Every day at RETA is different. Volunteers and staff hear tough stories, offer compassion, and share laughter and prayer. Sometimes we experience interesting and challenging situations as we interact with clients. God is at work at RETA, and He has opened two new doors for our ministry to dads.
Indiana prisons, jails and other facilities are full of men, either temporarily or for the long term. According to the June 2018 Indiana Department of Corrections population report, 1,036 new individuals entered IDOC in May 2018. By county of commitment, Elkhart County has 1,554 locked up plus 531 who are involved in community corrections programs. Combined with other categories, that brings a count of 2,145 individuals from Elkhart County who are either incarcerated or in a correctional program. In our county jail, about 720 of the 870 current inmates are men.
In our efforts to change our culture, one man at a time, I have recently begun teaching a men’s group in our local Work Release program. In this facility, about 45 women and 250 men serve part of their sentence, and most are able to maintain employment. A few months ago, we asked the administration about bringing Men’s Coaching in, and we were warmly welcomed and invited to come.
In the last month, I have met with a group of guys and taught about various parenting styles and ways to manage their emotions as well as their kids’ emotions. We discussed how to intentionally develop the best qualities in themselves and in their children. Everyone is eager to make stronger connections with their kids in their limited visits, and we explored creative ways to do that. The guys have been humble, funny, teachable, honest, blunt, receptive and positive.
When they have fulfilled their obligations, those who live in the area will be welcome at RETA. They will know somebody they can trust for advice, positive input, and a connection to other resources.
On a related note, in August, I will begin teaching a class for fathers in our county jail. Pray for the men in work release and the jail as they gain tools to be better dads, mend relational fences, and count the days until they can live at home with their families. Pray that they would be open to God’s work in their hearts and lives. Pray that I would be wise and faithful as the Lord directs in these opportunities.
Jeff Fater, Men's Coaching Manager