20 Jul 2015
Webster defines trajectory as the path of a moving body through space; a taken course, a path.
All of us are on a certain path or course, i.e., our trajectory. Some of us are on a paved, super highway, cruising along at 75 MPH. Others of us seem to be on an elliptical route, circling back to old friends, haunts, mistakes and never breaking free of the endless loop. Many men and women in prison wonder just how they ended up doing 20 to life after what seemed such a promising start. More than a few prisoners know exactly how they got there; many suffering abuse from uncles, parents, or spouses, and medicating those pains with drugs and alcohol. Since over 95% of men and women in prison eventually are released back into society they and we should consider how to change a path…a trajectory for those getting out.
At Doing HIS Time Prison Ministry, our Colorado based (Denver) 72 Hour Fund seems to have discovered a way to do just that. Our 72 Hour Fund offers ex-offenders help within the first days and months after a Colorado inmate is released. Over the last five years DHT has assisted over 1,500 men and women ex-offenders. Of those 1,500 only 13% (195 souls) have returned to prison! The recidivism rate average for the State of Colorado is 50.4% (756 souls) The 72 Hour Fund statistics astounded us. What could DHT be doing that has changed the trajectory…the path…of these ex-offenders?
DHT consulted a few friends and a sociologist and they offered the following analysis. First, they said, contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t take a great deal of assistance to significantly alter the orbit of someone. Second, specific to DHT 72 Hour Fund, because DHT was a dedicated “prison ministry” ex-offenders feel welcome and loved, not judged, the minute they step into the office. They likened it to an AA or Al-Anon meeting where no one has to explain why he or she is there. Third, the acceptance of offering help to ALL ex-offenders regardless of faith status or crime, the women and men feel love and acceptance in a way that many had never felt in their entire lives. Fourth, by having 72 Hour Fund provide real time, tangible “face and hands of Jesus” provision, i.e., steel toed work boots, shoes, belts, classy interview-worthy women’s outfits, winter coats, food, backpacks and identification assistance (SS card applications, birth certificates) that HOPE was restored.
The take away for all of us is that even though you might not have a 72 Hour Fund in your state, you could have one! We will share the DNA on how to run one…on the cheap. But the most important lesson is that it IS possible to change a life’s trajectory. C’mon people…make it happen in your neighborhood.
04 Apr 2015
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT
As we contemplate Easter and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, most of us take comfort in the fact that someday…after we are dead…that we, too, will be resurrected like Jesus and spend eternity in His presence. This is true…BUT…we do not have to die to experience the Resurrection…it’s available to us right now…TODAY
Webster’s dictionary defines resurrection this way, “the act of causing something that had ended or been forgotten or lost to exist again, to be used again, etc.”
At Doing HIS Time Prison Ministry we see resurrection almost every day. When an ex-offender comes into DHT 72 Hour Fund and tries on new cloths, receives a hug from our ex-offender staff or walks out with luggage filled with new shoes, a winter coat, almost new shirts or blouses, dresses and a purse, they are transformed…”resurrected” into a new life of purpose, hope and love. We know this because less than 20% of every man or woman who feels God’s love through DHT 72 Hour Fund, goes back to prison after three years. The power that changes these hearts is Jesus. The delivery system that brings Jesus to these souls is the Holy Spirit working through DHT 72 Hour Fund.
Pastor Rick Warren writes:
“Can a butterfly go back into a cocoon after it’s come out as a caterpillar? Of course not. It can’t happen. Once the caterpillar becomes a butterfly, it is what it is — a butterfly. When you become a believer, you’re like that butterfly — you come out of your cocoon. It may take you some time to fly spiritually, but once you become a new creation in Christ, you are what you are. You are a new creation. So what does it mean to become a new creation in Christ? The moment you believe in Christ, there’s a spiritual metamorphosis — everything changes! This is a matter of faith and not sight. The greatest step of faith we can take in our lives is to believe what God says about who Jesus is and accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.”
Can’t say it better than Pastor Rick…
23 Mar 2015
Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew’s house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus’ followers. “What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?” Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.” Matthew 9: 10-17 The Message
Prisoners and ex-offenders love this story of Jesus as He chose to sit down and break bread with Matthew, a tax collector and his seedy companions that included prostitutes and other “sinners” in 1st Century Jerusalem. The religious elite, the church leaders, bristled and were offended at the idea that Jesus would sit down at a table and spend time with these nobodies…this riffraff. To eat with someone in Jesus’ day was an important thing, for it meant that the person accepting your invitation accepted you. Matthew was a Jew who worked as a tax collector for the Romans and therefore considered a traitor by his fellow Jewish people. Yet Jesus sat with him and ate.
We don’t really wonder too much why Jesus wanted to associate with the lower classes of people, for He makes it clear He was there to heal the sick. But do we ever look at this tale from another perspective? Why would the “sinners” want to sit down and eat with Jesus? Surely, they were curious about this man, but He was known to be a religious teacher. Every other religious leader would not make very good company, as they would likely point a finger and condemn these low class folks. So why would they want to have dinner with Jesus?
The answer is found in the way that Jesus dealt with the woman caught in adultery as recorded in John 8:7. There, Jesus challenges those without sin to cast the first stone at this woman. After the crowd disperses without throwing a rock at her, He is gentle, forgiving and kind. He is loving as He says to her, “Go and sin no more.” Not once does Jesus point the finger of accusation, or demand that she write out a long list of sins and a detailed plan as to how she will avoid sinning again. He doesn’t check up on her or make her feel like a slimy worm; something that is good for nothing. Jesus loves her, accepts her and challenges her to change by being gentle, compassionate and kind. How much do prisoners long for those same things and yet do not get them in their lives, both inside the walls and when they are released?
DHT 72 Hour Fund loves these people. They are never asked their crime or made to fill out a pledge to “never sin again.” DHT comes along side of each one and is the same “hands and face” of Jesus that He was to these people eating at Matthew’s house and with the adulterous woman. This is why Jesus attracted followers.
Do we attract followers to Jesus or do we repel them with accusations and judgment? “Let He who is without sin…”