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Women who answer God's call provide valuable local ministries (1/11/04)

Pastors predict bleak future if local casinos open (12/28/03)

Soap, figurines, candles keep books company in Christian stores (12/21/03)

In order to form a more perfect union (11/30/03)

Federal Marriage Amendment receives Fellowship’s endorsement (11/23/03)

Drug czar congratulates Teen Challenge (11/16/03)

Christian fiction no long back-shelf item (10/19/03)

DREAM3 benefits churches (10/19/03)

Youth rise to DC03 challenge (10/12/03)

Ministry uses drama, music to touch city for Christ (9/28/03)

Displeased viewers protest raunchy programs (9/21/03)

Grit, determination key to cities blocking cable pornography (8/31/03)

Economic slump doesn't always derail giving (8/24/03)

Ruling threatens family, Christian leaders say (8/17/03)

Anti-aging options require balanced approach to health, beauty (8/10/03)

Convoy of Hope reaches out to inner-city neighborhood (7/27/03)

Fight for the flag moves to nation’s schools (7/20/03)

Drama speaks volumes to alienated veterans (7/13/03)

Church's integrity well received following nightmarish ordeal (6/29/03)

Tornadoes cut wide swath across nation's midsection (6/22/03)

Accountability partners provide human feedback that filters don't (6/15/03)

Checking out your horoscope? God advises you to skip it (6/8/03)

Christian filmmakers pursue wider market success (5/25/03)

Intervention is key to preventing suicide (5/18/03)

Adoption often right decision for young expectant mothers (5/11/03)

Dallas-based ministry keeps inmates out of jail (4/27/03)

Medical analysis of Jesus' death generates interest (4/20/03)

Small-town church reaches community (4/13/03)

Young married couples lulled by false sense of security (3/30/03)

Virtual gambling days may be numbered (3/23/03)

Contemporary Christian music copes with its continuing success (3/16/03)

A/G prayer event set for gathering in nation's capital (3/9/03)

Volunteers give church voice in community (2/23/02)

Federal law protects churches in zoning battles (2/16/03)

Singles find cyberspace dating not always match made in heaven (2/9/03)

Predators often plan strategies long in advance (1/19/03)

The Cross and the Switchblade still makes impact 40 years later (1/12/03)

Frontline Reports

2002 PE Report stories

2001 News Digest stories

2000 News Digest stories

Dallas-based ministry keeps inmates out of jail

By Isaac Olivarez (April 27, 2003)

Many inmates leave prison with little or no money, no job opportunities and nowhere to sleep. Some have no family contacts. Consequently, two-thirds of all parolees are rearrested within three years — most within the first six months after release.

Exodus Ministry, a nondenominational aftercare organization in Dallas, is working to reverse the trend. Through Exodus, offenders with a genuine desire to stay out of prison are selected by a network of prison chaplains and assigned a mentor while still in jail. When released, the ex-offenders and their families are housed in the ministry’s 20-unit apartment complex. There, they begin an intense, Christ-centered re-entry program for six months. Residents are subject to random drug tests, and six staff members teach classes relating to budgeting, battling addictions, spiritual growth through Bible study, parenting and job readiness each week. Attendance in the classes, held three nights per week, is mandatory, as is Sunday church attendance. With support from more than 150 churches in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex as well as surrounding areas as far away as Houston, Exodus offers the classes and fully furnished apartments free of charge.

“Nationwide there will be more than 600,000 people released from prison this year,” says Exodus Executive Director Jerry Groom, an endorsed Assemblies of God chaplain for 20 years. “We focus on families so we can keep children from making the same mistakes their parents did.”

While ex-offenders attend classes and prepare résumés, their children — there are currently 21 at the complex — receive attention at preschool day care, after-school tutoring and summer camps.

“I never thought I would be a mother to my children like I am now,” says Tammy Ferrell, current Exodus resident who spent 12 years in and out of jail on drug charges. “It was only possible by the grace of God.” Ferrell says she accepted Christ as Savior in her jail cell in March 2000 after realizing she couldn’t break her addiction from crack cocaine without help.

“I asked God, ‘Save me right now because I’ve tried everything,’ ” recalls Ferrell, 39. “I tried rehabs, tried quitting on my own, and I had even gotten a job and found new friends. But I didn’t give my life to Christ, and that was the only way I could be saved from drugs.” With the help of Exodus, Ferrell is applying for jobs and looking to buy a home for herself and her four children once she graduates from the program.

Groom, who helped start Exodus 15 years ago, says three residents last year purchased homes after graduating, and none has returned to prison.

“One out of five individuals in our nation is impacted by crime, which represents more than 50 million Americans,” says Groom, retired director of chaplains for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. “The church has the answer to bring healing and restoration to all of them, and the answer is Jesus Christ.”


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