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An Update From Our OPOP Team

In January 2022 the Church Council approved a new ministry initiative at First UMC
Olympia: One Parish One Prisoner (OPOP), and a new committee of volunteers was
connected with Michael, an incarcerated individual due to be released from prison in
August. This OPOP team committed to accompany Michael in friendship as he transitioned
out of prison and back into society, and we began to get to know and care for Michael in
friendship through letters and phone calls. Hebrews 13:3: “Remember those who are in
prison as though you were in prison with them,” gave us resolve.

As the time grew closer for Michael’s release in August of last year, our church learned
about some of the obstacles that newly released individuals face and frequently prayed for
Michael, especially regarding the barriers to housing and employment upon his release. In
May and June, to add action to these prayers, the church generously responded with
donations of money, gift cards, clothing, and furnishings for Michael. The team met
numerous times to stay in touch with Michael and make connections with opportunities of
employment and housing, culminating in Michael’s early successful release August 4th .
Money from the Welcome Home fundraiser also provided funds for the critical first few
weeks in a motel until a more permanent six-month rental could be obtained and covered
until the end of February 2023.

As the OPOP team finished a year’s ministry, we reflect on how much we’ve learned about
the barriers faced by newly released prisoners. We are impressed by the generosity of our
church and thankful for the many answers to prayer that we’ve experienced for our friend
Michael. It was a shining moment to see him attend church with us in December, and he has asked us to send a message of thanks to FUMCO: "Thank you for all your help and support. It really means a lot to me. Wishing you all a Happy New Year."

Please keep Michael in your prayers as he resumes life with his family and works hard to
develop a business in our community.

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