Yet the friendship has not been all maple syrup and honey. “In the streets, they say don’t knock my hustle,” Coi notes.
Landon and Coi practice Proverbs 27:5-6 and a deeper kind of honest friendship. “If you don’t have someone who is brutally honest with you, then you have people telling you the unreal, the lies, the falsehoods,” Coi said.
Coi is thankful for the Brookside job. He hopes the court will reduce his house arrest time from four to two years later this year. He steers away from the street life that he lived, and he’s a role model for younger boys from the neighborhood. But a key ingredient is friendship with Landon and others at the church. “Friendship is the most important thing, especially when you can be honest and you feel that they care about you,” he says.
Church member volunteers are vital. Sean Cook was attracted to Brookside after growing up with a father who was police chief in the small town of Decatur, Ind. In that kind of community his father knew many of the people he arrested. “It gave me a sense of justice and also some thinking about reconciliation,” he said.
After a commitment to Christ in college, Cook came to Indianapolis for work in computer technology. He befriended a father of six children, a former inmate, hoping to help him find a new path in life. The family lived in a high-crime neighborhood. Sean was learning much about life on the other side of the tracks. “He needed a friend and the hope that comes with a friendship,” Sean said. “We were very different, but we could both see our identity as broken in Christ. Everything he focused on was survival.”
Tragically his friend was murdered. “It’s the unfortunate reality for people who live in high-crime areas,” Sean said. “God used it as a catalyst to get me involved with Brookside and reentry.”
Sean serves as a bridge coach in the Brookside ministry—or a mix of an elder, deacon, disciplemaker, and friend.
For Sean or Landon, the challenge is discerning who wants the long-term help of the church. Success comes one day at a time. There are no magic spiritual formulas in this kind of ministry.
“We say let’s just walk it out together,” Landon says. “Are they sincere in wanting to change their lifestyle? Do they continue to show up? Will they walk in community and accountability with us?”