The Mission Church is working to help people find God’s plan and purpose for their life after prison.
The United States has about 2.3 million people in correctional facilities. That’s more, per capita, than any other nation on earth.
What many of these people desperately need is assurance that someone—anyone—cares for their well-being. Unfortunately, when they’re released, they often end up in the same circumstances that led to their initial confinement.
Myron Pierce, the lead pastor of Mission Church which is one of World Challenge’s US partners, has been given a heart for prison ministries and to introduce those who have been locked away to a God who cares deeply about their lives and has plans for their futures.
He and his team have started offering transitional living opportunities, ways to help people move successfully from confinement into Godly life outside.
How did you and your team get started with Hope Houses?
This ministry was birthed from the dream of men and women coming out of jail and having an opportunity to get on their feet and stay on their feet.
We decided that since we’re the local church, it’s our responsibility to take on this issue of mass incarceration. We get involved in the jails and prisons and then provide a safe place where people can land and transition, not just back into society but also into a new life with Christ.
We started the program a little under a year ago, and the first Hope House was actually our church building. We didn’t have an actual house yet.
It wasn’t the best transitional living space, but we said, ‘Let’s just work with what God’s given us.’ So that’s where we started.
In the last year, we’ve worked with 60 inmates and have 6 currently living in our Hope Houses.
What does going through this program look like?
We’re in the jails and youth prisons on a consistent basis and let inmates know about the Hope Houses. After they’re released, we leave it up to each individual—if they’re serious—to get in touch with us.
They have to be invested, willing to commit to discipleship.
Then we do everything we can to help them. We take a complete approach to helping prepare them for success: practical knowledge, emotional counseling and spiritual discipline.
We focus on teaching them life skills like budgeting and resume writing. Then there’s case management where our social workers meet with them once a week to make sure they understand any restrictions they need obey and help them negotiate seeing their families and kids.
The most important part, though, is the recovery and discipleship groups for Biblical instruction and accountability. If the men and women want to be part of the Hope Houses, they’re responsible for making sure that they’re part of these groups.
We really want to focus on each person’s readiness before they leave. Some will need more time than others in an environment that’s conducive to their walk with Christ.
Who is one person in the program whom you’re proud of?
I crossed paths with a young man named David* in the jail and extended an invitation for him to join our Hope Houses.
His situation was pretty rough. He grew up in a home where his dad wasn’t around, and his neighborhood was a gang-infested environment. To make matters worse, he was cast off and called crazy because he had some mental health issues. At some point, he got arrested and found himself truly isolated.
We helped him get out of jail; we were there when he was released, and now he’s in the re-entry program. He’s an active member of our community and being discipled. He’s taking his medication and in a much better mental state. He’s being a great dad, and that’s really important to us as well.
We’re incredibly thankful for his progress and how God is healing his life.
*(For the privacy and security of the individual, a pseudonym has been used.)