calling all angels

I’ve spent much of the weekend thinking about the Jordan Brown case and talking to people involved in it. Yesterday I bought myself extra thinking time by publishing Graham Peeble’s essay, and used the day to reflect on Jordan’s case and ask myself how the verdict is going to affect me and the allocation of finite resources available to me (including my remaining time on this planet—this will drag on!).

In case you haven’t figured it out already, I live a monk’s life out here. Cloistered by wilderness, it is a solitary existence of voluntary poverty and simplicity. Without the worldly distractions which command most people’s attentions, I am free to devote the full focus of my attention to our kids and their needs. Yet getting anything done for the kids always involves the participation of others who endorse the work in material ways: our “angels.”

On Saturday one of the angels asked me if it made any difference to me that Jordan had been judged guilty and not innocent, and I answered “not at all.” It never did matter whether or not Jordan had done the crime; my mission is the same regardless: to provide unconditional lifelong support for the kid no matter where his path takes him. I will follow as a servant and provide the best of everything that he needs to live a productive and satisfying life in which his self-directed potential can be actualized.

Anyway, this is how I visualize the state of Redemption for Jordan and every other one of the kids. Where they lead, I follow.

People often say of these murders, trials, and imprisonments: “This will change that child’s whole life.” But they probably don’t think about this much beyond the easy phrase.

I find it very difficult, as well, to think very far out into the future about what “Redemption” will mean in pragmatic and practical terms. Each of our kids has his own distinct life-vision and aspirations. Jordan’s dream is to work for the FBI. Derek wants to be a missionary someplace where his life will be on the line. Each has particular and very different aims and needs, and those are developing and changing over time in unpredictable ways. Yet I’m committed to providing “the best of everything” that’s needed by each kid. No small task.

Last Friday’s decision hasn’t really fazed me; all it does is changes the requirements of my commitment to Jordan. Guilty, Innocent… that’s a secondary issue for me… oh yes, I do want to see Jordan set free, but that is not of any consequence to my mission, which is to stick with the kid like superglue and serve his needs through the whole journey, come what may.

If we can influence what comes and when, all the better. But my commitment—our commitment—is unconditional and eternal, and I mean that literally.

One phrase I have stumbled upon in my researches is the belief of Horace Mann, the initial champion of compulsion schooling, that “the state is the father of the child.” This is a very offensive notion to me because when I see how most states have “parented” our kids, I can only conclude that the state is an inept and even abusive parent. When we entrust the state—any state—with the welfare of our children, when we allow the state to assume the parental role and undermine the integrity of biological families, we are courting dysfunction and disaster on a grand scale. Think “Hitlerjugend.”

Yet if we were to frame our efforts only in terms of being against the state’s usurpation of the parental role, we would accomplish nothing of consequence. We must create a positive alternative, a new parental model that displaces the state as a preferred guardian for kids whose parents have failed them, sometimes—and almost always in the case of parricides—abominably.

Beginning with Derek and Alex King in 2003, we created our first trust fund to act as a responsible and loving parent might. The original purpose of the King Brothers Trusts was restricted to creating funds to facilitate their prison-to-freedom transitions—you know, for things like tuition, housing, transportation, etc. But we quickly learned that Derek and Alex needed advocacy and support while they were still incarcerated under the state’s authority. We have since realized that Derek and Alex will also need specialized support long after they create independent lives for themselves—services not so they will remain dependent on us, but so they might be liberated from the restrictions on their freedoms and opportunities that would otherwise hobble them all through their lives.

The heartless way that the state of Florida has derailed Alex’s progress provides ample  proof of the state’s bad intentions.

I have to tell you, I would certainly lose heart were it not for you. You are my angels. Your support lifts me up each day, and I am inspired by your creative spirit. You free me from the chains which constrain me so that I can address our mission of unconditional lifelong support to these kids who need us.

For example, there is an “Aussie Gang” in Melbourne that sends a fixed amount of money each month for Alex and James. This is an intergenerational group of youthful men and women, including boys and girls, who have attached themselves to £ance, a guy my age who is also an accountant, church organist, and part-time equipment manager for one of Australia’s professional football clubs. I don’t know exactly how they put the money together (everybody chips in), but every month, regular as sunrise, the Aussie Gang sends us an amount of money sufficient to meet basic phone and commissary requirements for Alex and James. I feel such gratitude for £ance, Aub, Stephen, Anthony, Cliff, Tyler, Kristian, Jorden, Steffy, Helen, Steven, and Josh—you can’t know what a burden your efforts lift from my tired shoulders, and what assurance your help provides!

Then there is a man named John in northern Indiana, who has been selling surplus items he owns and is sending the proceeds to Paul Henry Gingerich’s trust fund. A couple weeks ago he sold a lawnmower, and now he’s just sold a watch. Yesterday I received a check and a letter from him in which he outlined some ideas for organizing volunteers to do more than just sending money. We will be talking soon.

There’s Sharron, an Arkansas great-grandmother, who has adopted Alex King as one of her brood (which numbers well over twenty—“So what’s one more?” she says). Sharron prides herself on never missing a son’s or daughter’s or grandchild’s birthday, or providing extra help whenever it’s needed. She calls me from time to time for updates on Alex’s well-being, and attends to him as faithfully as if he were her own grandson. She always gives me a piece of advice to pass on, and I always do.

There is Wolfgang in Germany, who is invariably the first to send a gift for any appeal. He is the Diary reader who first alerted me to Paul Henry Gingerich’s plight. With Wolfgang backing us, I know we continue to be on the side of what’s right.

Matt is another one of our “rocks.” Matt regularly corresponds with several of the kids, and he can always be counted on to help generously with their particular needs in insightful and compassionate ways.

Martin, a Canadian business owner and family man, is generously supportive of aggressive strategies which even the odds in defending vulnerable kids.

There is Rainer in Germany, whose unsolicited gifts always arrive when they’re most needed to cover a legal bill or some other significant expense. Rainer’s heartfelt compassion stems from a childhood in which he was the older, protective brother to a sibling who was disabled. He has never forgotten what it’s like to be a vulnerable kid.

And there is Jeanne, who has been regularly and faithfully sending Jordan books, games, and other little gifts from almost day one of his wrongful detention. At first she believed the media and thought Jordan was guilty. But now, like me, she is convinced that Jordan is innocent. Yet from the beginning, her love and support have been unconditional and unwavering. She is a divine angel in material form.

I could go on and on, but your time is limited and our list of “angels” is long. Suffice it to say that everyone gives in his or her own way, for their own reasons, as they are able. Their generosity, depth of feeling, and most of all their unwavering commitment, makes everything we do for kids possible.

We have recently experienced a major setback. Someone who had promised a big gift that was to have covered the balance of Blade’s and James’ legal expenses has not come through. After months of broken promises, we have sadly concluded that we must call on others to fulfill them. Blade’s appeal has ground to a halt and James has a May court date coming up. We need to raise at least $10,000 in the next month to assure justice for these boys.

And then there is Jordan. The burden of proof has now been shifted from the state to us, and like a good and loving parent, we must do everything in our power to right this terrible wrong that is being inflicted on him by his abusive foster-parent, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We must hire a cadre of expert witnesses to prove that what corrupt Pennsylvania officials claim happened on February 20, 2009 is a vile fabrication.

Calling all angels! We cannot carry on without your help. Will you please join with us and help a higher spirit prevail? Please visit The Redemption Project’s website at www.redemptionforkids.org and help as your head and heart command.

Thank you!


Groove of the Day 

Listen to Eric Clapton performing “If I Could Change the World”


12 Responses to “calling all angels”

  1. 1 Wolfgang
    April 17, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    I saw this (link below) in the news today here in Germany; it’s a project for Children in Berlin
    The slogan of this project say’s “Alle Kids sind VIPs” (all kids are VIPs)
    I like the slogan and the logo.
    Yes for me all kids are VIPs also, regardless what they have done, they are kids and special those kids who are in prison for long terms need our support!

  2. 2 justicebedonenow
    April 17, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Good well testimony person who wrote thid above. I thought of jordon myself, and it hasn’t been a whole week since his trial he had after what 3 whole years till they decised so late and said hey lets now give this kid a trial on a lie saying he is guilty before they wanna have him sit rot. How horrrbile. He deserved a right of a trial before 3 years and sppedy trial. may people had a trial fast like in one year. There is people who did a crime such as adults and they got off the hook just like that. What cops, judge did is against the law by going that long 3 whole years long when he should of gotton it long time ago HELLO AMERICA.! Jordon should just be released now and i mean now forget him staying in jail, just release the kid he did no wrong did no murder, it’s simple as that and the prosecutor, judge, police and jury and other people whos making it so hard for jordon, they have no idea of such things.

  3. 3 Mieke Kets
    April 17, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    I’m not whealthy enough to donate in cash, but could I make a kid happy by corresponding to him or her. We live in Belgium, I’m a 41 year old mother with 5 kids, who I try to provide with all the things they need, not only material but also on behavioral ways, some kind of livaying values thing. I’ve found your blog through my studies, and maybe sending some cards of so, can make a difference to a youngster.

    • 4 matt
      April 17, 2012 at 5:40 pm

      You can find the boys’ addresses in earlier posts on this blog, or Dan can repost. I’m sure that each and every one of these boys would be thrilled to know that they are being thought of by someone so far away. It is not the content of your letter that matters as much as the knowledge that you cared enough to write, and that someone on the outside remembers them. Some may not be able to write back, either due to facility restrictions for juveniles or postage issues, but be assured they will appreciate your effort.

    • April 17, 2012 at 5:54 pm

      Mieke, thanks for caring! Here are the addresses of our incarcerated kids:

      Jordan Brown
      Edmund L. Thomas Adolescent Detention Center
      4728 Lake Pleasant Road
      Erie, PA 16504 (NOTE: This address will change soon.)

      Paul Henry Gingerich (201351)
      c/o Pendleton Juvenile Corrections Facility
      PO Box 900
      Pendleton, IN 46064 (NOTE: Paul Henry will be unable to reply.)

      King, Alex (P20435)
      Holmes Correctional Institution
      PO Box 20435, 3142 Thomas Drive
      Bonifay, FL 32425-0190

      James Prindle (10142158)
      C Pod, Cell 7 – Jail East
      6201 Haley Road
      Memphis, TN 38134

      Blade Reed 196682-DHU-205
      PO Box 1111
      Carlisle, IN 47848

      Nathan Ybanez (102794)
      PO Box 6000
      Sterling, CO 80751

  4. 6 Bill
    April 17, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    Dan the time to ” hire a cadre of expert witnesses” is past. If the defense team wanted to call expert witnesses then they should have done it during the trial. Rather than continue to drink the brown family koolaid and listening to their long list of excuses of why they have no money. Why not require the brown family themselves to step up to the plate and get jobs and help in the defense of jordan. One would think any father would be willing to do that. This family has been at the public trough their whole lives and continues to look for additional sources of free money and you just seem to fit the bill. No doubt there are many children that are in need but at some point everyone needs to face the facts, accept them and move forward. No matter how many times I look at my beagle dog and wish he was a black lab, he still continues to be a beagle, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter because I still adore him.

    • April 17, 2012 at 8:02 pm

      Bill, thank you for offering your perspective. Even though I do not agree with you, I respect the way you have presented your opinions.

      You create the impression of a person who might agree that none of us knows the full truth of things including family character and court procedure. I will not address those points except to say that your opinion is based on a misapprehension of the facts.

      What I will address is your implication that we are being taken for a ride by Jordan Brown’s family. In this respect, your opinion is baseless. Our commitment to Jordan is unconditional and lifelong. This means that we accept him and his situation “as is.” It is what it is, as they say.

      If you want to argue about what “is” is, I’m not interested in mud wrestling right now. You say it’s time for me to move on, and I agree. That is exactly what we are doing. Moving on, and standing by the kid.

      He says he’s innocent, and I believe him. I believe my own judgment regarding what the evidence tells us: he is innocent. An injustice has been committed against this child and I am going to continue defending him because that his his priority. He wants to be free and he wants his name cleared. I want that too. His priority is mine.

      Dogs and puppies always conjure up heartwarming images, but for me it is not a matter of wanting a beagle to be a black lab and “moving on” like Newt Gingrich abandons wives. That would be tacky. It would be wrong.

      You selected a beagle and, as you say, you adore him. You wouldn’t abandon him because he isn’t a lab, would you? Anyway, in my opinion there’s nothing wrong with being a beagle.

      • 8 matt
        April 18, 2012 at 5:58 am

        You are right, Dan, RP isn’t about whether these kids are guilty or innocent of these crimes, it’s about supporting them through the process. It’s about helping them focus on a positive future, rather than being eaten up by the “system”, consumed by feelings of guilt, abandonment, fear, and anger, only to become repeat offenders and life-long wards of the state.

  5. April 20, 2012 at 12:36 am

    Hey there Dan, you are embarrassing us!! (Not really, just our Aussie warped sense of humour). We will have to go and polish our halos after your “wrap-up” of our humble efforts. Have a bit of news about what we have got planned & will be in touch sometime over the next week. Hang in there mate & (as we say here in Ozzieland) “more power to your elbow”. Can’t wait to share this blog with “The Gang”. Cheers.


  6. June 2, 2012 at 2:08 pm


    I found Alex and Derek a long time ago on internet… And then, today, I found your blog. And I love it. I’m from Sweden, so my english is a bit rusty. I don’t know why, but for some reason I really care about Alex and Derek, and I wonder… What are they doing today? Are they OK and do they feel well? Just curious! 🙂

    Have a nice one! – Annie

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