Almost a year ago it was no more than a
neighborhood eyesore, covered in graffitia boarded-up crack house that had been
vacant 15 years. Now the two-story building in northwest Indianapolis boasts a new life,
trumpeted to passersby by a small red and white sign that reads: "The Jesus
Although its residents are ex-offenders just discharged from prison, there
are no drugs here. And the only party going on inside this house is what residents call
"a Holy Ghost party."
An aftercare shelter for Christian men just released from prison, The Jesus House is
more than that to its founder, prison evangelist William Bumphus. Its a place of
restoration for ex-offenders who found salvation while behind bars.
"Im looking for men who want to serve Godthose sold out
Christians," said Bumphus, who has led thousands of inmates to Christ. He established
his Jesus Inside Prison Ministry soon after his release from prison 19 years ago.
The Jesus House is a sorely needed answer to the nations serious recidivism rate.
Too many inmates return to prison because they leave with no more than a probation card,
$50 and a bus ticket. Unless theyre discipled in the faith and offered lodging and
employment assistance, the men, Bumphus knows, will most likely return to crime.
His vision for the facility was born in 1984 after a similar halfway house he started
failed. "I learned the hard way you cant mix street people and prisoners,"
In July 1997 the building was purchased with funding from local pastors. But neighbors
opposed the home, and Bumphus had to install the furnace and plumbing himself.
Bumphus first guest arrived the next month, but the house wasnt ready.
Robert Weddington, 53, had just been discharged from a 12-year drug sentence. Weddington
volunteered to help remodel the house, and today he serves as resident director.
"A Christian in prison spends 80 percent of his time praising God and studying the
Word," Weddington said. "But when you leave prison, there is so much
stress-mostly from trying to find a job."
Mark Barmes, 39, is one of the newest residents of The Jesus House. After serving more
than four years of a 10-year child molesting sentence, Barmes moved to the facility in
Prison life had taken its toll on Barmes. He lost his family and a job making $80,000 a
year. After prison he took a severe pay cut, had no transportation and lived in a hotel.
"Sometimes I feel all alone in this world," Barmes said. "But I can be
myself at The Jesus House." Currently Barmes and Weddington are studying the Book of
Weddington and Bumphus have implemented a strict program that provides a bridge
Christian ex-offenders need. It offers safety, fellowship, accountability and time to
adjust to civilian life.
"Seventy percent of their time here theyre in church or Bible-oriented
discussions," Weddington said. Employment and residency referrals are also provided.
"Its easier living inside prison than on the outside," Bumphus added.
"The average guy in prison goes to church every day for seven years. When he gets out
the church doors are only open once a week. Most prisoners dont make it."
Bumphus believes a stay at The Jesus Houseeven though it is temporarywill
keep men from returning to prison. "The devil doesnt want these men to have
power," he said. "We teach these guys how to be victorious in Christ."