Editor’s Note: In this article, Jonathan Lewis shares his perspectives on mentoring recently released men who are residents at Liberty Ministries 12 month residential aftercare program. Mr. Lewis is the Director of Residential Program, and he shares his insights and experiences in this interview with Rick DiLaurenzo, Editor, www.prisonmentoring.com
Liberty Ministries has served countless ex-offenders and trained, supported and partnered with numerous churches and organizations to assist recently released persons in making a successful transition back into society. While we are not always privileged to plant, water and witness the “increase” in the lives of all of our residents, we have been blessed to see God’s redemptive plan at work at Liberty Ministries
(Rick) Explain Liberty’s residency program for recently released prisoners and how it works in general.
(Jonathan) Liberty Ministries is a 12-month, Christ-centered, residential aftercare program that helps the recently released successfully return to society. Currently, each resident is offered personalized counseling, strategically partnered with appropriate staff or volunteers, exposed to sound Biblical teaching through vetted curricula, and presented with employment and career readiness training. The aftercare facility is located in Schwenksville, PA.
(Rick) What problems do recently released prisoners usually stumble over?
(Jonathan) I would argue that the most significant issue that recently released prisoners struggle with is making good decisions. Many of the residents are used to an unhealthy decision making process: identify a goal; strive toward the goal but arrive at the belief that the goal is unattainable; criticize themselves, associates, and the goal; and determine the goal, and the process, is worthless. Aesop’s fable, The Fox and the Grapes, illustrates this process well.
(Rick) How can mentors help – do they need to be professionals?
(Jonathan) Mentors are an invaluable aspect of the reentry process at Liberty Ministries. Mentors are often able to coach, counsel, and tutor residents in ways that the staff cannot. It is somewhat a myth that mentors must be reentry specialist or penologist of some sort to be effective. A mentor needs to be mature in his faith and have a desire to want to help fellow Christians.
(Rick) Can you provide guidance for new mentors?
(Jonathan) A wise man once said, “one of the most compelling questions any Christian can ask is this: What am I doing today that will guarantee my impact for Jesus Christ in the next generation?” One plausible, and respectable, answer is mentoring. A new mentor should spend time with seasoned mentors, and learn about the population that they are serving. At Liberty Ministries we share our experiences with both new and seasoned mentors, and I, personally, am available for guidance and input. I respect the effort of each mentor and want to assist them in their relationship with their mentee.
(Rick) Would you give us an example of a resident, where mentoring help was critical for his success?
(Jonathan) A former resident, Ray, remains in a mentoring relationship that began in 2012. When Ray met his mentor, he was introduced to budgeting practices, computer training, and techniques on how to begin and maintain positive relationships. Ray was, perhaps, most impacted by his mentor’s invitation to visit his home and to spend time with his family. Ray has continued to accompany his mentor to Bible studies and his son’s baseball games, and he is doing well in life. This is an outcome made possible by a caring mentor!
(Rick) How can our readers contact you for more information on volunteering as a mentor?
(Jonathan) If you are interested in more information about becoming a mentor, please contact me, Jonathan Lewis, by phone and/or email (Phone:610-287-5481, JonathanL@libertyministries.us) I, and the rest of the Liberty Ministries personnel, look forward to hearing from you. God Bless.
Editor’s Note: As a volunteer mentor at Liberty Ministries, Schwenksville, Pa., I have enjoyed a growing relationship with a recently released inmate who is a member of their 12 month residency program. He is employed full-time, and he is learning to cope with Life’s day to day issues. He is growing emotionally and spiritually, making much better decisions, and looking ahead to a much brighter future! (Rick DiLaurenzo, editor, www.PrisonMentoring.com)
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. A generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your acts mighty.” (Pro 27:17, Psalm 145:4)