Note from the Editor: This is a letter sent to us from an individual who is incarcerated and received a Urantia Book as a result of the Prisoner Inquiry Response Team (PIRT) program.
Thank You for Your Support
John Zavala, Jr.
Of all the prison ministries that I have had the privilege with which to participate, none have been more of a benefit to me than the Prisoner Inquiry Response Team, or PIRT.
This team is made up of volunteers and is a subcommittee of Urantia Association International’s Dissemination Committee and works very closely with the Urantia Foundation. They provide an invaluable service to the incarcerated by supplying them with Urantia Books and related literature. When I was introduced to The Urantia Book in 2009, I wasn’t given much information about its history. How did this book originate? What was its purpose? I had only a borrowed copy and even then, I had it for only a few hours.
Paging through The Urantia Book in that short period generated emotions that were uncharacteristically surreal for me. And very timely. Previously, I had read, and in many cases, studied, an unbelievable number of philosophical, scientific and religious texts. I did so for several reasons, one of which was that there were no books that gave me a sense of complete fulfilment. I wanted to have a greater understanding of things. Can you imagine the satisfaction I felt when I discovered that The Urantia Book’s Table of Contents is, itself, over 60 pages long?! At that point, I knew I had arrived at the literary place I sought to be.
So I wrote to the Foundation in Chicago and it wasn’t long thereafter when I was contacted by a PIRT volunteer. Not only were all my questions answered, but the correspondence eventually led to the blessing of receiving The Urantia Book itself. It truly was a blessing because I could not afford to purchase a copy at that time.
Though the incarcerated have made mistakes, it is never a mistake to share The Urantia Book with them. Minds behind bars really are like diamonds in the rough; all they require is some careful polishing. The Urantia Book provides just that. That is why I never fail to share this literary gift with everyone I chance to meet. I am one of the many examples of what can happen when there is support from an organization like Urantia Association International and the PIRT program.
For instance, without the encouragement of the PIRT volunteer, I would not have had the resources to start my study group. We read, study, and memorize important passages. (I myself have memorized the entire Table of Contents.) We quiz each other. We discuss important social issues of the day and reference The Urantia Book for understanding. We’ve even been contributing to the creation of an exhaustive index which, it is my hope one day will be keyed to a numbering system that will pave the way for an analytical dictionary and reference work.
I was also encouraged to publish a paper in the Journal, which you can read in December’s Issue (2014), as well as a piece by David Linthicum, one of the charter members of PIRT. In his article, there are several testimonials about the great things that have transpired in the lives of inmates who have been recipients of PIRT’s generosity.
It is difficult for inmates to purchase copies of The Urantia Book outright. To show our appreciation, my study group takes up a stamp collection when it can to send a gift donation to PIRT or when we need to purchase a new book. Your donations and considerations go a long way in helping the incarcerated like me. We are profoundly grateful for the generosity you have shown and it inspires us to be generous with the knowledge of The Urantia Book with others.
John Zavala, Jr.
Side Note from the PIRTeam:
This message was unsolicited by our PIRTeam, but is actually quite timely. Our group is in the process of placing Urantia Books in prison libraries across the United States. The last time there was a major seeding of books to prison libraries was almost 15 years ago. These books are no doubt in poor condition or no longer on library shelves. We have noticed that there is a direct correlation in the number of book requests from in-mates right after a book seeding with incoming orders slowly declining thereafter. We are at that juncture right now.
Inmates tell us all the time how grateful they are for having received The Urantia Book; their letters speak volumes. Here is one of those letters:
“The paragraphs [in The Urantia Book] explaining the “Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man” deeply touched my soul. Reading it not only confirmed my deep-seated belief that every individual is uniquely precious in the eyes of our Father; he/she is also irreplaceable and is destined to play an essential role in the ascension scheme. I matter! ME… an inmate, a convicted felon – I mean something to our Father. I am a member of his divine family and I am an integral part of the divine Brotherhood of Man. And no one, absolutely no one, can take that away from me. Can you feel what I am saying?! It is amazingly and incredibly beautiful to know that I am valued by our Father and that he has done, is doing, and will continue to do everything that he divinely can to ensure my opportunity to personality-fuse with my Thought-Adjuster and become a meaningful contributor to the universal creation scheme.”
This letter exemplifies how an inmate’s life has found meaning. PIRT is truly making a difference in bringing the Urantia revelation to where it is most needed, giving incarcerated men and women the opportunity to know who they are in the universe. It’s a priceless gift. To read more about the PIRT program click here.
Our team of volunteers has a limited amount of funds to work with. Our current budget will only allow us to seed 20 books this year. We’d like your help to send more. The act is truly ours and the consequences God’s.
Or Send to:
Urantia Association International – PIRT Fund
c/o Margaret Thompson
559 West Diversey Parkway, #351
Chicago, IL 60614-7640