“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given to us.” 2 Corinthians 1:4
I spoke with a woman today who exemplifies the heart of Jesus — his love, compassion, mercy and grace -- in a special way. Christine Cox is so moved to help men and women with addictions and incarceration that she has been involved in prison ministry for over 20 years and specifically with Broken Chains Ministry of Akron the past 16 years.
According to the Broken Chains Ministry website:
- One in six people in Ohio have a felony history.
- One in 175 people in Ohio are currently incarcerated.
- Approximately 2,100 people return to the local Akron area community from incarceration every year.
Since 2004, (Broken Chains has) been helping people successfully return from incarceration to a purpose-driven life as contributing members of our community with the support of a 50-organization collaborative known as the Summit County Reentry Network (SCRN).
The ministry’s award-winning, real-world work force readiness program, the Urbean Cafe, has contributed more than $1.6 million dollars to the local economy since 2011.
Broken Chains mission is based upon Restorative Justice; a collaborative relationship with the judicial system that supports clients through restoration of identity, faith, work, health, relationships and hope.
Broken Chains describes faith as the heart of its mission, and it shares that faith through weekly services, prison visitation, Bible study, small group gatherings and one-on-one mentoring.
WOW – Women for Oppressed Women learned of Broken Chains’ new endeavor, Lydia’s Home, through one of our own, Chris Uhl. Chris had long been a supporter of Broken Chains, having coordinated fundraising dinners for the organization at Guy’s Party Center.
Broken Chains Ministry had a vision and prayed for many years desiring to open a men’s home to provide the support system needed when they are released from jail or prison. “We go to great lengths to be there for them and to help ensure they have every opportunity for success,” said Christine. Over the years of ministry, however, a great many women began volunteering. The Lord revealed that the direction to go was to open a woman's home first —Lydia’s Home is that answer to prayer.
“Lydia’s Home will give women struggling with addiction the opportunity to transition to the community using a faith-based curriculum and mentoring approach,” said Dennis Shawhan, executive director of Broken Chains Ministry. “We’ve seen the drastic increase in opiate use and related deaths in Summit County, and we are dedicated to restoring and saving lives through a supportive housing program that will empower women throughout their recovery and set them up for success long after they complete the program.”
Lydia’s Home is named after the biblical character of the same name whose life was transformed by Jesus Christ. As a result, she opened her home as a place of ministry, worship and hospitality.
The home is located in Green and was purchased through money raised in a variety of methods: Bike for Mike, an annual 3-mile ride event in Uniontown; local church missions; local ministries; foundations; and corporate and individual sponsors. Many people also donated their services for repairs and restorations to bring this old home up to code. Windows, carpet, furniture, paint, cleaning and even a cement driveway were donated by a contractor—and much more!
"It has been back breaking work,” Christine states, “But it will be a “gem” when completed. Many volunteers including many couples have been involved and are contributing to the ministry's success. It is a unique ministry."
She explains that many of the women that they work with have drug/pharmaceutical addictions and low level crimes. Lydia's Home will provide six women at a time temporary housing and help in a very structured program. The home will be staffed twenty-four hours a day. They will be immersed in the love of Christ. Help will be given to change the old ways of thinking. They will be taken to church services, recovery groups, Christ-centered programs including crafts, cooking, etc. They will also learn life skills, financial literacy, GED Training, and learn how to be responsible in society and as an employee.
The women will have no rent for a minimum of 60 days, then will attend a job readiness program at Akron Urban League and will be assigned a job coach for up to a year to help find suitable employment. It helps take away the added stress of having to find a job right away.
"We want to give them the opportunity to learn how to live their lives differently,” Christine says. “They will work with safe Christian employers and use their skills. They will have a fresh start, with Jesus holding their hand."
Christine has witnessed much success during her years in the ministry and says, “it’s what keeps my heart engaged—there is hope through the power of Jesus! We believe in the one step program and our success is driven by acceptance of Jesus Christ and beginning to walk with Jesus.”
Broken Chains Ministry is thrilled that WOW has joined efforts to spread the gospel and change lives. WOW has set a goal this year to raise money for Lydia's Home, through various fundraising efforts. The Lord has already graciously provided us with more than half our goal! If you would like to help us reach our goal, please contact Kathie Brown at email@example.com to learn how. In the meantime, Broken Chains Ministry asks that you join them in lifting up these prayer requests.
- Please pray for wisdom and discernment for Broken Chains Ministry as they start to write the policies and guidelines for Lydia’s Home.
- Please pray for wisdom as Broken Chains Ministry starts interviewing prospective clients and employees for Lydia’s Home.
- Please pray for Tamela Shawhan who will be leaving her position to be Operations Manager/Case Manager for Lydia’s Home.
- Please pray for the ladies coming to Lydia’s Home to have a receptive heart to God’s Word, come to saving faith in Christ, and acquire the spiritual disciplines to be overcomers and disciples of Christ.
- Please pray for the resources necessary to complete the renovation and initial launch of Lydia’s Home.
-- L. Pruitt © July 2017