Working with a prisoner to help him reach out to at-risk youth–Mitchell Berrios

I reluctantly got involved with helping Mitchell who is in prison. I say reluctantly because I knew that if I started helping him, I would most likely be a lifeline for him, and I did not want that responsibility. Yet because of a series of circumstances, I appear to be his life line, and now I will place the responsibility and burden in the lap of Papa, our creator. I will do my best to help him, reminding myself that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

I met Mitch when I was helping a neighbor move some stuff–and getting paid for it. (I regret that I don’t have much time to help people besides my family for free–yet I yearn to get my family involved in serving together–I pray that they will choose to support Mitch). Mitch very lovingly offered to help me, and we felt an instant connection when we discovered that we had very similar view points about Jesus. We ended up having about a three hour discussion sharing our testimonies and life stories.

The next day we spoke for about two more hours. I felt so torn because I did not have extra time to spend with a “stranger” yet I hoped that our mutual love for Jesus would lead to some kind of expanded fellowship with others.I also was interested in his desire to help minister to at risk youth with helping them build Ozark  Custom Pedal Choppers. The pedal chopper is a very unique design of bicycle that looks like a chopper motorcycle.

I didn’t see Mitchell when I got really busy, and the next thing I heard was that he had gone to prison because he had violated parole. I wanted to make the effort to connect with him, but my life was so full with supporting my family working full time. Also, I really had no clue as to how to find him.

What I understood from Mitchell about why he was on probation was this: He had a friend who was drunk and about to drive with his two year old daughter. Mitchell took the car some where until his friend was sober. Because Mitchell’s mother was in an accident, hit by a drunk driver, Mitchell felt especially protective.

His friend called the police, and Mitchell was put in jail for car theft. When he went to prison after violating his probation, he had a very hostile psychologist interview him and decide that he needed to go to state hospital.

After Mitchell was in prison for several months,  I was hired to contact him to help find a home for his beautiful dog who was killing chickens at the Brown Farm where I live and work part time. I wrote Mitchell to find out who might take his dog, and he wrote back requesting help for his situation.I am admitting that I had to be hired to contact him because I didn’t think I had time to help him.

I felt overwhelmed at that time, and did not respond right away. He asked me to deliver a letter to someone to get help, and I did that after two weeks. Then I finally wrote him an encouraging letter.  I told him I would publish his letters and his dream to help at-risk youth. This is the letter I received from him:

Dear Patricia

I didn’t get your letters until after I arrived at the State Hospital. Thank you very much for teh moral support (I really needed it!) I thought maybe you never got my letters or were too busy. I guess Iwas starting to get anxious. But I knew I could count on you as long as you didn’t have some extraordinary problems…

I got transported with seven other guys in a prisoner trans van. We were all handcuffed/leg-shackled and stuffed in like sardines. It sucked! Plus: I was the last guy to get dropped off, which meant I had to ride all the way to Pine Bluff first then back to Little Rock. (Yeee Haw!)

I got bruises on my wrists and ankles; yet it was all worth it when I finally got  here and realized you’d written me not only once but twice since my last letter. I can’t say how much it means to me that you are my ally and friend. I really appreciate that you went out of your way to deliver that letter to Lance at Ozark Guidance Center.

Yes, I would greatly appreciate your typing mt letters on your blog…I’ll try to produce something like a mission support letter/vision statement that you can put on the internet.

I think we can kill two birds with one stone…meaning that we could potentially procure community support to not only get my legal problems resolved–but also procure community support to start my Ozark Custom Pedal Choppers ministry to at-risk youth.

Thanks for all the help!

Love in Christ, Mitchell

Mitchell Berrios

Arkansas State Hospital

3055 Palm St.

Little Rock, AR 72205


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