Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Bethel Ministries aids men leaving incarceration in Idaho.

Bethel Ministries, a nonprofit organization and faith-based program located in Boise, Idaho, was established to help men leaving incarceration to change their lives to become law-abiding, productive members of society. The ministry is connected with Mountain View Church of the Brethren in Boise, and pastor David McKellip serves as director of ministry for the program.

Others involved in administering the program include a volunteer Board of Directors, and staff consisting of executive director Rob Lee, and assistant executive director Chris Roberts.

Bethel provides transitional homes where the men reside in a family-type setting. During their 6-to12-month stay, the men are matched with mentors, obtain employment, attend a structured program of life-skill classes, and participate in group and individual counseling.

Bethel Ministries was established in 2001. The program was founded to recognize the importance of developing an ongoing relationship with Christ Jesus in each person and to help men who, having great obstacles to overcome, desire the kind of help necessary to make a new life.

Those involved with Bethel believe that such new Christians need support from each other, the church, and the greater community if they are truly going to change their lives and stay out of prison. Bethel sees that the men need jobs, making of new friends, learning from educational programs, and following proper leadership in order to build a whole new way of living.

Staff spend considerable time interviewing and assessing potential Bethel candidates at prison facilities throughout Idaho. Staff also oversee the operations of the transitional homes, and meet regularly with Bethel residents to resolve problems. Staff are aided by a Leadership Council consisting of residents who are the housing coordinators and assistant coordinators, the director of ministry, and the executive director.

The first Bethel residence was a miracle of God in that while looking for a house to serve as a transitional home, a simple street sign, "Bethel," was an inspiration. The word Bethel means "House of God," and driving further down the street, a "for rent" sign was in plain view. The house owner was more than helpful in getting Bethel Ministries off the ground.

To this day, miracles from God have abounded. Over the years, three additional transition homes were added in order to accommodate more men into Bethel's program. With four homes, Bethel has capacity for 32 residents.

Bethel has received awards for it unique program. Today, more than 100 men have come through this ministry. Graduates are flourishing as they successfully continue in a new way of living with hope for their future. The ministry has well over a 90 percent success rate in graduates who have not returned to prison.

With the major economic problems faced in Idaho, however, finances continue to be a major challenge. Bethel is generally primarily funded by the men in the program. A lack of jobs locally makes it very difficult for parolees to obtain employment. In 2008, Bethel suffered from financial shortfalls much of the year, but the Lord provided just enough funds to keep solvent. Much of the year the executive director could only be paid part-time.

The board made a decision in April to close one home if the number of residents did not increase above 24 by its May 21 meeting. In May, the board voted to keep the fourth home open at least as long as the budget will support it and the number of men in the program justify it. The Lord has recently provided 26 men for the program, and three homes can only accommodate 24 men. To help with funding shortfalls, Bethel is planning fundraising projects this summer and fall.

Go to for more information. We call on all Christians to pray that Bethel’s needs will be fulfilled by the Lord.

-- Al Murrey serves as chair of the board of directors of Bethel Ministries.

Source: 6/3/2009 Newsline

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