30 August 2008

sweet sixteen.

1 week down and 15 more to come for me in in the power suit city of D.C.

many things to update on...

i have an internship, the internship if you ask my opinion
*more to come on this very soon

i am living with 5 new girls

i live in the northeast

i don't have a car

i am a guilty 'escalefter'

i speak Spanish in my apartment

i ran across the Patomac river

i own 7 business suits

i have a new obsession with the Wright brothers

i walk an unimaginable amount of miles per day

i met someone who might possible be more ok with casual mess than me
*(thanks and gig'em new roomie)

i wont continue on because this list could quite possibly go on forever and ever and well it's only been a week. the list consists of extremely frivolous things anyway... so for the sake of brevity and your sanity, i will stop. i do; however, want to use this to update the people in my life who have asked me to update. Although, i am never quick to do so because there is so much to update on and thus i am continually indecisive on what to type. not to to mention i sometimes don't really have anything substantial to type either...ahh the ironic love of blogging. but nevertheless, i will update. just for you :)

this will somehow get better, i promise.

02 August 2008

Prison Entrepreneurship Program

Any religion that professes concern for the souls of men and is not equally concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them, and the social conditions that cripple them is a spiritually morbid religion, only waiting for the day to be buried. It well has been said, "Any religion that ends with the individual, ends."
--Martin Luther King, Jr.

"What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, "God in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." James 2:14-17

...can that faith save him?

i'm not going to even act like i understand or have this figured out. but i will say that i want to and i desperately desire to know more of what the Lord says concerning how we are to practically 'act' out our faith in our lives. in my everyday going to the grocery store kind of life.

there have been experiences in my life where i have witnessed the incredible faith of fellow believers. faith that compelled them to use their life, empty their entire life, as a service to Christ, sending them far off of the highly traveled path. faith that is undeniable because it is so apparent in their actions.

one such experience was my time in prison last spring semester.

yes. in prison.

for those of you who have heard me talk endlessly about my experiences in prison, I am about to talk about it more. :)

I went to prison a little before I started slightly keeping up with a blog and so I haven't shared to the blog world just yet....which provides another opportunity to share! why share? because i want more and more people to be a part of it and to be praying for it


a little bit of background: Prison Entrepreneurship Program is based in Cleveland, Texas (near houston). PEP finds the worst drug dealers, biggest gang leaders, creatively illegal entrepreneurs and sets out to teach them how to start a legal business by matching their ideas with top executives and MBA students from around the country, resulting in 98% of the inmates never returning to jail, which says an incredible amount when "the national recidivism rate is above 60% (conservatively), which tells us this: we need to rethink prison as punishment and begin to utilize it as a place to the end the wicked cycle of crime and addiction. The bottom line is prison has turned into a college for criminals, with felons leaving in worse shape than when they arrived. In an attempt to enact punishment on criminals, we’ve created a dull but comfortable holding tank where rehabilitation is more goal than reality."

So what does PEP do? "realizing that prisoners have a massive reservoir of untapped potential once expressed in ill-legitimate business endeavors e.g., gang-related crime, drug dealing and violent crime. PEP seeks to redirect these men into legitimate enterprises, leveraging their proven entrepreneurial skill-sets to inspire an even deeper change."

In short PEP is a four month business crash course where prisoners in their last year are partnered with CEO's and MBA students in order to retrain their minds and encourage them to be successful honest citizens. but PEP is much much more than a simple business program. "In addition to a rigorous in-prison business program, PEP teaches their overachieving underdogs essential life skills like moral decision-making, the importance of spiritual discipline, how to treat women and what employers look for when hiring."

The program was founded 4 years ago by Catherine Rohr, a person who I consider to be a hero.
I heard Catherine speak and decided i wanted see what she spoke of. i wanted to go to prison.

I signed up for MBA day unknowing what that meant at all. i brought along a friend for the ride and figured we would just spend the day in the corner of the room watching what happened during MBA day. (little did we know 'sitting in the corner' doesn't really ever happen in PEP...)

when i walked into prison for the first time i admit i was more than a little scared. i mean, it was my first time in prison and i had no idea what to expect. I had no idea that I would walk into a room full of the joy and love of Christ.

the story of redemption was all around me. i felt so much warmth so much fire in the PEP room located right in the middle of a prison... it was hard to contain the joy i felt.

my first handshake was with a man wearing a suit with a name tag that said "PEP Class VII". After i shook his hand i quickly realized that he had just been released from prison and had just graduated from PEP...i felt so small when my mind went straight to fear and judgement. as the day progressed i was slapped on the face with the grace of my God and how much i have to learn of it. how i lack the knowledge of how sinful i am and what forgiveness through Christ truly means...

i ate a subway sandwich with Brandon, who had never had a visitor before. (the next time i came to prison, Brandon had encountered God and received Christ as his saving grace) i watched men who had committed murder lay hands on and pray for each other. i critiqued business plan after business plan, but in the process heard the life stories of men who had encountered and experienced things i could not even fathom. i listened to prisoners sing songs of their hope in Christ. i laughed and cried repeatedly. and simultaneously.

needless to say it was an experience i will never forget and it is an understatement to say that it changed my life. i went back 4 times. i brought my parents with me to graduation. i fell in love with seeing the gospel played out right before my eyes. i honestly never wanted to leave prison.

never thought i would ever say that. funny where the Lord takes us sometimes...

i just want to share it with everyone. if you want to hear more just ask. seriously i will talk your ears off. or if you want to learn more go to the website and read all the articles and watch the news clips of this incredible story of forgiveness and redemption


[things that catherine rhor has said that will never leave me]

talking about going to prison for the first time...'everything around me was saying no, but the buzzing in my heart was saying yes.'

pray: "Bring it on God"--but be careful if you ever pray that, because it might land you in prison in Texas. or something like that.

if you are totally comfortable, something might be wrong. if you are moderately comfortable, something still might be wrong.

get out of your comfort zone and take action. are you willing to let go of your security blanket?

I came to realize that maybe everything i had, everything, was meant to be used to bring glory to God...

and what if i, emily, really acted like every part of life, everything that i have, every thing i put my hands to, everywhere i go...all of it. that all of life comes down to one thing...to know him and to make him known.

"You are my witnesses," declares the Lord, "and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior, when there was no strange god among you; and you are my witnesses," declares the Lord, "and I am God." Isaiah 43:10-11

"And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent."
John 17:3

i don't know where the Lord is going to take me. or what he is going to ask me to do specifically. but i do know that i want to use everything he has given me, my passion, my talents, my education, my money, my time, my love so that more might come to know his Love. so more might come to know Jesus. so that more will have this eternal life. and how with they know?

I have it. i show it. i extend it to my neighbor. i bare witness to who He is. believers carry it. we are His love in action. we are Him in action. we are His hands and feet. this restoration, this joy, this peace, this love cannot end with myself.

p.s. if you get a chance, go to prison. it will change your life.