The mission of Overcomers is to respond effectively to the needs of ex-offenders in a post-prison ministry bringing together a group of people comprising a board of directors,general staff, ex-offenders and volunteers on a non-denominational basis, through the many and varied Church fellowships, who desire to be obedient to the mandate of Jesus Christ concerning Biblical discipleship, and to help prevent crime and reduce recidivism by providing support services and with a mission to seek out, support, assist,encourage and enlighten ex-offenders from a Scriptural and Christ-like viewpoint. And to, where needed, develop a fellowship meeting for those who feel they cannot attend a local fellowship in the first instance upon release from a Correctional Centre.
The Need:- Many of the inmates and ex-offenders I have spoken with, both as I ministered to them and as I have come in contact with them during my work in the community have expressed a profound knowledge of the lack of support "on the outside". They usually are scared to death of what they will face and have expressed the fact that there is a need for a major support group for all ex-offenders. Their main fear in recidivism is the "abrupt transition back into society". In most cases there is no preparation given to them for this. It is just open the gate, shove 'em out, slam the gate behind them with a "you'll be back" attitude. Often if the ex-offender has served a long term of five years or more, everything they knew has changed and they feel completely lost. The biggest problem most ex-offenders face is fear. Fear of failure.Fear of rejection by people within the Church because of where they have been and the reasons behind it. The ex-offender will often confront the pressures and prejudices of friends and family.They often have a low self-esteem and feelings of failure, hopelessness, suspicion and apathy. Most leave prison with the same problems they had when they entered. Some have added problems that have developed whilst incarcerated. Such things as family breakdowns, enemies they may have made whilst living in close quarters whilst incarcerated, what to do with their lives from here on in, how they will survive and more. Many have to now face a world they faced before they went into prison, a world where they see no other options other than to commit another crime to survive. A world where no one will care about them or understand them or their needs. These facts are a major contributing factor to a high rate of re-arrest across Australia.Even perhaps, world-wide. Statistics from state governments in Australia place the recidivism rate at anywhere from 50-80% on average. The failure of the Corrective system to truly rehabilitate inmates world-wide is well documented. Therefore it is up to the Church to go well beyond the scope of many government and secular programs and to develop faith-based solutions to the problem of recidivism. Many studies have been made into this problem (one major study being carried out by the Washington Post, October 4 1997, and made public, the fact that there was a major failure in this arena even with special programmed courses for inmates in place. This is so in many cases of ex-offenders in Queensland's Correctional system. It has been found through research that Christian faith-based programs greatly reduce recidivism among their participants. This still however, does not fully eradicate the problem. It is up to the Church to ever look for the means to do this through the extending of the love of Jesus to these folk. Both men and women. Overcomer's program is designed to have a major role in this area. Mentors General description: Mentors do not necessarily need to be trained counselors although if they are it is even better, but mostly they need to understand the needs of these people as they reintegrate into society. The mentors will need to be friends who will show they truly care for the well being and self-esteem and Spiritual growth of the ex-offender, bearing in mind that they will be working not only with Christians, but leading others to Jesus who have sought assistance as they come to the realization that they are in need of a mentor and assistance. All mentors undergo a training program which will equip them for this work. This training will be undertaken at various venues as both numbers and time permits. It will also incorporate ongoing training as the need arises. Mentors are responsible for providing support, encouragement and guidance to ex-offenders participating in the reintegration program by meeting with them regularly to listen and to share knowledge and experience. Both mentor and participants will have input into determining with whom they will be placed. Their placement will be with the denomination of their choice. It is also an excellent opportunity for students who wish to become involved with this work in the Pastoral Care practicums of their studies and future Ministry through working alongside Overcomers staff. The mentors can be from a variety of backgrounds ranging from psychology to Theology students and those who have at some time been incarcerated in a correctional center (a twelve month probationary period alongside of a proven mentor would be required in this latter). This is not a ministry for what is often termed the "do-gooder". This is a very serious and important ministry and there must be a definite calling upon one's life to minister Christ to the fullest in this arena. This is an excellent opportunity to become involved in assisting the ex-offender to follow a life void of crime and full of Christ. The mentor should not be one who feels they would not be able to maintain confidentiality in their dealings with individual ex-offenders. They should also minister only to those of their own gender, except in the case of qualified psychologists or counselors and then only in the company of another person. For this reason it saves both time and effort in an emergency situation when an ex-offender needs immediate attention. Qualifications for Mentors 1. Must believe in the program and the participant 2. Must be relationship-oriented, especially in relationship Evangelism. 3. Must understand ex-offenders and the problems they face. 4. Must be able to encourage and support without creating dependency. 5. Must be a responsible Christian fellowshipping regularly at a local Church. 6. Must be drug free and crime free for at least 1 year prior to appointment. 7. Must be approved by local Church leaders, with personal Pastoral reference. 8. Must reside in or within quick traveling distance of an area where Overcomers is operational. 9. Must be prepared to be called on a 24 hour basis if and when required. (This would be screened by a volunteer, 24 hour answer service). Responsibilities 1. Initiate and maintain contact with the participant in prison and after release; encourage the participant to feel free to call the mentor. 2. Visit participant at least once Bi-weekly. To write to the participant whilst they are still incarcerated or call at least once per week by telephone upon their release until the participant no longer requires their assistance. 3. Maintain contact with the participant for at least six months. Upon agreement by both parties,their relationship can be continued beyond this six month period. 4. Help the participant develop a life plan and obtain resources necessary for survival. The participant is to be encouraged to take the major role in this development. 5. Give general support as the participant goes through with his/her plan. 6. Avoid personal financial involvement. Overcomers support of Mentors. Mentors will receive support from the program in the following ways: 1. An orientation meeting will be held to meet other mentors, review responsibilities and answer questions. This will be done by meeting together with the Chaplains of various Centers to develop a plan of action for the particular participant since the Chaplain will be the initial contact and will usually have a first hand understanding of the individual ex-offender concerned. 2. The Project Coordinator will interview the mentor by appointment on a monthly basis to evaluate the mentor/participant relationship. 3. Regular meetings will be held for mentors to discuss problems and exchange ideas in problem solving and ongoing training as new methods are developed. 4. If a mentor relationship develops serious problems, which can happen to the best of them, Senior staff will help solve the problem where possible or after discussion with all parties concerned, will terminate the relationship and where possible, appoint a new mentor to the case. 5. Mentors will have available to them a resource list of shelters, release houses, emergency food sources, job leads ( through both a list developed by Overcomers and an appointed local employment agency), etc. 6. Initial and on-going training will be provided for interested mentors in local Church settings. 7. For confidentiality purposes, mentors will be able to use Overcomers address or telephone number if they do not wish to disclose their own, however it is preferred that at least one other contact telephone number is used for emergency purposes. Overcomers Need:- To support this ministry, like everyone else, we have the need for prayer and financial partners. Please prayerfully consider this aspect of perhaps the most important ministry to the ex-offender.... that of continued discipleship according to the mandate in Matthew 28:20. Remembering that in today's society there is a need for financial support for a ministry to continue and meet the daily need. For further details on how you can become a support partner and for prayer needs please feel free to contact us by email. Donations are best sent by cheque or money order to our office. As a Church fellowship, you might like to consider our "Gold Coin" option...If each Church member donated a gold coin once per week toward this ministry, imagine what God could do in discipling these folk in a year. Please feel free to contact us and we will advise of further details involving this area. Thank you for taking the time to read this page and please do come visit us again. Mentor and financial support partner applications can be made directly to our office. 192 Browns Plains Road, Browns Plains, Brisbane 4118 Telephone 617(07)3800 5813 Facsimile (07) 3809 0707 Email: Overcomers@mpx.com.au
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