Through the All in Community Four Friends Speakers Bureau, returning citizens share powerful witness of God’s redemption. Created from the vision of the late James Clay, an All In Community member, speakers tell personal stories to inspire churches and communities to join in ministry with individuals impacted by crime and incarceration.

This year, AIC received a $5,000 grant from the Foundation of Evangelism to support the work of Four Friends. The Foundation for Evangelism, a Wesleyan-tradition organization, provides grants to equip disciples to share the good news of Jesus Christ. 

Four Friends speakers are deployed across West Ohio to engage in conversation and encourage churches to join in justice ministries. As they relate stories of transformation and God’s work in their lives, Four Friends members and congregations are released from shame and find healing in community. Four Friends testimonies serve as a catalyst for congregants’ healing, releasing them from secrecy into a trusting, healing relationship with Jesus and the church.

“Educating people by telling my story that is unique to me is powerful for me,” said Zach, a Four Friends member. “We never know what someone is dealing with. People come up to me … and reveal powerful things. … The Holy Spirit works around us and allows people to risk.”

AIC supports the passionate work of Four Friends monthly through developing leadership and communication skills and moving listeners to act. When Four Friends speakers visit churches, an AIC leader or ally accompanies them. 

The Foundation for Evangelism grant supports its “024 ministry” goal of deploying Four Friends to 24 United Methodist churches throughout West Ohio. The purpose is to educate and to engage people in creating welcoming and healing environments with justice-inspired members and neighbors.

For more information, contact Rae Lynn Schleif at  

AIC is the West Ohio Conference’s justice ministry consisting of clergy and laity with personal and professional experience in prevention, jail, prison, reentry, advocacy and victim-support ministries.