A Letter from Prison

Dear Grace Fellowship,

I am writing you from inside the Walla Walla state prison here in the State of Washington. I am 46 years of age and a first time offender. I am innocent of the charge of second degree assault that got me sent to this prison, but I praise the Lord Jesus that I ended up here in order to find Him in my life.

My background has been years of suffering from manic depression, bouts of schizophrenia, paranoia, obsessive thoughts, psychosomatic illnesses of extreme back pain, arthritis, skin rashes, itch, and just about every other symptom mentioned in Charles Solomon’s book, Handbook to Happiness.

Since 1965, when I had my first of many nervous breakdowns, I have long since forgotten the names of the countless psychiatrists and psychologists that I have sought out for help over the years. In two brief periods in 1974 and 1975 in mental institutions I was termed “gravely mentally disabled.” Since 1957, three marriages ended in divorce; nothing was lasting or continuous with my bouts of mental illness that destroyed everything I attempted to succeed at over the years. I was always seeking help for my depression in an attempt to straighten my life out.

Guilt, self-persecution, inferiority complex, insecurity, doubt, excessive worry, and extreme fear caused me to escape by sleeping and drinking my life away. I was at the end of my rope when I ended up here in prison June of last year. Total despair and shame led me to think only of suicide as a way to escape the torture and disgrace to myself and loved ones. My life was over, and I fell on my knees here in Cell 6F and asked our Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness for the mess I had made out of my life, for hurting myself, and for so many loved ones lost. One night at Chapel I came upon a book that caught my attention for some reason, Handbook to Happiness by Charles Solomon; I asked Christ to be the center of my life. I thank the Lord Jesus Christ for this book that gave me so much insight, and prepared me for what to expect these last six months. Without a doubt it is the finest book ever written for people like myself.

I received the gift of the [fulness of the] Holy Spirit, last October, and the struggle was long and hard for me as my old self refused to yield for long until I had no more strength or will to resist. Again, Mr. Solomon’s book prepared me for what to expect in the ups and downs daily so I never become overly discouraged, and just let go so the Holy Spirit, and Christ, could work at will with me.

In November, my wife left me for another man as she visited and saw the change in me and wanted no part of my new-found faith in Jesus Christ. She accused me of really going “crazy” this time. She had been my god for nine years and I worshipped her above all else. Our Lord prepared me for what to expect in my four hours of prayer and meditation on Him daily. I coveted her far too much in our marriage and was well aware of her total dislike for all Christians over the years we shared together. The loss of her in my life hurt deeply, and her negative letters to me these past few months have been like spears in my side, but I steadfastly refuse to give up my new-found love for Christ.

I accept on total faith that all things that are happening in my life since June are the will of Christ and in my prayers I praise Him for the suffering that has allowed me the freedom, and peace that passes all human understanding.[1]

The results of Christ’s work in me have been plentiful this past month. In his report on me a week ago Dr. Maneman, the head psychologist here at the prison, stated: “No manic-depressive symptoms or other mental illnesses apparent in Mr. M__________.” Praise the Lord! Gone is the guilt, self-persecution, insecurity, doubt, worry, and fear. As Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20, “…Yet not I but Christ liveth in me…” Also, I’ve reunited with a lost son whom I also love very much.

He is now a pastor in North Carolina and is sending me a large print Bible this week for my birthday. [I have] Joy and happiness daily for the first time in my life since I can remember. What a loving and wonderful Savior we serve!

Which brings me to the reason for writing you at this time. Our Lord, wants me to serve by helping others like myself find Christ in their lives to heal their “mental illnesses.” I have been spending my free time in the mental ward here but need to know so much more in order to serve at the best of my ability.[2]

I have been open and frank about writing my past history to you as I feel we are brothers in Christ and, therefore, not strangers. It is my desire that you use my testimony in this letter in any way that benefits the needs of Grace Fellowship International along with its founder, Dr. Charles Solomon, whose book became my roadmap, and eased so much of the struggle in allowing Christ total control in my life. May the Lord’s blessings surround him and all associated with Grace Fellowship.

Warmest regards from a prisoner of Jesus Christ,



[1] “Again, my gratitude to Mr. Solomon’s guiding book that has helped me so much to keep my mind set in the groove I choose to follow daily.”

[2] “If … Grace Fellowship accepts prisoners I would like all the information you could send me on correspondence courses to become, in time, a spiritual counselor with certification as the main goal. I am to be released in two and a half years, and could at that time come to GFI for final residence training in whatever you require.”

If you wish to contribute to an educational fund for people like Raymond, please designate your contribution: “GFI Counseling Institute scholarship.”

Handbook to Happiness has been in print since 1970 and is available from the GFI online bookstore or by phone order.

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