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“In Charles Colson’s book, Loving God, he tells the story of an incredible ninety-one-year-old woman, known affectionately as Grandma Howell…

As she moved into the twilight of her life, she had more than one reason to let depression take over--to just give up and die. Her youngest son had died. Her oldest son was in declining health. Many of her friends were dying and she had begin to believe that she had nothing left to live for. One day she prayed with all of her heart and told the Lord that if He didn’t have anything more for her to do, she was ready to die. According to Grandma Howell, God spoke three words: Write to prisoners.

After arguing with the Lord about her lack of education and her age, Myrtle wrote her first letter:

Dear Inmate,

I am a grandmother who loves and cares for you who is in a place you had not plans to be.

My love and sympathy goes out to you. I am willing to be a friend to you in correspondence. If you’d like to hear from me, write me. I will answer every letter you write.

A Christian Friend,

Grandmother Howell

When the letter was sent to the Atlanta Penitentiary, the prison chaplain sent Myrtle the names of eight prison inmates. That was the beginning of an unbelievable ministry of encouragement. Over the next months, this elderly woman carried on an extensive written ministry with hundreds of incarcerated men and women--- and all of it was done from her little room in a high-rise home for the aged in Columbus, Georgia.

According to Colson, writing to the prisoners was only half of Myrtle’s joy. They wrote back! And their letters were warm, rich epistles of gratitude. One inmate who signed her name ‘Grandmother Janice’ wrote:

Dear Grandmother,

I received your letter and it made me sad when you wrote that you think you may not be alive much...

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