomorrow.
Love and prayers,
Dear Friends in Jesus Christ,
Jesus still lead on
Till our rest be won
And although the way be cheerless
We will follow calm and fearless
Guide us by Thy Hand
To our Fatherland.
These words by Nicholaus Ludwig, the early Moravian leader, have long been precious to me. The last two months were among the most difficult of my entire life. Moving from prison to prison, spending long periods of time in shackles while in transport simply isn't fun. "Diesel therapy," they call it. After 8 moves and 7 institutions in 47 days, Richmond Hall here in good 'ole Petersburg never looked so good! I arrived back here at Petersburg Low a week ago on November 2.
In Buffalo I faced some excruciating decisions. But the grace of God from your prayers and the sweet counsel of my dear wife enabled me to make it through. Until negotiations between the U.S. prosecutors and another party are completed, I'm not free to comment much. But it appears unlikely that I will face further charges, praise God!
My dear mother, Salina (Kanagy) Miller passed from this life on Oct. 2 while I was being held in the Niagara County Jail. There was no way to make it to the funeral. I wept much during those days. Praise God I was able to speak with her the evening before she passed on. And I was able to phone in to the funeral service and listen to almost all of it. We felt God's comforting presence very strongly in the midst of the pain. My mother was a very godly woman who touched many people through her quiet influence. She loved Jesus and believed in His transforming power for all who come to Him. She was a faithful wife and loving mother for almost 56 years. I felt her support very strongly during the trials of the last 5 years.
While on the rec yard on day at Youngstown Ohio, I saw coming toward me a kind, bearded face. To my great surprise, it was Brother Timo Miller! We had a joyous meeting! We slept in different units, but for two days we were able to converse over meals and at the rec yard. Of course we didn't talk about the legal case, but we were able to comfort and exhort each other in the Lord and pray together. That was a huge encouragement to me!!
I met many men. I heard their fascinating and often tragic stories. Pray that the Kingdom Seed sown along the way would bear much fruit.
Let's also keep all those involved in this case in our fervent prayers.
Your brother in Christ,
His time on the witness stand came at about 3:45 Thursday afternoon. He came in, looking good in his suit, which was sent for the occasion. Because of matters of faith and conscience, Ken chose not to testify. The judge gave Ken due warning of the consequences for his decision. As a result, he was charged with civil contempt, and the judge indicated that the prosecution may charge him with criminal contempt at a later time. At this point, there is no sentence handed down for these charges. Ken will remain in the area for the duration of the trial.
Although we are disappointed with the ruling, we are confident that God is still ruling over all. As a church, we go in faith, and support each other in these difficult times.
The trial of Philip Zodhiates is starting now in Buffalo, NY. See http://christiannews.net/2016/09/20/jury-selection-begins-for-trial-of-second-man-accused-of-helping-ex-lesbian-flee-country-with-daughter/
Ken has been taken from his post at the Petersburg VA prison and is in Buffalo, where he will be required to testify. Here's what he said in the last update, " Three years ago I was found in civil contempt for not testifying, and jailed for 40 days The prosecutor has made it clear that refusal to testify this time could mean substantial time added to my present 27-month sentence." He wants very much to be a witness for truth and the kingdom. We do not know if he will be testifying in the public court or in a closed session. I just heard that he is on for Thursday, and I don't know what time.
Another brother from here is also being called to testify, and he is under some of the same stresses. His wife is expecting a baby anytime now, and of course he wants to be able to stay home with her, but it doesn't look like his request is being heard at this point. There are others who are being put on the witness stand again. All of these people need our prayers very much.
U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York
Buffalo, New York
Dear Friends in Jesus Christ,
This week's cooler weather has been a huge blessing. At the end of July, we experienced what fellow inmates have been warning me about almost since day one---the hot, humid Petersburg summer. We have no air conditioning in the housing units, except for the TV rooms and I don't go there. Indeed the dire predictions weren't far off the mark. On at least one day the heat index reached 110 degrees. Even the outdoor rec yard was shut down. At midnight the temperature in our unit was 94. By morning, it had dropped to a "bone-chilling" 89.
What did Jesus say it costs to follow Him? "...He that forsaketh not all that hath cannot be my disciple." In this stunning declaration, Jesus confronts us with an exchange that must be made: "Give up everything in your life in exchange for Me." What kind of exchange is that? Is it reasonable?
I propose it IS reasonable, the most reasonable thing in the world--provided we have a proper grasp of REALITY.
Let's start with people, those dearest to us-- father, mother, wife, husband, children, "yea and our own lives also."
Reality check: We can't hang onto anyone. The dearest person on earth to me can be taken away in a heartbeat. My own life is fragile, like a vapor, or like grass which is growing in the morning, withering by afternoon.
What about other things considered to be important: possessions, wealth, power, pleasure, fame? Is it reasonable to exchange these for Christ?
Reality check: Everything in the above list is visible, tangible, enjoyable---and extremely short-lived. Nothing lasts.
"He calls for me to leave all for His sake
Lands, houses, family, loves--
But His call is to leave what is only
an ILLUSION of security." (Martha Kilpatrick in "Adoration")
Nothing is truly secure, except one thing--the thing Mary had. "One thing is needful," Jesus said, "and Mary has chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her."
In a world of empty promises, delusionary dreams, transient relationships, we have a Rock that can't be taken away.
Tears filled my eyes recently when a young boy sent me a card with these words scrawled on the inside:
Oft upon the Rock I stand
Faint of heart and weak of knee
But the Blessed Rock of Ages
Never trembles under me.
Those who've found the Rock testify that yes, to leave all in exchange for that Rock is a reasonable option; in fact, it's the only option.
This is good for me to remember in right now. My family and I are in another period of uncertainty. I'm being called by the U.S. Attorney's office in Buffalo, N.Y. to prepare to testify at the trial of a fellow believer also charged in the case. Three years ago I was found in civil contempt for not testifying, and jailed for 40 days The prosecutor has made it clear that refusal to testify this time could mean substantial time added to my present 27-month sentence.
Please pray for wisdom and grace as I face these decisions.
In the meantime, life here at Petersburg has settled into a rhythm. Your prayers have helped my family and me so very much.
I meet men of all backgrounds. The other day I was introduced to "Fidel" from Cuba. Another gentleman of Eastern European descent said Mother Theresa was his great-great aunt. Thank you for your prayers for these men and all of us poor sinners here.
God gives us many wonderful glimpses into His goodness. A special blessing has been extra time to observe the bees and butterflies at work among the flowers we planted on the compound and watching our giant sunflowers grow to 11-12 feet. (I've never before paid this much attention to the common sunflower!)
In several places on the prison compound, petunias are growing up through the grass in areas where new soil was hauled in last year. I scavenged a bunch of them and trialed some in a bed. They look like Wave Petunias. "Thank you Lord, they're just what I was wishing for!" Hopefully we can collect seed (forgive me, Pan American Seed--patent owner) and plant them around the compound next year.
I've recently discovered another one of life's simple blessings. A heaping teaspoon each of Maxwell House instant coffee, cocoa powder, coffee creamer and a packet of sweetener stirred in with 3-4 oz of hot water from our 205 degree hot water dispenser topped the rest of the way with ice from the ice dispenser makes a mocha worth comparing to anything from Starbucks. I must confess it's become a daily habit.
As you can see, my life here isn't so difficult.
I'm reading through the Martyrs Mirror right now and am almost ashamed at how nice I have it compared to people in prison back then and many around the world right now.
On pg. 570-571 there's a touching account of a young man Algerius, who was executed for his faith by being scalded with hot oil, then burned to ashes at the stake. From his dismal prison dungeon he wrote a letter to his fellow brethren before he died. He testified of the unspeakable joy Christ brought to him in that terrible place. He closed the letter with: "Written in the most delightful pleasure garden of the prison, called Leonia, the 12th of July, A.D. 1557.
May the Christ he died for
The Christ we live for!
Kenneth L Miller 08464-082
Federal Correctional Complex
P.O. Box 1000
Petersburg, VA 23804