A few months ago, my son was due to come out of prison after nearly 9 years, and as much as I yearned for him to come home, my home unfortunately was not within the probation guidelines. I was so scared and sad, knowing how our society is, and loving my son, and not wanting him to be homeless. I was praying and trusting God, but being human, it still can be scary, until God brings you through to the other side.
Another mother that I had become friends with at the prison, told me about a place called “Restoration Destination”, and she shared with me that another gentleman who I knew, and my son also knew, had gone there upon his release. She phoned him, and he in turn immediately talked to the organization’s director. She then called me back, and I was to call as soon as possible, as he was leaving on vacation. I called and was greeted with such kindness and sincerity. The director immediately calmed my fears and explained the application process. (This all happened in just one afternoon!) His team sent out a packet to my son at the prison by emailing it to his release officer. Believe it or not, my son received the packet the very next day! Since that day, I felt that I was no longer alone. I had people by my side, to answer questions, and help us through this process, and most importantly, people full of patience and love – no judgment.
I was invited to “Fall Fest” and told I could have a tour of the community, so my niece and I drove out to the community. When we arrived, it was so awesome – so peaceful and quaint looking – I already felt at “home”. We walked over to the church and were greeted by so many friendly people. The director introduced himself, and I was so happy to meet this man who had been so kind and helpful. I even saw some familiar faces from my home church!
Then, I saw Maggie. I first met Maggie and Dick Witherow back in the 80’s, when we attended the same church, and I was involved and familiar with their rehab-ministry, Regeneration Center. They have always been the hands and feet of God- and it was such a joy to see her once again!
I felt so much love, “family”, and acceptance in that service. God’s spirit was truly there! We enjoyed all the creative comedy routines, the music, and the message by Pastor Mike.
We then walked next door to the fellowship hall, where we were served a lovely meal. That is where I met the rest of the staff, and so many other kind people. Everyone was so encouraging and willing to answer any questions I had.
We were taken for a tour around the neighborhood and we were invited in to see the “Transition House”, where it was explained is where my son would first live. It was a lovely little house, with cupboards full of food. In one of the bedrooms, sat a brand-new bed, made up with a new navy-blue comforter, and a new full set of towels, folded at the end of bed. On the bed-side table, a variety of hygiene products and snacks were neatly arranged, which we learned were awaiting the arrival of a new resident that they were expecting that very afternoon. Every new resident receives all these new items, including a new bed, upon their arrival. My eyes filled with tears, as I can’t imagine, coming out of a hot, dirty, violent prison, with nothing, only to be welcomed with love and peace, and given your “own” brand new things!
We left that day so excited and so impressed with what we had just experienced, and the help of so many supportive people!
I was so thankful and wept when I received the call, that my son had been excepted. My tears were tears of thanks, but also tears of relief. I knew my son would not be homeless on the streets, instead he would be welcomed “home” in a Godly community with men he could trust, that would help him through this transition.