From the Desk of Ken Hawley:

I’ve come to realize in the nearly 20 years I’ve been ministering inside Maine’s prisons and jails that doing ministry inside lock-up is the easy part. It is extremely important, but relatively easy. The hard part is helping our young people successfully transition back into our communities and into our churches.

When those who have been incarcerated are released, they face significant and immediate challenges in sustaining personal and spiritual growth, finding housing and employment, building safe and healthy relationships, and integrating back into their families and communities.

The term “Re-entry Support” acknowledges that practical supports, creative programs, along with opportunities for healing within the context of community are imperative for these challenges to be transformative.

“I can tell you first-hand that leaving prison can be as traumatic as arriving.
I wonder what path my life would have taken if there had been a program like The Transformation Project in Westbrook when I was released for the first time at 17.”
(Todd, 32 years old)

“Really depressed, I isolated myself, and began cutting myself. I broke into people’s homes, got arrested and was sent to lock-up. I thought for sure when I got out I’d never go back. But, I got sent back again and again.”
(Rhiannon, 20 years old)

“Now I am about to face the scariest test — I expect to be released from Cumberland County Jail this fall. There are so many unknowns ahead and I do not want to go back to my old neighborhood. That’s why I’m praying for The Transformation Project!”
(Damion, 18 years old)

I’ve also come to realize that the key to seeing Jesus Christ transform these lives and our communities is the body of Christ.

Churches, what if the you could actually provide a home, employment, mentoring, life skills, church services, Bible studies, discipleship? Would you do so? You can! All these things can happen under the roof of 907 Main Street, Westbrook.

What can we say to young people like Todd, Rhiannon, and Damion when they ask us for help? Like so many others coming out of lockup, they’ve grown up with little or no guidance, stability, or structure in their lives. They’ve made mistakes — often serious ones — but have paid the price, and have demonstrated a willingness to change and grow in their relationship with Christ. However, without the support of the Church in place, when these young people leave corrections they’re destined to fail.

Unfortunately, once out and on their own, without the supportive community of the Church to help them transition, they find the outside world just as hard and uncaring as when they left it.

“They saw potential in me that I didn’t. They wanted me to succeed in life.”
(Josh, 23 years old, as shared in an interview at The Transformation Project)

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