America has a problem with prison recidivism, with the formerly incarcerated cycling in and out of jail, again and again. In Kansas, the percentage of released prisoners who return within 36 months is 36% and it's higher in other parts of the country.

If we told you about a prison reentry program with a 4% recidivism rate, you would probably say, “let’s find a way to duplicate what they’re doing.” That’s exactly what’s happening with the opening this month of two more Working Men of Christ Discipleship Homes. The program that started in 2014 with just one home is now up to 10 homes and growing.

Home number nine will be the House of New Beginnings, at 3123 Woodland Ave. in Kansas City, MO, which opens on Sat., Dec. 7. House number 10, is the reopening of The House of Paul, at 706 N. Piatt, in Wichita. A grand reopening for this house is scheduled for Sun., Dec. 15.

It Worked for Spencer

Spencer Lindsay is the founder of Working Men of Christ (WMOC). He openly shares his story of repeat incarceration. It was during his fifth incarceration in a Kansas prison that he finally figured out his “expected end” or purpose. Although Lindsay had been saved in 1992, it took him 17 years to finally get it.

“The Holy Spirit enlightened me to the passage in Romans 12:2 ‘but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,’” begins Lindsay. “This was my fifth trip back to prison, so I made a conscious decision to renew my mind to the Word of God.”

After a year, the Holy Spirit put "The Captivity Series: The Key to Your Expected End.” By Katie Souza in his path. After just three chapters he was caught up in the message. By the end, God had given him his purpose and “expected end.”

“I had a plan from God, the plan was to start a Bible correspondence incentive course using The Captivity Series Workbook,” said Lindsay. “Before I was released from prison I had the entire vision written out for the

Bible course.”

Lindsay did just that. Shortly after prison, he was able to connect with Souza and one of her presentations. The two have developed an ongoing working relationship and the program he developed in prison has reached more than 1,200 inmates in Kansas and 13 other states.

Discipleship Homes

But what about the houses? When he was released from prison in 2011 Lindsay went to a discipleship home called My Friend’s House in Sabetha, KS.

There, he received the kind of support he needed to help him stay on his new path.

It’s just plain old discipleship -- teaching biblical precepts, while modeling and guiding others toward living righteously as followers of Jesus Christ.

“When you’re looking for a new path, you need the body of Christ around you to teach you how to do it,” said Lindsay.

The house was just what he needed and he realized it was also what other returning prisoners needed to succeed.

The Model

Lindsay was released from jail in 2011, began his working men of Christ Bible Correspondence incentive course in 2012 and opened his first discipleship house in 2014

Jeremiah House, located just south of downtown Wichita, was WMOC's first discipleship house. This house can accommodate 12 men and one full-time staff member who lives in the house. Not all of the men in WMOC homes are returning from prison. Some are homeless or facing challenges and they’re referred to WMOC.

Prayer and Bible study are an essential part of WMOC life. There are daily devotionals at 7 a.m. for those who don't have to be at work and evening Bible study from 6 to 6:30 p.m. and a family-style meal from 5 to 6 p.m. each evening that's prepared by one of the residents.

Every resident has one weekly chore that they sign up for. Residents are expected to work, and if they don't have a job, they're required to do 20 hours of community service each week.

Free transportation is provided to get residents to court-related appointments. Additional transportation can be provided for a fee.

There are weekly reports and monthly evaluations. Other support services include resume writing, marriage counseling, employment skills evaluation, financial planning education and budgeting assistance, just to name a few. 

Acceptance into the house is by application backed up by interviews with two different WMOC staff members before they’re approved, and not all applicants are approved.

The cost per resident is $75 a week for the first two weeks and $110 per week, thereafter. The fee includes utilities as well as most meals. The average stay is six to nine months.

Duplication

The successful model has been duplicated nine times, with some houses open for women. The other houses are:

• House of Joshua, Topeka

• House of Ruth, Topeka,

• House of Timothy, Wichita

• House of Hezekiah, Manhattan

• House of Jabez, Neodesha

WMOC partnered with an organization for the opening of two homes in Sedalia, Mo. They are:

• House of Ethel

• House of Daniel.

Mentioned previously:

• House of Paul, Wichita

• New Beginnings

New Church relationships

The House of Paul is “officially” reopening in Wichita with the support of the members of Saint Mark United Methodist Church. Both the house and Saint Mark are located in the 67214 zip code, which is the No. 1 ZIP code in the state, and No. 9 in the country, for returning offenders.

Saint Mark had been working to support the returning-offender population, but decided to do more once they met Lindsay.

During the past 1.5 years, members of the church’s men’s ministry have been working to renovate the house. When it opens this month, members of the church will service the house spiritually: providing discipleship support, mentoring, and other hand’s on support to help the men successfully reenter.

WMOC will officially operate the house, but Pastor Robert Johnson, Saint Mark’s senior pastor, says the ultimate goal is for the church to purchase the house from WMOC and successfully operate it, similar to the arrangement WMOC has in Sedalia.

The New Beginnings House is a partnership with New Reflections Technical Institute in Kansas City, MO. The school provides CDL, call center representative, administrative assistant, and computer user support training. The school wanted a housing program and they approached WMOC.

Residents in the house will be able to take advantage of training at New Reflections. They'll be supported spiritually by the members of Macedonia Baptist Church, Rev. John Brooks, senior pastor. The members of Macedonia, similar to Saint Mark, will provide the spiritual and discipleship support for New Beginnings residents. Lindsay says the goal now is to open four homes in the Kansas City area.

The Kansas City grand opening will be Sat., Dec. 7, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The grand reopening for the House of Paul will be on Sun., Dec. 15, following church.

What WMOC Needs

WMOC is a non-profit Christian ministry. In addition to cash donations, they need toiletries, beds and bedding, and 7-passenger vans.

You can find out more about Working Men of Christ at www.workingmenofchrist.org or call 316-883-2015.

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