As I look today at our foster son, Mark Wade Miner, and see the fine, honorable husband, father, son and servant of God he has become, I experience a feeling of awe knowing all that he has overcome to reach this point in his life. Although I have always sensed his innate goodness and believed he wanted with all his heart to be this person day in and day out, the reality of addiction is that it often robs one of the ability to achieve what he so desperately wants to achieve. 

When I see the man he is today, it is almost impossible to remember that this is the same man we once found unconscious on the floor of his bedroom in our home, seemingly more dead than alive from a drug overdose, and knew we had to call the paramedics to save his life, although we knew this would surely lead to his returning to prison . . . again. 

A Poem from Prison 

But this story goes back even a few years before this frightening event. I had been writing and recording gospel music for many years and some of my CDs and Songbooks had found their way into the Draper Prison Library where Mark had access to them. Out of the blue I received a heartfelt and very articulate letter from this young man whom I had never met, telling me that he had been listening to recordings of The Light Within and I Walk By Faith “countless times” and that the music had brought a powerful return of the Spirit into His life. Enclosed with his letter was a poem that the music had inspired, entitled: My Sister’s Song. 

            My Sister’s Song

      My sister’s words have moved me—

            A soul-song tenderly probing within battle-scared flesh,

            Carrying Heaven-sent emotions that quickly  

            Flake apart the veneer of fear,

            Crumble long-held walls of weakness,

            And remove the armored plates of doubt

            Which for so long have fiercely guarded my sin-won soul. 

            Living waters gently roll in on her words,

            Cleansing and softly healing the love-starved flesh of the heart—

      Now pink and alive and growing again,

      Beating with divinely-restored hope and joy.

      The battlefields of my mind are still and peaceful;

      The greening grass of purity now guards my love-won soul,

      Its Holy Victor now Captain of my destiny.

      Gratefully kneeling before Him who has given me all,

      I am filled with the bread of life.

      Rising, I hear a rustle as the Comforter comes,

      Borne to me on the wings of my sister’s song. 

      Mark W. Miner

      10-3-88 

I knew this poem had been written by someone of great spiritual depth who was reaching out in good ways for help and support in his mighty struggle against addiction. I answered his letter and invited further correspondence from him. ? ? 

Getting to Know Mark 

In one of his letters Mark gave me an overview of his life story and some of the things he felt had led him in diverse paths at an early age. His spiral from first experimenting with drugs to an all-out slide into an addiction which took over his life and dulled his innate good instincts was heartbreaking to read. I was no expert on this subject but held out a perhaps naïve hope that I might be instrumental in helping him overcome his struggles. 

Mark asked if my husband Doug and I might be willing to come to Draper Prison and present a musical program there. This was my first time to visit a prison but with some trepidation we agreed to do so. At this program we met Mark for the first time and felt the same good vibes in meeting him that I had felt through his letters and poetry. The evening was a good experience for us, and we returned later to present the Sunday service for those who wished to attend. It felt good to be there and I continued my correspondence with Mark. 

Later Mark was transferred to Gunnison Prison, and we went there also to present a couple of musical programs and were able to have additional association with Mark. At one of these events, after we had finished our presentation, it was announced that the ward choir (about twenty inmates) had prepared one of my songs and would like to sing for me. Doug and I both had tears in our eyes as we listened to the men sing, Just When I Need You the Most. It was obvious to us that Mark thrived in the disciplined prison environment, and we prayed that he would be able to carry this over to his post-prison life at some point in the future.

 

Getting to Know Mark 

In one of his letters Mark gave me an overview of his life story and some of the things he felt had led him in diverse paths at an early age. His spiral from first experimenting with drugs to an all-out slide into an addiction which took over his life and dulled his innate good instincts was heartbreaking to read. I was no expert on this subject but held out a perhaps naïve hope that I might be instrumental in helping him overcome his struggles. 

Mark asked if my husband Doug and I might be willing to come to Draper Prison and present a musical program there. This was my first time to visit a prison but with some trepidation we agreed to do so. At this program we met Mark for the first time and felt the same good vibes in meeting him that I had felt through his letters and poetry. The evening was a good experience for us, and we returned later to present the Sunday service for those who wished to attend. It felt good to be there and I continued my correspondence with Mark. 

Later Mark was transferred to Gunnison Prison, and we went there also to present a couple of musical programs and were able to have additional association with Mark. At one of these events, after we had finished our presentation, it was announced that the ward choir (about twenty inmates) had prepared one