Neil P. became a Christian at a young age but says that he fell away and was incarcerated for 25 years. He was from Montgomery County but would be released in Baltimore City and needed a place to go. A friend in prison told him about the Philemon Ministry so he contacted the director and was accepted into the program. Neil says that God laid the path out for him and that some don’t make it because they feel that there are too many rules; if you follow the rules, you can make it. He attended Bible Studies, reached out to the community in service, and was held accountable for following the program. While living at the house, Neil got a job detailing cars. His employer was a graduate of the Philemon ministry who offered jobs to men who are released from prison as a way to give them a start. Being employed gave Neil a chance to open a bank account and save money and he learned a skill that he had not known previously.
Neil lived in the house for 3 years and grew closer to God; he says that the ministry brought him back. He learned more about the Bible, attended church, and his focus was taken off of himself. He was voted to be the house manager after being in the program for 6 months. He says that the other men saw he was responsible and growing. When others trusted and believed in him, he wanted to succeed. He says that the house gives men a chance to succeed and many men just want that chance. God has opened doors for him such as reuniting him with his family and with serving and giving back to the community.
Neil first saw his wife Tracy while serving at a ministry called Feed the 500. He did not become involved with her immediately; it was after he helped her move and talked to her at an event awhile later that they began to see each other. He proposed to her while he was living in the house and moved out when they got married. Tracy and Neil will be celebrating their 2-year anniversary at the end of January.
Even though Neil has moved out of the house, he continues to support the men who are currently living there by encouraging them and keeping lines of communication open so that they can contact him when they are struggling. He credits the Philemon Ministry with giving him a start. Knowing he had a place to go to removed stress. The house was somewhere he could start a new life and build it from scratch. The program put people into his life that helped him. He says that sometimes it’s necessary to drop old friends; it takes some discernment to know who is supportive or encouraging and who is going to bring you down. The ministry holds you accountable for your actions.