Hope Outside of Prison

Life in prison puts everything in stark contrast to life outside prison. Connections to family and friends are lost. Time passes slowly.

Mike Shank, founder of Pardoned by Christ, knows this experience all too well. He was 22-years-old when he was convicted of trafficking cocaine and a served three and a half years in prison. In the last 40 years, Mike has walked the road of reconciliation and restoration in his personal and professional life. The greatest thing about Mike is his love for the Lord and how the Holy Spirit orders his steps. Mike wants to see lives changed and to give back.

A pardon from the governor in 2001 was the first of many steps that led Mike to create Pardoned by Christ in 2005. “Many inmates want to turn their lives around and maybe, someday, receive a pardon from the Governor of North Carolina.  At the end of the day, it is Christ’s pardon that we need for true freedom,” said Mike.

PBC Ministries volunteers help inmates and families in several ways. They provide Bible studies, family support groups, mentor services and other resources including 4 transitional homes for up to 27 men, most have just been released from prison.

PBC Transitional Homes

Residents at the transitional homes are chosen for their commitment to Christ and to pursuing a positive life.

“I noticed that when guys got out of prison, most had nowhere to go that would help them get a fresh start,” said Mike.

At the transitional homes, volunteer counselors work with the men on a plan to rebuild their life such as getting help finding a job, learning how to pay bills, and connecting to local agencies who can help with clothing, discounted cars from Wheels of Hope, and job training.

In return, residents must help with chores and follow the house rules. Keeping the men focused on Christ is at the center of the mission.

“The blessings of this ministry come from the smiles when the residents get their first paychecks out of prison,” Shank said. “It helps build their self-esteem and get a fresh identity.”

Family Support Ministry

The Family Support Ministry encourages family who have a loved one that has been incarcerated or in any way has been affected by incarceration. The group meets on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday at 7 p.m. to strengthen and encourage those in need. The gatherings are facilitated with speakers, group interaction, and development of one-on-one relationships.

Ministry at Youth Development Centers

Youths who are adjudicated for offenses that occurred prior to their 18th birthday may be committed to a Youth Development Center (YDC) for mentoring, education, and therapeutic treatment to prepare youth for a fresh start when they re-enter their communities.

PBC Volunteers share the word and serve as mentors for girls and boys in Chatham YDC in Siler City the 2nd and 4th Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m. and boys in Edgecomb YDC in Rocky Mount on the 3rd Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m.

It has been one of my life’s most memorable time volunteering with PBC at the YDC in Siler City. The image shown above is from a few years back with the volunteers. Seeing a young person transition from serving time for offenses to finding hope and healing through this process is truly a gift to know I made an impact.

PBC Ministries Impact

The need for groups working to offer criminal offenders a second chance is revealed by the high re-incarcerated rate, known as recidivism. When many prisoners return to communities, they lack the skills “to find jobs and stay out of trouble,” according to a NC statewide initiative. Many end up back in prison.

Here’s the breakdown from a 2020-2021 NC DPS report.

More than 34,000 people are in state prisons and another 77,763 offenders are under the supervision of the Division of Community Corrections. The majority (82%) were under probation (Source N.C. Department of Public Safety). The highest percentage of those incarcerated are male.

  • During FY 2020-2021 the highest age category of females entering prison was 30-39 (N=944). In this age group, 82% were White Female, 14% Black Female, 2% Hispanic Females, 2% Other Female and less than 1% Indian/Asian.
  • During FY 2020-2021 the highest age category of males in prison was 30-39 (N=8,148). In this age group, 61% were Black Male, 28% White Male, 7% Other Male, 2% Hispanic Male and less than 1% Indian/Asian Male.

Overall recidivism rates. Of the 47,000 people covered by the report, 41 percent were arrested within two years. Probationers (37 percent) were less likely to be re-arrested than prisoners (49 percent). The recidivist incarceration rate for inmates released from prison was 36 percent.

Only 7% of the 178 PBC Transitional Homes returned to prison. The savings of having that many men not be re-incarcerated translates to about $2 million a year.

These numbers help underscore the importance of finding ways to help ex-offenders become productive citizens.

 “Everybody has done things wrong, some have to go to prison,” Shank said. “Everyone should be given a chance for forgiveness and a redemptive process.”

To learn more or get involved today, visit www.pardonedbychrist.org or email Mike Shank at mbshank@hotmail.com.

Published by Liza Weidle

As a savvy connector with a passion for making the world better, I am known as a good listener and resource immersed in learning trends, tackling challenges, and helping organizations translate vision into actionable, results-driven strategies. In other words, I get the job done!

One thought on “Hope Outside of Prison

  1. Excellent blog, indeed. I was amazed while reading this. But, honestly, I am happy knowing that inmates still matter and some people still give their hands to help others.


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