“I lost my house, I was laid off from my job, was car-jacked and left for dead. Then, one day, I had 15 minutes to get somewhere and ran into an old friend who is a member of Bethany Lutheran Church. I decided to stop and talk with her, even though I was in a hurry, and she told me about the Soft Skills program. I feel like it was a divine appointment. Today [as I graduate], I still have lots of challenges, but I’m not going to give up. I’m going to keep on going, and I’d like to start my own real estate business.” – Testimony from a 2015 graduate
On Palm Sunday, March 29, 2015 Acts 2 Enterprise graduated its 2nd Soft Skills Training class. A2E’s tagline is Transforming Spirits, Stories and Cities. One of the strategies employed to attain this outcome is providing training to Detroit residents who may either be unemployed or underemployed. The curriculum focuses on personal and professional development and growth in the course of eight weeks. It is an endeavor which provides for a dynamic intersection between faith and people’s future.
During the training, Bethany’s Jobs for Life leadership team spent time cultivating the hearts of students who participated in the outreach ministry. The students focused on various skills, such as: preparing a resume, job searches on the internet, uploading resumes, effective communication, interview techniques, among others. We spoke of the reality that everyone will have roadblocks and setbacks. The curriculum spent time defining roadblocks and how to confront those roadblocks proactively. It was in speaking about these roadblocks that we were able to speak into their lives about God’s grace, love, and purpose for their lives.
This outreach ministry is more than just about getting a job. In fact, we do not promise that we will get them a job at the end of the eight weeks. We do promise, however, that we will provide them with skills which will help them to be more effective during job interviews and in their vocational journey. For the Champions (whom I affectionately call ‘balcony people’) and myself, it is a great opportunity to put our faith into action for people who may be de-churched or unchurched.
Elizabeth Lewis, one of the Champions, said, “[Jobs for Life] graduated two people last year and my granddaughter was one of them. She went on to get a job at Chrysler, and in May she will have her year in. And so I wanted to give back (…), my motivation was to help someone else, like the program helped my granddaughter.”
As I looked upon the graduates on Palm Sunday, I felt joyful to think about the transformation of each individual who stood before the congregation. The past eight weeks changed the hearts and minds of the participants. The class was challenged in their thinking and behavior. When the time came to implement what the students had been taught, it became obvious to them the reason why we expected certain behaviors. With each new class we will build an even greater model of transformation.
The celebration service concluded with the reading of the poem The Fellowship of the Unashamed, an excerpt of which follows: “I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure.”
The great benefits of having a Jobs for Life outreach ministry at churches are the following:
- An opportunity to engage the unchurched;
- An opportunity to create an environment of grace, acceptance and support;
- An opportunity to create a faith culture;
- An opportunity to cultivate authentic relationships;
- An opportunity to extend the kingdom of God.
If you’re interested in knowing more about Jobs For Life or A2E Ministry, please visit http://www.michigandistrict.org/a2e.