I like to suggest that our 12-month residential Spiritual Recovery Program is like a three-legged stool (see my blog on 6/5/09) where one leg represents working on our program here. Another leg is to find a home church and a spiritual mentor and the third leg is to get a 12-step home group and a 12-step sponsor. Any man in our Program will have a solid recovery if he stands on these three legs.
As sort of an adjunct to that network, some specialized groups have made commitments to support our men in their recovery and actually come here into our facility. Last week (1/29/10) I mentioned the Monday night Bible study that a group of men have been doing here for almost four years.
A new program that here at Helping Up Mission is The Philemon Ministry. It was created here in Baltimore for men who have been incarcerated – especially focusing on men just recently released. Frequently these guys made some serious spiritual commitments while incarcerated, but once released often find it difficult to get a good support system going.
The Philemon Ministry is the outgrowth of a successful ministry to men behind bars. It provides critical support a man needs once he gets out, to help empower him to successfully reintegrate back into the community. The program centers on a weekly small group (about a dozen men) looking for spiritual support and accountability. Together they explore personal concerns and apply Biblical principles to address issues like anger, dependability, faithfulness, employment, marriage, goal-setting and reconciliation with family members.
Philemon was the name of a spiritual leader in the church at Colosse who was charged by the Apostle Paul to rehabilitate Onesimus, a man Paul had led to faith while inprisoned in Rome. Onesimus was a run-away slave from Philemon and Paul sent him back. Paul expected both men to do the right thing toward each other. The story is, of course, found in the New Testament book of Philemon.
The Philemon Ministry has meetings at different locations in the city and started another group here at Helping Up Mission last week. In 2009, 80% of our clients had been incarcerated at some point in the past – many in just the past year. The Philemon Ministry will be a valuable support to them. We are very thankful for the support so many people offer to any man in need here in our city, but especially to the men of Helping Up Mission. The Philemon Ministry is one that does both, and we are all grateful.
Pastor Gary Byers
Spiritual Life Director