The Unexpected Jewel: A PIRT Report

Jim has been a “breath of fresh air” – the unexpected jewel among all of the great inmates (185) that I have heard from over the past few years.

I heard from Jim for the first time in early 2021. I already had over a year of experience working with the Prison Inmate Response Team (PIRT) and had read many nice letters requesting a free copy of The Urantia Book along with a few testimonials by that time, but there was just something special about his letter…

As you may know, the PIRT team communicates with inmates by using an alias; Jim and the others know me as a fellow named Evan Todd. I have to say that, since I first began receiving letters in late 2018, I have never received a letter that was rude or crude from anyone (as one might initially have been concerned about); so for any inmate to stand out and distinguish himself among all others who are behaving like gentlemen says something very powerful about Jim.

First, he didn’t ask for a book – he already had one and had read it completely. Here are some highlights from his first letter assigned to me:

“Dear Friend,

I have been an inmate in the custody of the Colorado Department of Corrections for nearly the past ten years, with no end in sight, for crimes which I did not commit. I share this not to elicit physical support, sympathy, pity, or even moral outrage toward the system, but rather as a basis for you to gain a glimpse of a hungry soul.

I came from a background of a fairly legalistic, righteous (if not self-righteous), non-denominational Christian church where I had been leading a house church, bible study groups, and a music ministry. Circumstances and disagreements led me to leave this church, but I will always be grateful for Our Father drawing me closer to him through them.

I was first exposed to The Urantia Book some eight years ago. I had a cellmate who was even more legalistic than the church I had come from. He was so much so that he often spoke old English in normal conversation in an attempt to imitate the King James bible. I was attempting to assuage my yearning for understanding, guidance, peace and freedom through God at this point in my life albeit by a much less legalistic approach than I had embraced in the past. He and I would engage in heated debates, the last of which ended in his prophecy of me “eternally bound in the flames of Hades.” The day after this prediction he returned from the library with a fully indexed version of The Urantia Book.  We were immediately intrigued and excited at what we were learning. 

We took turns using the index to look up “mysteries” that the bible had left us, and we would share with each other what we were learning. The next day my cellmate was transferred from the facility. I have not seen him since. I obtained a copy of The Urantia Book (unfortunately not indexed) and have studied it nearly daily since.

I am not seeking verification of the authenticity of the book. The spirit within me testifies to this divine revelation. Each time through the papers, I gain an even greater understanding than the last. The love, the fruits of the spirit, the truth, beauty, and goodness of the Father, the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Mankind all become clearer and clearer especially as I share with those around me. I am left feeling a bit dejected though, as most of them seem to realize far less joy and excitement than I.

I am extremely grateful to be able to enjoy this, the fifth epochal revelation to mankind on Urantia. I would be remiss if I failed to inquire after further revelations which would guide me in my journey to the Father. I would appreciate any information, groups, or correspondence relating to such and also any direction you could provide.

In His Love, James H.

Knowledge is possessed only by sharing; it is safeguarded by wisdom and socialized by love. (48:7.28, 557.12)

I sent him George Michelson-Dupont’s course from Urantia Book International School (UBIS), and in Jim’s next letter addressed to me he wrote:

Dear Evan,

Thank you for responding to my letter of inquiry regarding Urantia Foundation. I am encouraged to hear about efforts to expand the world’s knowledge and understanding of this epoch revelation. As I explained in my previous letter, I “stumbled” onto The Urantia Book after crying out to God in prayer for greater understanding, reason, and purpose. I had been studying the Bible for more than 30 years, had been a church leader, yet I had so many questions that have gone unanswered until reading this book. The clarity and authority with which it spoke to me gave testimony to its authenticity and Truth.

It is impossible to keep silent about such a powerful and impactful revelation. As such, I have been sharing it with many that I know both in prison and on the streets. So many people want and need this book. They are hungry for it. I find myself advising many by the information and advice that I myself have gained from the book. Several inmates near me have begun their personal journey. Many of them have received or are in the process of getting the book, though resources are somewhat minimal for us.

I very much enjoyed the lesson, “The Inescapable Command” that you sent. I found it very interesting to see the perspective of others. I welcome and very much appreciate this and any other lessons that I may be able to receive. I would also appreciate any direction you could provide me to help those who are new to the book. The flyers you sent with selected excerpts were very well received. If you have more, I could use them to create more enthusiasm. I also have been sharing my own favorite excerpts. Let me know if you are interested in hearing any of them.

I appreciate you and others who volunteer and donate not only to the prisons but to all in the world who really hunger for this Truth. If I am able to prove my innocence by the grace of God, I will certainly be generous in giving of time, money, and resources. Unfortunately, I am unable at this time to give financially. At least now I see a purpose, experiential growth. God truly is blessing me through it all. God bless you Evan. Thank you for your letter!

In His Love, Jim H.

At that time, I responded with Dorothy Elder’s UBIS course since he enjoyed the first one so much…

In Jim’s third letter, which was a bit delayed, he explained that he had been busy with pursuing research and legal avenues through the prison law library to help his cause, which he explained was quite exhausting; in addition to experiencing housing issues that forced him being moved around the facility. He hadn’t had a chance to finish the second UBIS course, but he said that it became apparent that, through his difficulties, God was blessing him… a new perspective which inspired him to share with others, resulting in his estimate of five books being requested in prison and two purchased out on the streets.

For two years I have received beautiful Christmas cards from Jim. My cards came back because of prison rules so we sent a used copy of the indexed version this year for Jim to have again and he was ecstatic to receive it.

spiritual journey
Rienaldo Dennes

Jim mentioned having studied many scriptures including the Bible as a starting point, Eastern religions and a course in Siddha Yoga, to name a few. He said that all of his studying had prepared him to receive the truth in The Urantia Book, “by far the greatest source of Truth I have encountered in written form.” He asked that I share with all the PIRT volunteers his gratitude for “their dedication to a segment of society which is often overlooked, and they are to be commended.”

PIRT rules require we use an alias. Of course, I never dreamed when I chose my alias that any of the inmates would study the book so thoroughly or ever write to me enough to catch the meaning of the alias I chose for my name after Eventod, but this only further explains how special and devoted to the revelation that Jim is; in a postscript he wrote:

When I first saw your name, it rang familiar to me. I recently found out why. I had read it several times before. Are you the namesake of the fifth bestowal of our now Sovereign Michael? 119:5.2

PIRT rules forced me to joke about the name in my next letter and I explained to him that he was the first person who had discovered the name connection, which earned him a prize. I sent him a copy of “A Study of the Master Universe” by Bill Sadler Jr. and another UBIS course that I had taught, “Essentials of a Powerful Personal Religion.”

Our next letters were a bit different in that we were both experiencing the health decline of our mothers at the same time. Some very encouraging quotes were exchanged, and when his mother went into memory care and my mother passed away, a level of true compassion grew that was unique and again made Jim stand out by his recognition of the challenges others face, not just his own. He felt blessed that he had a good conversation with his mother, and she seemed happy and well cared for. His regret at not being able to care for her himself was a particular challenge for him to bear, and he was very kind when he heard both of my parents had died within a very short period of time. We were both able to draw strength from the promise within the book of being reunited someday with our parents.

In my most recent letter from Jim he wrote:

“Dear Evan,

WOW! First you send an indexed version of The Urantia Book and now you surprise me again with “A Study of the Master Universe”! I’ve only skimmed it so far, but I am greatly intrigued. Having some background in music, I appreciate the metaphor of a symphony used in the Foreword, though I believe The Urantia Book IS an actual symphony, not just like one. Certainly, the Celestial Artisans must have at least some hands in these records. Just as in an earthly symphony, ideas are introduced, examined, set aside, reintroduced, and then expanded upon and evolved. The Urantia Book offers beauty in the elements of a story. Righteousness strikes the harmony chords of truth, and this melody vibrates throughout the cosmos.

The comparison in the Afterword to, “a romance – a story of love and adventure, is equally inspired in its description of the fifth epochal revelation to our world. The truth it expounds, and the goodness of its message must be predicated upon the Universal Father’s LOVE.

I believe I told you in my last letter that I had been moved to an incentive pod rather than the “faith pod” where I had been. It seemed that I had more opportunity to private study, meditation, and prayer in the “faith pod” than I have now. The upside is that many more in the incentive pod seem to come to me to discuss philosophy, theology, religion, and even The Urantia Book! Several more have written and been sent books. For the most part I am encouraged by this… and have had some great conversations with a few. I’ve found when I am called to state what I believe is truth, I seem to gain a deeper grasp of it. “Knowledge is possessed by sharing. It is safeguarded by wisdom and socialized by love.”

Who knows? Maybe I am being trained for the Reserve Corps of Destiny! I am certain, of course, that we all are being trained for an eternal future much greater than even that!

In His Love, Your friend, Jim H.

What more can I say? What a profound pleasure and privilege it has been to have been assigned to this gentleman.