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Ministry Partner Spotlight "Never Too Late: with Charles Neal of Brookside CDC

The USA has the unfortunate distinction of having the largest incarcerated population in the world. This challenging reality impacts every community in our country. The general sentiment of many Americans towards this population is hindered by intense feelings of

contempt and condemnation, which exacerbates things.

As a result, people reentering from incarceration, homelessness, and chronic addiction are demonized and stripped of their voices.

The immediate outlook is bleak. But these people are human and need someone to advocate for them, someone to stand in the gap, and someone who knows that it is never too

late to move in the right direction.

Brookside Community Church Is Helping To Provide Reentry Programming for Incarcerated Individuals

Enter the Brookside Community Church in Indianapolis, whose nonprofit organization, Brookside Community Development Corporation, has developed such a reentry program which includes the Isaiah House Residential Program, an 18-month residential discipleship

program, and The Bridge Worship Service, where advocates come together to build bridges

and break down barriers to ensure success in each person's reentry journey. The program is

led by Charles Neal, who also pastors the Church and reentered from incarceration several

years ago.

In a recent interview with Charles, the importance of this work is highlighted as he describes his experience as a Black American in a country that has created significant barriers to success for people like him. He identifies the importance of understanding the struggle that individuals with a history of incarceration, chronic addiction, and homelessness face and how it ultimately shapes his thinking about reentry.

Reentry is a challenging process, and it requires a positive mindset to reach success.

Believing that there is always time to turn your life around is crucial. Yet, the power of condemnation is visceral, making one feel hopeless about their situation. In addition, society has condemned those who have committed specific crimes, making overcoming their circumstances seem impossible. However, people must realize help is out there.

A Biblical Inspiration For Brookside's Work

Charles discusses how the thief's story on the cross frames his thinking on reentry. He highlights that the love that frees people from negative experiences is not found in the world but comes from a God who loves through Jesus Christ. This love motivates Brookside's work to help individuals facing significant challenges as they reenter. Charles said,

As we learn each person's unique story, we strive to look beyond labels and stigma.

People need real "facetime" connections; it is essential to have people who can advocate and show them that it can be done. The power of condemnation can be broken with the right relationships, so people must break down barriers that create difficulties toward successful reintegration. We must be intentional in our efforts to help those who are reentering. Charles refers to it as "from the bottom to the top, top to the bottom." People reentering must be committed to turning their lives around, and we must intentionally try to break down the barriers that make it difficult for them to reintegrate successfully. In other words, a collaborative approach is necessary to make it work.

Brookside Community Development Center is Making An Impact

The cornerstone of an authentic relationship is the power of being seen, known, and loved. The reentering must be recognized as human beings who have made mistakes but are willing to turn their lives around. Others must acknowledge and support their efforts as they navigate the many challenges of reentry. Organizations like Brookside Community Development Center's Reentry program are doing important work helping those trying to turn their lives around. Advocates and support are vital, and the power of authentic relationships can change lives. With the help of committed partners and the greater community, the program shows that it is never too late to make a positive change.

Find More Christian Ministry Content

Each month Serving USA publishes a newsletter featuring our amazing ministry partners. We are so blessed by them as they work to make an impact with veterans, women in recovery and individuals who have been incarcerated.


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