In March 2015, God provided an opportunity for Brookside Community Church to start a program that has impacted the culture and fiber of our church community and neighborhood. It has changed the way we do ministry and how we love each other in spite of the brokenness we carry into this world. When Wells Fargo donated a house to our church we had no idea that it would influence how we minister to our very broken neighborhood. This house is now known as the Isaiah House and it is utilized as a 12-month discipleship program that serves men who are coming out from incarceration. The program offers to these men a full-time job, transportation, a place to live, a mentor, and a new community, on day one. It is a new start for men with multiple offenses, lack of credibility, and simply put whom the world has forgotten.
This Sunday, February 12, we have the privilege of celebrating our first graduate in the Isaiah House program. Ted Burke came to us in the end of October 2015 having just been released from incarceration. Ted entered our program with an inability to work full-time based on his legitimate disability claim, no job, no family support, and the lack of belief that he could get over the barriers to his lifelong battle with addiction and multiple felonies. Within the context of community, a safe place to live, and healthy relationship around him, we saw Ted motivated to overcome these barriers. Isaiah 57:14 speaks to the churches responsibility to care for those with barrier like Ted. God says, “Build up, build up, prepare the way, remove the obstacles from my people’s way…I dwell with him who is of contrite and lowly spirit to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”
Ted overcame many obstacles. It took him 5-months to find a job that would hire him for the 20 hours needed for employment. Ted had a moment of weakness one night and relapsed, but walked out the consequences of his drug use and was the first man on his parole officer’s caseload to graduate Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). He participated in 4 community partner programs which took place on Wednesday nights and graduated each one of them. While working 20 hours a week, he volunteers the other 20 hours in our church ministry taking care of cleaning, building shelves, organizing food pantry, and much more. He has served as a van driver on Sunday morning picking up and ministering to our family members who need transportation. God has given Ted a new life and a new community, and God is the One that has revived His heart.
Ted will graduate Sunday, but he will continue to serve our church family and community. He has become a minister to the elderly in our congregation and will continue to bless them in every way he can. He will continue to drive the bus on Sunday for Church, and we will see Ted successfully live the life Christ intended for him. Join us at 10am for a celebration of this man’s journey.