Some of what happened to Jason, I don’t even want to tell you.
To hear his whole story is heartbreaking. Born to heroin and meth addicts, his own father taught him to drink alcohol — starting when Jason was still in grade school. When Jason was staying with Grandma and his father came to visit, the little guy pleaded to come home. His father produced a six-pack and offered a cruel dare: Drink that, and I’ll take you home. Jason did it.
But the trip home never lasted long. His parents would try to get their lives together, and take their little boy in ... only to crash again — both doing prison time — and their heartbroken son would have to go away once more.
He was only 14 when his grandmother got too sick to care for him. Going home wasn’t an option anymore. Both his parents were on their way to prison, Dad for the second time.
Jason headed out to the streets. “I’d stay with friends,” he recalls. “Learned how to hustle.” School? Forget about it. He did 9th grade twice, then dropped out.
No surprise, really, that he became an addict himself — and a dealer. And no surprise either that he, like his parents, was in and out of prison over the years. Possession, selling, trafficking in stolen goods, firearms ... the list was long.
He was already a father the first time he went in; the authorities took his daughter from him. Between prison terms, he tried to reform. He’d get a good job, he’d work hard. He got
his daughter, who was now 12, out of the foster system. But relapse always seemed to be waiting for him, like a wolf, right around the corner.
No way out. No escape. That’s what it felt like. Until something changed. Your love arrived — through your support of Along Side Ministries.
Jason was doing five long years behind bars ... his second long prison sentence ... and he was desperate to make this his last. “God was trying to turn me around,” Jason says. “He was trying to cause the change in me that needed to be done.”
That’s when, by God’s grace, he found someone ready and able to help. Not another judge or jury ... not another parole officer ... not a shrink or a government bureaucrat ... but someone who would love him, and guide him into a relationship with a true Friend ... a Friend called Jesus.
When Jason discovered Along Side Ministries, it didn’t take long for the light to go on. “I knew Along Side Ministries would be the stepping stone that I needed to help me get my feet under me.”
It wasn’t a question of getting a job on the outside. Jason had skills and experience. He could go back into his previous career, in fire safety systems. “I just needed a place,” he says, “to be safe.” Safe from the old crowd. The users, the addicts, the dealers....
Jason had been transformed by the renewing of his mind, just like Romans 12:2 says. But he needed some distance, he realized, from “people that weren’t of the same mind as me.”
You gave him that safe space, through your generous giving to Along Side Ministries. Jason plunged in feet first! “I made an agreement with God,” he remembers, “that’s what I was going to do: I was going to do this program.” He attended our church services every week, he met with his mentor, he worked through our Bible studies, he gratefully drank-in all the encouragement and insight, engaging faithfully in every aspect of the ministry.
By the time Jason left prison, he was fully prepared — physically and spiritually. We had his clothes and other resources ready, so he could get right to work. And his faith? It was strong.
“Along Side Ministries is the hands and feet of Christ,” Jason declares. “If you want to know what the Christian community is supposed to be, this is where it’s at.”
It hasn’t been all roses. “It’s a tough road,” Jason admits. But “I keep my eyes on Jesus. And I keep people around me who will keep me accountable.” To this day, his friends from Along Side Ministries are his best friends. He’s living in our Graduate Housing, with his daughter, who’s now 23.
“She’s happy that she’s got her dad back,” he says with a smile. And he’s working on getting a place of his own.
In a way, you’re journeying with him. Your love has been planted in Jason’s heart. You helped change his life, by the power of God, through your strong support of Along Side Ministries.
But another Jason will need help tomorrow. Will you please help again today? You can do it for FREE! Your gift can earn you a dollar-for-dollar credit against your state taxes, due to the Arizona Charitable Tax Credit. Claim up to $400 of your gifts to Along Side if you file singly, or $800 if you file jointly.
That means, if you haven’t hit these tax limits, you can give – get it back on your taxes – and make a beautiful impact in the life of an inmate or an ex-convict. They’ll learn to walk with God, and never turn back, because of the gift you give today.
Let me hear from you quickly. And I pray God’s richest blessings upon you for your sacrifice of Christ-like compassion!
Thank you for giving the gift of HOPE! God bless you!
Yours in Christ,
P.S. For every 3 inmates released from Arizona prisons, 2 will go back in. But Along Side graduates like Jason are a different story: 92% who get out stay out. It’s God who does the work ... but it’s you who sets it all in motion. Your gift today will disciple and equip incarcerated Christians to transition successfully into our community. Please be as generous as possible. Thank you again!