V2 Second Chance Ministry
The mission team from Atascocita UMC helped bring houses – and former prisoners — back to life in abandoned Ohio communities.
Atascocita UMC, Humble is helping rebuild lives and homes through a special mission called the Jubilee Project, which brings houses and former prisoners back to life. Run through the United Methodist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, the program gives former prisoners a second chance through employment and encouragement. Years ago, local UMC Pastor Thomas Hargis, a seminary friend of Atascocita UMC Associate Pastor Cameron Supak, started the Jubilee Project by taking a house that nobody wanted, hiring people in the community deemed “un-hirable,” and turning the house into a job training lab. Rev. Supak takes a team to Ohio as often as possible.
This summer, the Atascocita crew worked alongside former prison inmates to install wiring, flooring and whatever the project manager needed. “Their real life stories were sometimes heart-wrenching,” shares Carol Bodin, Mission Chairperson for Atascocita UMC, “yet they still faced life — with hope — because of their faith in God.”
She adds, “This mission model of doing with instead of doing for, is front and center when it comes to showing love to our neighbors. The Jubilee Project even started Jubilee Farms this year to assist residents with access to fresh vegetables and fruit. In communities where grocery stores are lacking, diets can become laden with fast food, so this provides an opportunity to teach them how to work in a garden which is so much more empowering than just handing someone money or a bag of groceries. It sets people up for success.”
Carol’s heart was particularly touched by the stories shared by the Jubilee employees. “When one Ohio man struggling with personal challenges had a bad day on our worksite and he was ready to walk off the job site. Pastor Thomas Hargis and the job foreman spoke to him, calmed him down and found him a new assignment on another worksite. No one called this man out for his actions, instead there was kindness and a genuine desire to help him succeed.”
Returning year after year gives several of the team members a feeling of continuity and accomplishment. Mission crewmember Diann Fulmer shares, “It was wonderful to see the home we worked on last year in its finished state, and participate in its dedication.” The team also put their hammers down on occasion to ‘do life together.’ As Dick Fulmer adds, “Dick Fulmer adds, “God was at work during our trip through our trip. We did Bible study together every day with Pastor Thomas and folks we worked along-side with had such deep knowledge and faith. It was inspiring to all of us.”
Atascocita UMC member Rick Cade says that his favorite part was working alongside the people in Jubilee as they work to get their lives back. “I worked with a Syrian refugee that did not speak English. He had just arrived in America with a wife and six kids and no one was interested in hiring him. Yet Project Jubilee did. He taught me how to tape and float sheet rock like an artist.”