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Greg became the first one of our guys to return to prison through the FRONT door when he visited Gander Hill as a guest speaker for New Beginnings - Next Step this morning. This has long been a dream of mine, for no one can speak to the experiences of our guys, no one can bring the truth, or the hope, like our guys themselves. This kind of thing was never permitted before and I’m deeply grateful to Warden Akinbayo for the chance to bring a former prisoner back inside with me. Greg spoke eloquently and powerfully about his journey from incarceration to freedom and success to a large and rapt group of our members, as well as - for this special occasion - prison staff including Warden AK himself. It took an enormous amount of courage for this young man to go back there today. (Others have turned me down). It also represented a great victory, both for Greg, as well as for our organization. What Greg shared touched many and will help prepare men for the hard work that lies ahead when they’re released. The response to his testimony was tremendous! He was treated like a rockstar after group was over, with men pressing in to thank him and shake his hand.
 Lunch afterward at Paneras won’t even begin to pay the debt I owe him. Thanks, G!


2018 Benefit Concert with John Flynn

Best choir ever and my favorite part of the evening... Even though the benefit concert was out of state (and required special permission for some guys to attend) we had a great turnout of NBNS members last night. Of course they didn't know they'd be asked to sing! Photo by Terry Lynn Bramble Anderson

View movie of last song Benediction
John with several of the NBNS members

 


7/21/2018
News came today that New Beginnings lost another brother to heroin. DJ got his GED in prison. He was the first person in his family to get one. He had really worked hard, and overcome a great deal of self doubt to do this. He was actually so proud of his achievement that upon his release  he somehow arranged to remain in Gander Hill an extra day so he could share the news with us at our Thursday night meeting. I’ll never forget the grin on his reddening face as the cheering broke out. We’d seen such a transformation, as his confidence grew and he began to embrace new and previously unimaginable possibilities for his life. Our hearts are truly broken at the news of his death. Brother David once told me that some wounds - some addictions- will only be healed after life on earth and  in God’s presence. So for now we must console ourselves that we were present as DJ glimpsed, however briefly, his own beauty and worth.  And we must go on with the work of reminding each of our brothers and sisters how precious they are and how desperately we need them to do the things that only they can do in this broken world.

 


Part of the great team that helps us run our New Beginnings-Next Step Community Clothing Closet... Great meeting today. I apologized for “losing it” last week after a Returning Citizen and longtime friend had both disrespected the meeting and run a little game on us for some short term coin. (I found out today that he had recently violated parole and was just hitting us on his way into the wind). One of my guys tried to put me at ease by assuring me that sometimes “losing it” is the the only way to find it!



Always great welcoming another member of the family home!!


A wonderful time at our annual New Beginnings-Next Step Holiday party... Changing things one smile at a time! Photos by Sandy Pearse Stefanowicz   More photos