Damascus Way Rochester offers a discipleship course that is transforming lives. Freedom Road incorporates one-on-one Christian mentoring with men who are getting ready to reenter society.
Recently, several men just released from prison testified about how a 16-week discipleship course at Damascus Way, called Freedom Road, has changed their lives. One of them is Tavarius, who spent three years locked up for possession of drugs.
“All that thug mentality starts to turn around, the group began pulling at the threads of hatred and abandonment; you start to pull those out, that’s what the group did for me,” said Tavarius.
Tavarius says that while in prison he deeply considered the type of life he wanted to live following his release.
“I was still thinking about getting out and playing the game, playing the hustler and the manipulator but I think more of my good side started catching on,” he said. “It was kind of like a tug-of-war because I wanted to get out and do the same things I was used to doing, but at the same time I was thinking about my kids and who I would end up as if I kept on the same path,” he said.
Tavarius said that every week the group of eight men got into deep and personal topics and he appreciated having honest discussions about life and faith. He said that those real conversations during the Freedom Road group were different than what he experienced sometimes with ministries in prison.
“In prison there’s no discussion, you don’t get a chance to raise your hand and speak up because of the time limits, but here we actually sat around and really got down to it, and made sure everybody got it,” said Tavarius.
Working with Volunteer Mentors
“The idea behind the group is to combine one-on-one mentoring with curriculum that addresses life-controlling problems,” said Doug Bodde, volunteer leader of Freedom Road.
Damascus Way is always looking for more men from in and around the Rochester area to volunteer as mentors who are willing to share their faith. Or perhaps even men who want to grow in sharing their faith.
“I’m optimistic that we’ll reach guys for the gospel because we have caring mentors, men from the community who want to share their faith and make a difference,” said Bodde.
The curriculum books, produced by Living Free, were donated by Team Rochester, an evangelical action network, and the entire program is led by volunteers. Bodde looks at this as a unique opportunity for men in the community to have real, meaningful conversations with many men who are lost.
“At Damascus Way you can show up, encourage someone, pray for them and share your faith,” said Bodde.
“I had never read the Bible”
Another resident, Guadalupe, said he always believed in God, but Freedom Road encouraged him to read his Bible for the first time.
“This is a good program with mentors and Bible study, I learned more about how to be close to God because in my life, I’ve never read a Bible. There’s a lot of good things in there that I never knew,” said Guadalupe.
Tavarius says because of Freedom Road he has learned to be more comfortable in surrendering his daily life over to God. “We talked about bringing Jesus Christ into my life, without Him there’s no other way I could survive. I now have a relationship with Jesus, I talk to him like he’s my brother, about my problems, asking for strength, getting through tough days,”
If you live in the Rochester are and are interested in becoming a mentor, please contact us.