In January 2018, with a new thirteen- member Board, we began redefining the vision of Crossroads. We initially thought if we had 100% job placement…that was success! We accomplished that goal but soon realized that though employment was a variable of success, it was not the only one.
In July 2019, we began a program that we call “Firm Foundation.” This thirty- day ministry program is designed for our residents when they first arrive at the Mission House. During this time, the men are not allowed to work outside of the Mission but they are to use this time to establish their thoughts and cement their relationship with Jesus Christ.
At Crossroads we believe that Jesus in his sermon on the mount in Matthew 7:24-27 outlines what it means to build your life on a Firm Foundation. Jesus describes himself, as well as obedience to the words he has spoken in this passage, as an example of building your house on the Rock, the Firm Foundation of Christ. Apart from Christ we are like the foolish man Jesus describes to us in verse 26. He hears the words of Jesus but doesn’t do them…his house is like a house built upon the sand. This is a reality check for all of us. We often build our lives upon the sinking sand of money, a job, material possessions, relationships, addictions and this list goes on and on.
At Crossroads we understand this and we are giving the first thirty days to God believing that “He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to ] perfect and complete it.” Philippians 1:6
In this 30 day curriculum, they will be exposed to various teachings involving many of the men in our Christian Community. We will teach financial responsibility, instruction in relational behavior, offer one-on-one mentoring-discipleship, introduce them to the joy of serving others through the Storehouse, encourage them to use the downtown YMCA with the six memberships given to us, watch the Jesus film together, attend daily lunch gatherings called Promise Keepers ( a ministry of Good Samaritan Counseling) and participate in regular Bible teachings
Crossroads is committed to this restoration process and we understand the need for these men to have a safe place to stay, but we want to provide so much more for them than just that. We know change rarely occurs in isolation. Realizing this important aspect of the healing process, we match up each resident with a man of faith to walk with them mentoring and discipling each individual to help them not only become “job ready” but “life ready.” We call these men Life Coaches.
We Might Have the Answer
American correctional facilities are known for their high recidivism rates, which is the revolving door that keeps bringing inmates back to our jails. Nationally 76% of all inmates end up back in jail within 5 years. Isn’t it time that we as a community try to facilitate a change? We believe that together we can make a difference. We have a window of opportunity. Getting a job is an important way to reduce one’s chances of repeating the prison cycle.
We understand this fact. We have partnered with many local businesses who want to join us in the solution. These businesses have offered to help our residents even though many have felony records.
In Cook County, Illinois, a 2017 study found we need to focus on mental health treatment, substance abuse recovery, and job training to give prisoners the tools to survive outside of prison walls.
Our programs are designed not only to give them tools “to get by” but tools “to get ahead.” We not only are making them job ready but life ready.” Our residents participate in various accountability groups throughout our community and fill out a weekly activity sheet in order to ensure their progress.
The Bureau of Justice statistics tracked over 400,000 released prisoners from 2005-2010 and found that 2/3 were rearrested within 3 years of their release and 3/4 were rearrested with 5 years. In Thomas County, GA, about 90% and in Colquitt County, GA, about 85% of the jail population was made up of repeat offenders. Of that group, 50% were probation violations. This study found that recidivism starts with treating the root problems:
- Drug and alcohol addiction issues
- Mental illness
- Lack of Education
- Unstable home environments
- Workforce that is notoriously unfriendly to ex-cons
Because we realize the problem is multi-faceted, we do not attempt to treat everyone with a generic approach. There is no one size fits all. Our programs are individualized and are carried out through our Life Coaches. These men mentor, disciple and help them map out a plan for their life.
A reduction in crime could have big payoffs for the county. Close to 1/2 of its budget is in some way related to arresting, trying and holding prisoners.
This is a win for everyone. We must realize that we cannot incarcerate our way out of this problem. When we help just one person, we are in reality helping everyone. We are walking with them and giving them hope. We are coaching them to be independent and a contributor of society.
“The values and character of a person’s household also matters,” said Sheriff Shealy of Lowndes County, GA. Once offenders are released from prison they may likely return to the same home where they got into trouble.
At Crossroads we want to create a safe place. A place of love and encouragement. A place of healing and restoration…a place where you can share your struggles but also celebrate your victories. We know change rarely occurs in isolation so we encourage interaction among our residents.
Ms. Gale Buckner, who once was Head of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice and chief of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, asks why do some criminals go back to crime and others don’t? She says it is because some have a strong support network. That makes a big difference. “Without a strong network of support, even if you want to do the right thing, it’s easy for people to get discouraged and slip back into their old habits. But if we surround them with the right environment, they are going to be more likely to succeed.”
We offer our residents Christ, but we also offer ourselves. We can no longer just throw money at the problem and think it will go away. These men are at a crossroads in their life. It’s a choice. They can continue walking down the familiar road, the road that led them to their addiction and incarceration. They can continue with their same “friends”, their same environment or they can choose life. A new road where someone will walk with them and help them navigate the change in their life. Their old “support team” led them on this path of destruction. We encourage new relationships, first with Christ and then with his people.
Do faith-based addiction recovery programs work? The short answer is “Yes”. Over 400 studies have been conducted on the role of faith in addiction recovery and these studies found a success rate of 40-60% in most faith-based programs. This is significantly higher than the success rate of programs that do not incorporate faith. What makes these programs a success?
We are a faith-based Christian Ministry. We believe real change starts on the inside and then works it’s way to the outside. We pray that lives are transformed by the Gospel message. They quickly realize they are not alone but we walk with them through their struggles. We desire to treat the whole person bringing restoration to their lives. Above all, we show them love…and lovingly hold these men accountable.
- Burks, Benjamin. Do Faith-Based Addiction Recovery Programs Work?, https://rurecovery.com/faith-based-addiction-recovery-programs/work.
- Hatcher, Marian. 76% of All Inmates End Up Back in Jail Within 5 Years. Here’s How I Broke the Cycle. https://www.vox.com/first-person/2017/8/8/16112864/recidivism-rate-jail-prostitution-break-cycle.
- Stephen, John. Addiction, Mental Illness, Joblessness Pave Path Back to Prison for Georgia Re-Offenders, https://www.sentinel-echo.com/cnhi_network/addiction-mental-illness-joblessness-pave-path-back-to-prison-for/article_d83363ac-5fc0-50c8-8027-03ce351a3c13.html.