"Eight months ago, I started bringing ex-convicts into my house."
"Cornerstone is growing," Jordan Jeske shares. "We're getting a lot more clients with business growing substantially, really, so I think the next step for us is—"
He pauses slightly, and then says with a little shake of the head, "Yeah, I don't know. Just whatever the Lord has [planned] for us, you know."
Jordan and his family live in Marina, California where he has based his ministry, Cornerstone New Hope Ministries. As part of that ministry, Jordan hires former prisoners to work for Cornerstone's small businesses, Cornerstone Hauling and Gardening and Cornerstone General Automotive.
Helping former prisoners reenter society and find jobs and housing is a personal calling for Jordan. Like many of the people he employs, Jordan has his own criminal record and a history of drug addiction. He knows firsthand how important a second chance at life after prison can be.
Which is why Jordan and his family share their home with four former prisoners.
"Eight months ago, I started bringing ex-convicts into my house," he shares.
TAKING A CHANCE
Brian was Jordan's first resident. With his clean-cut look, he doesn't fit the stereotypical image of an "ex-felon" or a "repeat offender," but Brian has been in and out of prison over the last 25 years. He first met Jordan on the inside, when their prison chaplain introduced the two of them at a TUMI (The Urban Ministry Institute) class facilitated by Prison Fellowship.
"I built a relationship with [Jordan] over time," Brian says. "And he knew that I didn't have a place to go [after my release], so he decided to take a chance with me and start his reentry home with me."
Jordan knows the challenges of successful reentry, and he understands what it takes to overcome them. He shares that plan of action with his residents.
"I believe in the three-prong approach," Jordan explains. "It's a trifecta that we [follow]."
Those three steps are to provide a structured living environment for the returning citizen, offer job opportunities to build confidence and support themselves, and implement moral rehabilitation.
It’s much more than a convenient business arrangement.
"[The Jeske family has] welcomed me into their family," Brian says. "They spend their own money to feed us, and they feed us great. They definitely have the gift of hospitality, and they have the Lord Jesus Christ flowing through this household in such enormous ways that it flows out into the community."
Brian has not only gained a new family, but also a new path in his professional life. He is now a full-time college student, holds two part-time jobs, and is a Cornerstone intern.
"I have more money in my bank account than I've ever had," he says. In addition, he has a car and insurance. "After 28 years, I have a driver's license, so I'm legally driving around."
As a Cornerstone intern, Brian has been alongside Jordan as they've reached out and partnered with various groups and organizations in their area, such as the homeless. They also work with high-risk foster youth, sharing their experiences with the young people.
"Most of these kids have either been abused … or they have been in the criminal systems themselves," Brian says. "And we're not just somebody with a degree that's coming in and sharing some information with them, trying to get them to change. We're telling them how it was, how it is, and where [their choices] can take them."
Through Jordan's example and his family's support, Brian's faith and life have been positively impacted in such a way that even those who once saw Brian as a “repeat offender” have noticed the change.
"My parole officer—within the first 90 days—dropped me down from high control to a lower level of control," Brian shares. "His supervisor says, 'Have you seen this guy's criminal history? What do you want to drop him for?' And he said, 'Have you seen everything that he's doing [now]?'”
"I'm just grateful and thankful for the opportunity to be here and to be a part of this."
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