Mission Behind Bars and Beyond

Summer June 2015 Newsletter

Our vision

We envision a world in which every community is equipped to welcome, support and nurture every returning citizen to re-enter society as healthy and productive citizens. Mission Behind Bars and Beyond is helping to make a safer world, one returning citizen at a time.

Thirty Two New Mentors Added this Year

Always looking to expand our volunteer base, Mission Behind Bars and Beyond continues to offer training to those interested in participating in one of our Nurture, Support and Accountability Groups. This year, we have added thirty two mentors to our program. Two new groups were formed in March from members of Shepherdsville Christian Church (Disciples) of Christ. These groups are actively involved in working with two women recently released from Dismas Charities-Diersen. In April, six people from First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Murray, Kentucky were trained and began working with a young mother who returned to their community after being incarcerated. In May, twenty students and graduates from Eastern Kentucky University's criminal justice program in Richmond, Kentucky received training. They will become involved in a variety of ways including in our mentoring program.

Mission Behind Bars and Beyond Receives $5,000 Grant

Mission Behind Bars and Beyond was the recipient of $5,000 from a new grant program established by First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Louisville, Kentucky. Through the generous contributions made by church members past and present, First Christian began a fund to help bring healing to our world. Mission Behind Bars and Beyond was one of its first recipients. First Christian Church remains an active supporter of our ministry by joining us for worship at New Life in Christ Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and with several members trained to be mentors. The Rev. Brian Gerard is the Senior Minister.

New Life in Christ Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

New Life in Christ Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is affiliated with Mission Behind Bars and Beyond. It not only provides a spiritual home for those who are behind the bars but also offers tools for living healthy, productive and faithful lives once released from prison.

Powerful Worship Experiences Transform Lives

During Holy Week, New Life in Christ Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) held its first footwashing service. Over fifty people participated in this moving service of memory and commitment. We worship every Tuesday evening at 7:00 p.m. inside Dismas Charities-Diersen located at 1218 West Oak Street, Louisville, Kentucky. You must be 18 years of age of older to join us. Cell phones are prohibited inside the facility. All are welcome.

The Power of Our Relationships

The women of Dismas Charities-Diersen were led in a book study by author, Denise Watts-Wilson. Watts-Wilson is a Mission Behind Bars and Beyond board member, volunteer and the author of, The Power of Our Relationships. This six week class explored the power of developing strong, long-lasting, healthy relationships. Denise is a retired public school teacher, founding member, John Maxwell Team of Speakers and coaches, church development consultant, leadership trainer, ordained minister, Gospel singer and Bible teacher.

Get Involved! Mission Behind Bars and Beyond is Growing

How can you support or become involved in this ground-breaking ministry?
1. Make a financial pledge to sustain the ministry.
2. Ask your congregation or organization to support Mission Behind Bars and Beyond by including this ministry in your annual budget or taking a special offering.
3.Consider welcoming a returning citizen to your community of faith.
4. Become a trained member of a Nurture, Support and Accountability Group.
5. Come worship with the women at New Life in Christ Christian Church at Dismas Charities-Diersen--all are welcome--every Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m.--1218 West Oak Street, Louisville, Kentucky.
6. Pray for this ministry and the many lives it will be touching and transforming --both inside and outside the prison.

Consider Making a Gift to Help Support and Sustain Mission Behind Bars and Beyond

We make it simple and we are ever-grateful. To make a tax deductible donation, go to our website www.missionbehindbarsandbeyond.org and use PayPal or send a check to Mission Behind Bars and Beyond, P.O. Box 22034, Louisville, Kentucky 40252

From the Pastor's Journal

Journal entry:
Sad, sad stories. I hear them over and over again. Both of A's parents are alcoholics. As a child she lived in shelters, moved around all the time, and experienced her family's evictions from their apartments. No stability. No healthy love. She was pregnant at 14. She was encouraged (enticed? tricked?) into giving up her son for adoption. Later, she married and entered into an abusive relationship. Drug taking had begun and continued. At 37, she is in prison with a 23 year old son; a 19 year old daughter who is single and has a child and a 16 year old son. The latter two are being raised by her parents (her mother has been sober for years; her father is still actively drinking). A's emotions run the gamut: anger, guilt, fear, loneliness, abandonment, ,etc. Yet, she maintains her faith in God and wants to work with people in recovery.
I listen. And I listen. There's not much to say. Such brokenness bears brutal witness. It will take years of therapy for the pain this woman carries to go away and then, again, it may never go away. I remind myself in the midst of such conversations that the healing power of the Holy Spirit cannot be underestimated. It is my hope and prayer that A will find support and acceptance in one of our Nurture, Support and Accountability Group. A life raft in a roiling sea.

Mission Behind Bars and Beyond and New Life in Christ Christian Church Co-Sponsor a Call to End Solitary Confinementt

Along with the National Benevolent Association, Mission Behind Bars and Beyond and New Life in Christ Christian Church co-sponsored an item for reflection and research to be considered by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada at its 2015 General Assembly in July in Columbus, Ohio. There are roughly 80,000 incarcerated adults and youth held in solitary confinement in the United States and Canada on any given day. Studies have documented the detrimental psychological and physiological effects of long-term isolation. Among other things, the measure calls for an end to the widespread use of prolonged solitary confinement in the United States and Canada. This will be considered and discussed during the July 22nd afternoon business session of the General Assembly.

It Works!

We continue to celebrate those returning citizens who have made a successful re-entry into their communities with the help of one of our volunteer mentoring Nurture, Support and Accountability Groups (NSAG).
Grace met with her NSAG soon after her release. She said it was an emotional first meeting. She felt loved and supported and cried tears of joy through most of their time together.
Ryan has graduated from his NSAG and was trained to be a mentor. He is now serving on a NSAG and offering the support and nurture he once received.
Cody
had no one upon his release. He is a convicted sex offender. His NSAG has become his anchor helping him establish himself in the community, reconnect with his son and find full-time employment.
Will
writes , "[T]hings are going well for me, and my family remains supportive. Work is good, still at the same place, still live in the same little studio .... I'm dating some, but nothing serious. I remain strong in my faith since finding Mission Behind Bars and Beyond while incarcerated at Luther Luckett. My Nurture Support and Accountability Group or my "knights of the round table" as I like to call them, [is] still in my life. I will be out 2 yrs in October and life is good. My sobriety and my faith in God is the key to my success. Shame it took a 10 yr prison sentence, following a lifetime struggling with drugs and alcohol to bring me back to God. Its been no bed of roses.... Living life on life's terms does present its challenges and my N.S.A.G. has always been there with advice on how to handle certain things. Take care always and God Bless. Love Will."
So you see, with your support and the support of many trained volunteer mentors, what Mission Behind Bars and Beyond is doing works!