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Jonah’s Journey works to bring families back together

Jacob Smith • Nov 29, 2017 at 5:15 PM

In the last year, Mark Taylor went from a 25-year veteran in the medical supply business with a corporate job to working for a Christian-based foster program.

Taylor is vice-president of Jonah's Journey, a nonprofit organization in Goodettsville that provides foster homes for children whose mothers are in prison. He lives in Lebanon with his wife and three kids and is a member of The Glade Church in Mt. Juliet.

Jonah’s Journey began when one mother in the Tennessee Prison for Women asked another mother to care for her child while she was in prison. The agreement was that the imprisoned mother would get the child back when she got out. From there, it turned into an organization.

“The big difference between Jonah’s Journey and other foster home programs is that the end goal for our program is always to reunite the children with their parent, whether they’re in prison, rehab…whatever they’re going through,” said Taylor.

Ten years ago, the group started working out of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville. Five years later, they opened up a location in Columbus, Mississippi to serve more families.

“I first heard about Jonah’s Journey about three years ago at an educational conference,” said Taylor. “I heard the stories and testimonies and I was intrigued, because it worked. It took me another couple of years to get out of corporate America, but now I’m here.”

According to Taylor, the organization served about 200 children. There are 17 children in care in Tennessee currently and 11 in Mississippi.

It works on a voluntary placement agreement. The mother agrees to place the child in the care of a family through Jonah’s Journey while in prison. The family, in turn, agrees to give the child back when the mother is released.

“There have been some cases where the mother has asked the foster family to adopt their child, but we are 100-percent voluntary,” said Taylor. “We are not an adoption agency. We don’t want to be an adoption agency. We don’t promote adoption. We believe mother and child belong together, and our job is to help that happen.”

Taylor said while there are other agencies that provide temporary foster care for children, Jonah’s Journey is unique.

“There are some organizations out there that do Christian or faith-based foster parenting,” said Taylor. “We are the only one that caters to the children of women who are incarcerated. There is no one else who does that.”

The organization will hold an informational meeting Dec. 7 from 6-8 p.m. at Bethel Free Will Baptist Church in Ashland City for anyone interested in learning more.

For more information, visit jonahsjourney.org or email cjohnston@johnasjourney.org with questions. 

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