Death Row Ministry in VA, NC and TN

$8,795 of $15,000 goal

Raised by 133 people in 51 months
On the 6th of March, 2015 I traveled up to Virginia's death row to minister to two of the men there in the ice and snow!  I am happy to say because of all of this faithful "showing up" I have added two more of the guys when I go on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of every month. Sadly one of my beloved friends was executed. All of my friends know that I have made a commitment to be with them until the very end.
Since November 2016, I have been seeing two of the guys on NCs death row as well almost every Friday of the month. I will be adding a third friend in December. I am hoping to visit one of my new friends on TNs row in Nashville, TN. He has not had a visit in over a decade.
I also write to men on death row in NC, TN, PA, and TX.
In addition, I have 2 friends in NC that I visit from time to time. And I write to over 20 friends on a regular basis.

Your continued financial support is needed in order to keep this ministry going. I also need your prayers as I go as I want Christ to go before me, behind me, and all around me. I always go with prayers for the families of the victims in my heart, But I also go with the unconditional love of Christ knowing that a single act does not define any of us. I have been transformed by listening to their stories and spending time with my friends.

The nuts and bolts of it:
The journey to Virginia takes me about 2 1/2 hours each way.
I stay over at a retreat center which will costs $75 in order to pray and to reflect on on that I saw and heard. Thankfully the price of gas has gone down, so the 310 miles doesn't cost as much, but it still will cost at least $30. Therefore, it costs me a little over $100 every time I go up to see my friends on Virginia's row.
I also need gas money for my trips within the state to NCs death row and to see my other 2 friends.
I am hoping to visit my new friend on TNs row in 2018. The car trip is 9 hours, so I will need money for gas and at least two nights stay at a hotel.
And I need money for postage.

People always say "every little bit counts" - well if all of my Facebook friends only contributed $1, I would have enough for another 10 trips to Virginia! Soooo trust me, I really appreciate every dollar!
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This is from one of my friends on the row in NC:

The Angel of Death Row Prison Ministry
This is an urgent outcry from death row friends of Pastor Cari Willis. We on the row call her, “the Angel of death row prisoners” on Virginia and North Carolina death rows.
First, we want to thank you all for being faithful givers to Angel’s death row prison ministry over the years that God has led her into prison ministry!
Angel has informed us that she is down to pennies and nickels in her GoFundMe account. We are praying that you will offer some assistance. We don’t have the financial means in order to fund her visits to see us. Sadly, our family and former friends have rejected us. God has allowed Angel to visit us. If she didn’t, we would not have any visits or letters or even a card! All she does for us would not be possible without your fulfilling this request.
Please will you have compassion and help us on death row? Any gift amount you can give will be appreciated. We know all donations are not too big or too small for Christ’s call. Without the assistance of loving and caring compassionate friends and saints like you, Angel couldn’t continue her call for the Lord, to “the least of these, my sons and daughters.”
Please become a monthly partner and send all charitable donations to Pastor Cari or to her GoFundMe page. 100% of all donations will go toward the Angel of death row prison ministry.
Thank you good and faithful servants!
God bless us everyone!
Sincerely, yours in Christ,
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August 2018 Ministry Update
At the beginning of this year two of my three friends on the row thought they would be getting an execution date within a month or two and my other friend had just heard that the 4th Circuit believed that he deserved another trial in order to prove his actual innocence. The good news was mixed in with the tenuous news. This is the roller coaster ride that those on the row go through. They appeal to the courts and then they wait. The waiting can take weeks and other times it takes months. One of my friends had his appeal heard in January and it was in the last 10 days that they finally rendered their opinion. We waited eight months to hear what the 3 justices had decided. This is painful waiting!! You try to hold onto every last bit of hope amidst the fear of bad news. The other friend heard in February that his appeal would be heard. The court didn’t schedule that appeal until September. There were many anxious days checking the courts calendars.
I try to ride the roller coaster with my friends so that they know they are not alone. We laugh. We cry. We moan. We pray. We hope. We feel the anxiety in the pit of our stomachs. We wait. And then we wait. So, when I ask for prayer my friends and I, I mean I need prayer!
I also see 4 guys on the row in NC. Two of them are trying to prove their actual innocence. One of them struggles to find a friend. And my other friend is a writer. I actually help type up the stories for two friends on the row in NC. I love doing this as I am usually the first person to read what they wrote. Their stories are so vulnerable and authentic that at times they take my breath away.
I now write to over 30 men and 1 woman. I never thought that I would write to so many incarcerated friends, but God keeps adding one more and then one more! Many of these friends reside on the rows in NC, TN, AL, and PA. Several of them are serving life sentences. They are all so glad to have someone on the outside who loves and cares for them.
Looking ahead, I hope to not only visit my friends in VA and NC, but also my friends on the row in TN, AL, and PA. Your support of my ministry either financially or through your prayer support is greatly needed. I only do what I do because of YOU! My heart is full of great gratefulness for ALL you all do for me!
Christ’s great peace and love!
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Ministry Update – June 2018
I now write to 30 men. Some of them are on death row in TN, NC, AL, and PA. If they are writers, I will type up their stories for them so they can eventually get their stories published. All to say, that’s a lot of stamps per month!
I visit with all 3 men who live on the row in Virginia. We are still waiting to hear back from the courts regarding an appeal heard in January. It is almost a daily thing for me to go look on the 4th Circuit’s Web site to see if they have rendered an “opinion.” One of my friends who didn’t think he would have a final appeal, but he was granted one late in February, so this means at least another year of life. My other friend has been granted another hearing regarding his innocence.
I visit with 4 men on the row in NC. They are all hoping and praying that NC does not bring back the death penalty. There are many innocent men on the row in NC and we are all hoping and praying that eventually they will be exonerated.
I also visit with Ronnie Long who is serving 2 life sentences for a crime he didn’t commit. The state court just ruled that the 65 fingerprints that were not seen in his original trial that exonerate him can’t be used in a court of law because they would not have swayed the jury! It seems impossible that they could rule this way, but sadly this is our justice system!
I am really hoping that at some point during 2018 I will be able to go visit my friends on the row in TN and AL.
Your generous donations make all of this happen! My friends are exceptionally grateful for all of your prayers first and foremost as well your donations. They know that I depend on all of you to sustain me in the myriad of ways that you do so. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! And thank you from all of my friends.
Christ’s great peace and love,
cari
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2017 has been quite the ministry year. The year started with almost daily visits to see my beloved friend before he was executed in January. We tried our best to make every minute count. He told me many things before he was killed, one of those things was: “You have been showing up for me for almost 2 years now. When I was with you it was like the walls of the prison melted away and I was free once again. I cannot thank you enough for always being here for me.” And right before he was executed he said, “All I feel is unconditional and irrational love. The feeling is overwhelming. I know that people all over the world are praying for me and I am beyond grateful.” The truth is that my friend made those prison walls melt for the two of us. His deep and abiding faith and his outrageous love has forever changed my heart.

I wrote this about my friend’s execution: https://sojo.net/articles/voiceless-grief-watching-my-friend-s-execution. I continue to be thankful that Sojourner’s picked up the story.

Little did I know until later that my beloved friend’s dying wish was that one of the guys he was close to on the row would finally start seeing “church lady” (what my friend always called me!) My new friend filled out the paperwork right away and I have been more than grateful to add him to my list of “dearly beloved’s.” I now see 3 out of the 4 guys on the row in Virginia. Sadly in 2018 two of the my friends in VA may be executed. Clearly my prayer is that there would be some intervening force so these executions will never happen. I do not see how we as a society can say killing is so awful and then go kill someone. It has never made sense to me.

There are also rumors that North Carolina may bring back the death penalty that has been dormant for over a decade. I see 3 guys on the row here and two of them are innocent. They have also been on the row for a very long time which would not be good news if the death penalty is reinstituted. I also write to 5 other guys on the row in NC. Almost all of them are writers so I type up their stories and poems. I feel so honored to do so since I am usually the first person on the outside who has read their writing.

I hope that 2018 will bring freedom to one of my dear friends, Ronnie Long, who has been wrongfully incarcerated for 42 years. We are all hopeful that with new evidence that he will finally be exonerated!

I also hope that in 2018 that I will be able to visit one of my newest friends who lives on the row in Tennessee. For now, I will continue to write to him.

None of this ministry could be possible without your very generous donations!! I cannot thank you all enough! You remain in my daily prayers!
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Gregory
4 months ago

It means a lot to them. I was one of them

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Gregory
4 months ago

It means a lot to them. I was one of them

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$8,795 of $15,000 goal

Raised by 133 people in 51 months
Created January 21, 2015
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JP
$50
Joyce Phipps
2 months ago

I believe in the power of redemption through caring for others -- thank you for your work

$500
Anonymous
4 months ago
$25
Anonymous
4 months ago
$50
Anonymous
4 months ago
Gregory
4 months ago

It means a lot to them. I was one of them

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Gregory
4 months ago

It means a lot to them. I was one of them

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