Love Thy Neighbor

OKLAHOMA CITY – In celebration of a partnership with Life.Church, The Education and Employment Ministry (TEEM) accepted a $12,000 grant that will help the nonprofit continue their mission of breaking cycles of incarceration and poverty through education, personal development, and work readiness training . During t he celebration, program participants sh ared their testimonies and TEEM’s Executive Director Kris Steele spoke on how the intentional elements of the program are imperative to helping these individuals turn their lives around.

“Establishing positive, healthy relationships is especially important for individuals impacted by the criminal justice system,” said Steele. “TEEM is honored to partner with Life.Church to identify and connect men and women willing to serve as mentors to individuals transitioning from incarceration into the community.”

Mark Schuchardt graduated from the TEEM program earlier this month after being incarcerated off and on for the past 20 years. Since his incarceration, he’s been separated from his loved ones and lost contact with everyone except his mother. Building a strong community of people to support him has been the key to his success this time around.

“Of my five incarcerations, this is the first time I have had such a clear and active reintegration opportunity,” said Schuchardt. “I have established a safety network of individuals who are thoroughly familiar with my baggage and the opportunities offered through a second chance, and I’m confident this time will be different."

Life.Church and TEEM began their partnership in 2014 and have since seen more than 30 volunteers from Life.Church begin to actively build trusted relationships with TEEM participants through weekly meetings, trainings, and activities.

“TEEM is transforming lives by building relationships and connecting people recently released from correctional facilities with resources to help break the cycle of incarceration,” said Ryan Westrup, Life.Church Edmond LifeGroups/LifeMissions Pastor. “We’re proud to

play a small part in helping these men and women transition back into the community and make changes that have a lasting impact in their lives.”

For community members who want to join TEEM in mak ing a difference in the lives of men and women in our community, the organization is always in need of more mentors who want to invest in the lives of participants and financial support.

“TEEM will launch two new initiatives in 2017 to empower over 150 people to successfully break the cycle of incarceration. These endeavors are possible because of the numerous volunteers who give their time and because of the support and generosity of partners like Life.Church," said Steele.

About The Education and Employment Ministry (TEEM)

TEEM is an interfaith, 501(c) 3, nonprofit dedicated to breaking cycles of incarceration and poverty in Oklahoma through education, personal development, and work readiness training. Approximately 8,400 inmates are released from Oklahoma’s prisons each year. For many this time of transition is a season of new beginnings and starting over in life. TEEM’s holistic approach works to change this trend by providing comprehensive diversion and reentry services to individuals impacted by the criminal justice system. For media inquiries, please contact Lance Evans at (405) 602-0391 or via email at levans@teem.org For more information on TEEM, please visit www.teem.org.

About Life.Church

Based in Edmond, Okla., Life.Church is a multi-site church with 26 physical locations in eight states (Okla., Texas, Kan., Tenn., Fla., N.Y., N.M. and Ark.). Each location is equipped with a full staff including a Campus Pastor, Children’s Pastor, and Worship Team. Messages are led by Senior Pastor Craig Groeschel and are broadcast to more than 229 worship experiences each weekend at physical locations and throughout the week at Life.Church Online ( www.live.life.church ). Life.Church’s mission is to lead people to become fully devoted followers of Christ. To learn more about Life.Church or to find service times and locations, please visit www.life.church .