Cornerstone The Beginning

"Cornerstone Ministry, The Roots" written by AJ RasmussenI entered the prison system in 2001, very blessed to have my family and friends by my side through it all. Soon, I'd come to realize, that wasn't common of those I'd spend my next six years around. Many of the other inmates had been completely ostracized by both family and friends, left to fend for themselves, through both their time in prison as well as their release to the community. Without outside support, both can be devastating and nearly impossible. The person with outside support, gets the medical care they require, granted, it may take a call from that outside support. The person with outside support, has a much better chance releasing on their scheduled date. Also, the chance of re-offense is reduced greatly. The love I received from my family and friends, I wanted to share and pass on to the others, thus began Cornerstone Transitional Ministry (CTM) in late 2003. With the help of my Mother and some church friends, we were able to help many people both while in prison as well as upon their release. I myself, released in late 2006, and thanks to my support system, did well for quite sometime. The problem, I hadn't dealt with the roots behind my issues that lead me to prison in the first place. Soon, I was too busy for church, for CTM, even for family and friends who took a backseat in my life. After going through a tramatizing event, coupled with a recession and an ever-widening gap between myself and my original support system, I'd set up the perfect recipe for complete disaster. Rather than turn to anyone for help, I began to run from myself. I buried myself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I worked more, played more all while falling further and further into a deep depression. Eventually, I returned to my drug of choice, sex, porn and other ungodly escapes. With time, that snowball turned into a mountain, and like drugs, nothing was ever enough. Eventually I became more and more deviant which ultimately led me back here to prison, this time for life. A good friend/mentor of mine, advised I not jump back into the ministry but rather work on myself. I took that advice and spent most of my first three years working on, allowing God, to work on me. Much of that three years felt as tho I were in hell, facing what led me back to prison and all the lives affected because of my choices and actions. Hope and purpose wasn't even in my vocabulary for most of those three years. Much pain came from uncovering those roots. Those roots being rejection and abandonment issues. Also, sexual offenses against me at a young age, which I hadn't considered as something important or life altering. All things considered, I began to feel a freeing of something that had bound me for so many years. Now, I'm not saying I'm 'cured', send me home! I know I have much work yet to take place. What this new found freedom did do tho, is allow me to take the focus off myself and re-enter the work of the Lord, in helping those less fortunate than me. I've lost some family and numerous friends this time, but I still have loved ones by my side and as before, many don't. There is a huge need within the prison to show the love of Christ and in doing so, help provide the needs of those who have no one. This time, we dropped the 'T' from CTM, not because we have given up assisting in the transition of inmates to the community, but because we have opened up our mission to assist in other needs as well as they arise for the inmates. Also meeting the needs of those families left behind by their incarcerated loved one. There are great needs within these places, and we can only meet these needs as our brothers and sisters in Christ continue to help support this ministry. From here, this place of great need, I thank you all for your support. Many people look negatively upon those imprisoned. There are many who belong in here, myself included, but I personally experience many changed lives in this place, inside our chapel. Will everyone we help succeed once released? No. But can we, together, help increase the odds of success by showering the love of God upon the downtrodden? Absolutely!! --AJ Rasmussen,  Founder of CTM/ Cornerstone Ministry

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