Monday, 4 April 2016
“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still Sinners, Christ Died for us.” (Romans 5:8, ESV)
‘Dismas’ is the traditional name of the repentant thief mentioned in Luke 23: 40-43. What does Friends of Dismas stand for?
Friends of Dismas is a church for parolees, ex-prisoners, and their family and friends.
Early in 2012 several folks were reflecting on the need for supporting people who were leaving prison. We spent time with people who were interested in meeting this need within Churches of Christ, the Baptist Church, and Prison Fellowship Victoria. Prison Fellowship volunteers visit over 400 prisoners face to face each month.
Over the years we have become aware of people who either return to their Christian faith or begin a spiritual journey while inside prison. Some of them, because of their convictions, find it difficult to fit into a ‘normal church’ fellowship, especially those on supervision orders where it is not appropriate for them to be in certain situations.
What Do Friends Of Dismas Do?
We hold a meeting once a week on a Wednesday. We begin with refreshments; sandwiches, cakes, and tea and coffee. We gather in a circle and people share how their week has been. We have a bible study and finish with communion and prayer requests. On the last Wednesday of each month we have someone share their story.
We want this to be a safe place, one where the person can know they have been heard but also they are not judged. Many have such painful stories and need to seek healing and God’s forgiveness in their lives.
Setting Up This Program
We have spent time with senior police and those who head up Corrections looking at the possible problems of offering a gathering where ex-offenders could come together and share a meal and fellowship, without breaking laws. They have also been most helpful in getting this program up and running. Police have directed people in need and isolated people to us for support.
We seek to support people as they transition from prison into the neighbourhood, and hold them accountable to the community that surrounds them. We endeavor to encourage them as they grow in their faith, to live a crime free life, offering them friendship and supporting them on their journey.
We want there to be ‘No more Victims’; a safer society.
For more information about Friends of Dismas, contact Pastor Kevin Maddock on 0438 370 082 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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