A Ministry of Reconciliation
This Newsletter is the 7th for Bethel Ministries (Bethel). The newsletter is sent out regularly to contributors, churches, and interested public.
Bethel, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and faith-based program in Boise, Idaho, was established to help men leaving incarceration change their lives to become law-abiding, productive members of society. Bethel provides transitional homes where the men reside in a family-type setting. During their six to twelve month stay, the men are matched with mentors, obtain employment, attend a structured program of life-skill classes, and participate in group and individual counseling.
Bethel provides an invaluable service to the families of the Treasure Valley and all Idaho by preventing many newly released prisoners from re-entering communities void of rehabilitative services necessary to help such men on the right track before being on their own within the community.
News from the Chairman
Since our last Newsletter, Bethel has been blessed to receive a number of new residents. To accommodate new residents, the Leadership Council moved some graduate residents to a house called Bethel 3 that is currently set aside for graduates. Bethel now has a total of 21 residents. Our current housing capacity is 24. Based on projections, we may be at capacity later in June. Please pray for Christ-changed lives for the residents.
Bethel Ministries recently started a new program where churches can adopt Bethel as one of their outreach ministries. Adoption by a church means that a church supports Bethel’s program by offering prayers for Bethel’s residents and success for the program, and when possible, providing financial support. Churches that notify Bethel of adopting the ministry will be so listed on our web site shown below. More information on the adoption program may be found on the donations page of our web site.
To date, two churches in Boise have adopted Bethel as an outreach ministry: Mountain View Church of the Brethren and Grace Communion International.
Bethel is currently in good shape financially. However, many residents are unemployed and jobs are difficult to find, especially during the summer months when many students are looking for jobs. Please pray that our residents can find jobs.
Note From A Bethel Graduate
My name is John Smith (fictitious), but that is not nearly as important as the story I’d like to tell. I’m a registered sex offender.
This puts me in what is probably one of the most hated or disliked groups of people in the world. Sometimes we hate or dislike because we are afraid. Sometimes our fear is based on not understanding or a lack of knowledge. It is my deepest hope that this information I share will shed some light on “sex offenders” and maybe, just maybe, alleviate some of your fears and hatred for this group of people. That’s right, I used the word “people.”
We are people that made poor choices due to a distorted belief system and we are held accountable for it. However, we are not all the same. We are all somewhat different, just as you are different from other people.
Some sex offenders need to be locked up until such time as they are not a threat. I am not pretending that I know when that is, because I don’t. It’s a case by case thing. I believe that I needed a time out from society to get my life together. I know that I did not set out to be a sex offender. I did not wake one morning and decide to be a pervert. It took years for me to actually step over the line and offend.
I grew up in a dysfunctional environment. That is not an excuse. It is a fact. I grew up with no boundaries to speak of, no real concept of appropriate sexual behavior. I am not trying to justify sexual offending or defend it in any way. It is wrong. It is an inappropriate way to meet the needs we have as human beings. We all need to feel loved or needed in some way.
It’s the way we are made. If those basic needs are not met in us in a healthy way, we find ways to compensate for the unmet need. We look for something to fill that need or emptiness. A good example is water. It finds the lowest point and pools. It is the law of the universe. It’s the way it’s made. It looks for the path of least resistance to get there.
When we have unmet needs, we tend to look for the path of least resistance to get those needs met. And believe it or not, you are no exception. If we can’t get those needs met, we find ways to cope with the loss or pain, usually through drugs and/or alcohol and sometimes through a fantasy life with pornography. There are many ways to cope with emptiness or pain. Almost as many different ways as there are people in the world. I chose the sexual fantasy life to deal with my feelings of loneliness and rejection. Then to deal with the guilt, pain and shame of my “perverted and unacceptable” behavior I turned to drugs so I could live with myself.
There is also the issue of religion. When sex offenders turn to religion, is it a cop out or can they be saved or even helped by turning to God? Does God love people who commit sexual crimes?
Can God love any criminal? Doesn’t the Bible say, “For God so loved the right wing conservatives that he gave his only begotten son….”, no, wait, maybe it says “God so loved the left wing liberals…”.No, it actually says, “For God so loved the WORLD that He gave His only begotten son that WHOSOEVER believeth in Him shall have everlasting life and not perish” (John 3:16). The World. The whole WORLD and everything in it. “Nothing can separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:38-39).
It was difficult for me to accept that anyone could love me after my secret deviant life was discovered, especially God. But, I know it to be true, God truly loves me. Why else would he send His only begotten son to die for me on the cross? Knowing and believing that God loves me helped me to change. I became open to His Word. Since I had nowhere else to turn, I turned to God. People told me to have faith. They told me to pray about it.
I read in the Bible and it said the same thing, pray and have faith. So, I did. It didn’t happen overnight. Not by a long shot. But it did happen. The thing I had to do was “let go and let God”.
Do you have any idea how difficult it is for a control freak like me, to ‘let go and let God’? I’m a CONTROL FREAK!, I don’t let go of anything unless there’s something in it for me and you’re telling me to let go of my means of survival, my means of coping with the world (my addiction), and for what? Faith? You want me to let go of this and hold on to faith? Something I can’t see, smell, taste or touch? I have a difficult time imagining it, much less, holding onto it.
I kept praying and I kept talking about those things that were my weaknesses. I knew that being honest about them was the only way to get the help I so desperately needed to change them.
Letter from an incarcerated man
Hey, first I want to thank you for the updates and I pray for you and the ministry a lot. I hope you’re doing great and I’ll be seeing you around soon enough. I have about another month and a half left here. I’ve decided to try parole and give myself a chance. At first I was contemplating topping out, but that’s a pretty selfish thought. I don’t want to keep my daughter waiting any more than I have to.
So you asked about testimonies and for all the thought I’ve given to your request my faith continues and I won’t give up, because I know God won’t give up on me. Circumstances change. Situations change. At the end of the day I know God’s love is still the same, and for all the things that happen here in this life and on this physical pain, nothing can change that. That’s one of the greatest things in this life, to know that these walls are not my prison, it’s all in my head. I’m free.
Well, pastor, I’m going to sleep soon, so I hope this letter finds you well.
How to help
You may donate through PayPal or send checks made payable to Bethel Ministries, PO Box 44106, Boise, Idaho 83711-0106. Your support is always greatly appreciated.
Additional ways to donate
In addition to your prayers and monetary donations, Bethel is in need of many other types of donations including household items such as kitchen ware and appliances, draperies, furniture, such as beds, chests, washers, dryers, freezers, tables, and chairs, and also men’s clothing. Bethel can also use donated food. Contact Rob Lee or 208-724-1734 or Chris Roberts at 208-602-3885 about having your donated items picked up or where you may deliver them.