It was Palm Sunday in the rest of the Christian world, but at The Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas, it was ‘Redemption Sunday’ for former prison inmates who have turned their lives around through faith in Jesus Christ.
The mega church, pastored by Bishop T.D. Jakes, celebrated the special day by praising the Lord and honoring the graduates of its Texas Offenders Reentry Initiative.
“It was a struggle for me to have it on this Sunday…But what better example of redemption Sunday?” said Jakes of the men and women who had turned their lives around through the program.
The service opened in prayer for the graduates.
“We pray that this service will motivate them and encourage them in life… We pray that this will open so many opportunities that it will flood them,” said the speaker.
Throughout the service, congregants were able to learn the challenges of readjusting to life outside of prison and hear from success stories like Arthur.
Arthur served more than 20 years in prison.
“God was using that time to mold me and shape me for what He has in the future,” he said.
Authur is now a believer, married, a business owner and uses that business to hire other former inmates. He gives thanks to God and the program.
Since its start in 2005, T.O.R.I. has served more than 10,000 former offenders with spiritual and physical support.
That spiritual support includes bible studies, prayer and mentorship.
According to Jakes, in 2017, hundreds of T.O.R.I. clients were able to take classes and receive their GED through the ministry.
The 12-month program has also helped more than half of its clients obtain employment, a challenge for some with a criminal history.
The program boasts a recidivism rate of 11% compared to the national average of 52%.
Political commentator Angela Rye, of the Congressional Black Caucus, also spoke at the commencement.
Reading from Philippians 3:13-16 Rye said, “Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what is ahead.” She used that verse to remind congregants and graduates their hope is in Jesus.
Rye also gave graduates five steps to “ Hard Reset Your Lives.”
1.)Embrace your purpose
2.)Step Into Your Power
3.)Lean Into Your Humility
4.)Work In Compassion
5.)Change the World
— The Potter's House (@TPHDallas) March 25, 2018
“You are not reentering. This is your hard reset. This is your new beginning,” Rye said. “ You have been called for such a time as this,” she encouraged.