December 17, 2020

Day 743

Dear Friend:

I am grateful to for the ability to forward this Christmas greeting to you, and once again to thank you for your prayers and letters of encouragement and financial help with our legal bills, which we are now struggling with once again to keep up with.

I must confess that the past months have probably been the most difficult for Kathie and me. Kathie had oral problems again, subsequent infections, and great pain once again, and is facing one more surgical procedure. Please continue to pray for her and encourage her. She is in severe pain now.

Here at Ashland FCI, we were hit big-time with COVID-19 in early November, and it swept through the prison like a wave, one unit after another. Five inmates have died including two men around 50 years old who were from our unit prior to their being moved. I knew both of them, and I’ve written about it in my daily journal at I was really ill, especially the week of Thanksgiving. And frankly, I wanted to die. I was checked for COVID-19 the Thursday prior to my getting sick but was negative. Saturday night it hit me, and I went downstairs in the morning and waited for the nurse to come, along with a handful of others who had symptoms. She merely checked my temperature and told me to go back to my cell. Thanksgiving Day and the day prior were my worst days, but the medical staff never stepped foot in our unit until eight days after Thanksgiving — over two weeks. At that time, I was given another COVID-19 test and tested negative again. But there is no doubt I had COVID-19, even at times finding it difficult to breathe. Praise the Lord He healed me and brought me through.

Six of the men who are part of our little nightly church in our unit that we began back in March, once we were locked inside the unit permanently, were moved to quarantine, which made no sense since just about the entire unit except some of the youngest were sick. Sickness prevented us from meeting together from mid-November until Tuesday of this week, and two of the six are now back in the unit. During this time, the guards (vs. the inmates) found themselves responsible for our food, and we went for six weeks with no commissary. Their solution was to order 40,000 frozen bologna and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to feed us often twice a day for weeks on end. I ate very little and lost weight, but I confess I had no appetite, taste, or smell.

On Wednesday, JM left for quarantine, and then on January 6, 2021 he is going to a halfway house in Grand Rapids, MI, three hours from his home. He’d been in prison for 13 years. He gave his life to Christ in July after resisting and running from God his whole life. He has spent hours in my cell every day since and is an absolutely changed man. It was sad to see him leave, but I am thrilled for him. Please pray he finds good Christian fellowship and that his family finds Jesus.

I have yet to hear from my sentencing judge in reference to my motion to vacate my sentence or send me to home confinement. I am desperate to be reunited with Kathie and my family, but I know God has His purposes. My case manager told me that I was supposed to go to a halfway house in Harrisonburg, Virginia, on March 6, 2021. But then she informed me she’d made a mistake, and the correct date they gave me was March 26, 2021. She is trying to get an earlier date for me. Pray.

The prison did reverse itself and allow me to have a non-monitored call with my new attorney. We spoke for 1-3/4 hours. The civil suit against me, my daughter, and the company is now scheduled for June. However, because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the prison is not allowing the attorneys from Southern Poverty Law Center who are representing the other side to depose me, even with a court order. I believe the judge in the civil case gave a deadline of early March for all the depositions so they may have to proceed without my deposition or delay the trial again.

I know God has all things in His control. In many ways, this prison sentence has been a blessing, even though it has been very difficult. He has provided me with hours to study His Word and pray, read, and write my thoughts every day now for over two years. Hence it has been as much a blessing for me as it has been for people like W, C, JM, E, J, and the others you have read about over the past two years in my journal. I have missed my Kathie so very much. But we both have His peace and joy.

We were allowed two visits in October of one hour each before COVID-19 hit us hard. So I got to see Kathie twice, and William and Josiah each once when they came with Kathie. It was a no-touch visit with glass in between us. It was hard to hear each other though, but terrific to see each other!

I know that we Christians are to expect to suffer persecution for Him (2 Timothy 3:12). But God uses it for our own good (2 Timothy 1:8; 2:3, 12; 1 Peter 5:10, Romans 5:3-5 and many others).

Thank you once again for your prayers, letters, and financial help. I pray you and your family have a blessed Christmas and that you remain healthy, especially COVID-19 free. You are very encouraging to Kathie and me. And we praise the Lord for you. This will be my third Christmas in prison unless God miraculously intervenes. I leave you now with what I think has become my favorite Christmas passage:

“But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7).

In His service,

Philip Zodhiates

P.S. Don’t forget to check out my daily journal at

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