Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2018
Texts: 1 Peter 3:8-12; Galatians 2:20; 1 Peter 4:1, 2; Romans 6:1-11; 1 Peter 4:3-11; 2 Samuel 11:4
Last Tuesday’s rain didn’t dampen the spirits of those looking for a brighter future in Martinsville, Virginia. Employers and agencies throughout the community offered a second chance to former convicts. Mandy Folman, from the West Piedmont Re-Entry Journey, said the number of individuals who came to the job fair looking for a new life, despite the weather, spoke to their resilience. “To me it says they really want a job. They’re dedicated, persistent. They really want to work.”
Friendly faces greet people when they first walk in. Melvin Johnson runs a complimentary clothes closet with professional attire for job seekers. “A lot of our brothers and sisters need jobs. These wonderful people here are giving them a chance,” Johnson said. “They’re used to being shut out.” Johnson offered a suit to Kelvin McKenzie. “I am trying to get out of this,” McKenzie said. “I’m trying to get back to work so I can pay my fines.” Dressed to impress, McKenzie spoke with several companies.
Department of Corrections employee Emily Johnson believes the re-entry fair gives people a second chance. “This is where we live,” Emily said. “This is our community.” The idea is working. At last year’s re-entry event 30-percent of the job seekers received one as a direct result of the fair. Emily and other DOC employees help the incarcerated get on a pathway to success. “Their re-entry plans start the day they come in,” Emily said. “From day one, we’re planning on sending them back out.”
Martinsville Police Chief Sean Dunn proclaims the re-entry fair a success. “Folks reentering our community face challenges,” Dunn said. “This is a one-stop-shop that offers a number of resources. For a person who’s reentering, it’s an opportunity to feel how much the community cares about you.” 1
This week’s lesson examines Peter’s teachings on living for God. That new life with God begins the day we are born again. He begins his letter praising God because, “In His great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope” (1 Peter 1:3). Even though we may once have lived according to the sins of the flesh and were subject to the judgment, our new lives in Christ actually become “a chance to witness to unbelievers without having to preach,” according to Tuesday’s lesson.
We have this offer of new life only because of God’s great love. The only reason we can live victorious lives is because His love now lives in us, changing us from the inside out. We share God’s love by loving others who are stuck in old sinful patterns. The love we share, according to 1 Peter 4:8, “will cover a multitude of sins” in our lives and for those we help. When God’s community cares for the lost in meaningful, practical ways, lives change for eternity.
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