CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - New Birth Charlotte is taking on a new mission. It is helping non-violent offenders get out of jail. It is assisting those who need help posting bail after their arrest. This is the vision of New Birth Charlotte Pastor Horatious Harris.
“When I was hungry you fed me, when I was thirsty you gave me something to drink. When I was in prison you came and visited me - these are things Jesus did,” Harris said.
Harris was concerned that some non-violent offenders were stuck in jail because they couldn’t afford bail money. He wanted to take the church to those in jail and do something about that their situation.
“We’re real people,” Harris said. “We have compassion, we understand your situation and we want to be able to help in the ways we can help.”
Not only will the church help them get out of jail, but will also mentor them and support them to stay on the right path so they can be productive citizens.
The pastor believes everybody deserves another chance.
Back in June, the church held a fundraiser for bail money. So far, the church has helped three people get out of jail. The pastor says this is something the church will continue to do.
“It was a really good moment for us to realize that we got authority and power outside of what we just do on Sunday morning or a mid- week service,” Harris said.
This movement has also attracted another church to team up with New Birth Charlotte.
Pastor of Encounter Church Geoff Gibbs Jr. says when he heard about this, he thought this is something his church needs to be involved with. He says this non-traditional way of doing the work of the church makes a difference.
“What we have to do as churches is find ways to intervene at the point of the need,” Gibbs said. “Absent a specific religious program and then provide space for God to do what He did for me - what he did for Pastor Harris and what He did for countless others.”
Gibbs believes this assistance can keep the church relevant and could send a strong message to people who may have left the traditional church that places of worship are still about turning lives around.
“If you can make an investment in one person and you can follow that investment throughout the next 2-3 years - you have made an opportunity for that investment to multiply itself,” Gibbs said.
This support is not just for members of the two churches but it is for all. New Birth Charlotte has a pamphlet that is handed out at the offices of a bail bondsman.
Jason Cunningham handed out one. He was looking for people in jail needed bond who would be appreciative of what the church is doing.
“I understand they want to help families,” US Bonding Bail Bonds Jason Cunningham said. “And I wanted to help out to bring them some of the people that could use their services and not just say you are giving out a handout - I just want to take from you.”
Cunningham applauds what New Birth Charlotte and Encounter Church are doing.
“Anybody that can help out with the kids and the youth to get them off the streets - I think is a wonderful thing,” Cunningham said.
Harris admits not all church members were excited about contributing to this program, but hearts changed when they saw evidence. Some of the people who were helped came to the church.
“They saw the impact of what the monies they have put together,” Harris said. “And to see their lives and see the tears rolling down their face and see their lives even being transformed in that moment - that had people’s minds thinking like maybe we should do more of this.”
Harris says the church will use discernment about who to help. They don’t want to help repeat offenders. They say in every decision they will pray for direction.
“We’re being close to them,” Harris said. “Bringing them closer to us and keeping them connected to us - to make sure that they are staying on the right path.”
This program helped Christy Ross get her son out of jail. The mother says this program was a stress reliever for her.
“You come as you are,” Ross said. “Don’t be ashamed - don’t be afraid. We are all human - this church is here to help.”