Fresh Start/Reclaiming Hope
|October 26, 2021|
This past Friday I attended the “Reclaiming Hope” Conference at Pantano Church. On Saturday, I attended Fresh Start at TCC, tabling on behalf of the Prayer Domain. I’d like to share one or two of my takeaways, relating them to prayer.
Reclaiming Hope Trauma is all around us – and even more so since the pandemic. Non-judgmental, safe relationships are key to the healing of trauma. Let’s work together as a community to change the question from – “What’s wrong with you?” to “What has happened to you?” These words were taken directly from the program for this event. As pray-ers in our families, communities, churches, and even work places, we probably have all met or engaged with people who have dealt with or are currently dealing with trauma. I wonder if sometimes you are like me when you wonder – “How can I pray for this person?”
Occasionally, I have heard these words, “You don’t understand. You’ve never gone through what I’m going through.” Indeed, there is a level of truth in those statements. However, I heard something on Friday which wasn’t necessarily new but very much resonated within my spirit, “You may not have gone through the ‘problem’ another person is going through; but, we’ve all experienced pain, grief, joy, anger, loneliness, etc.” As pray-ers, sometimes we think that we cannot come alongside someone who is experiencing what we have not. After all, we may not have the right words to say, but that should not keep us from coming alongside others. Read any of the Gospels and you will see in Jesus/Yeshua the emotions He experienced of pain, grief, joy, anger & loneliness – just to name a few. Mark 15:34 tells of the painful loneliness of Jesus’ final moment when He cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” But, Hebrews 4:15-16 reminds us of who Jesus is: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Fresh Start This was a unique opportunity for people who have been released from prison to have access to “legal and practical services to help them on their way to their personal fresh start.” I was impressed at the caliber of people and ministries (both secular & Christian) that care deeply for this segment of society who many times is ostracized or are looked down upon for the crimes they’ve committed and the time they have served. I recognize this can be a polarizing subject and I am not minimizing the need for accountability or the importance of “doing time that fits the crime” or if there is a need for prison reform. However, do we, as a society, continue to “penalize” people after they have served their sentences?
Romans 5:8 kept going through my mind and I wasn’t quite sure why. To provide a bit of context, here is Romans 7b-11: …when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Most of us are aware of many who go into jails and prisons to provide bible studies and Christian mentorship. And Praise God, many in prison accept Jesus as their Lord. But, what happens when they get out? There are incredible ministries within our city who are working with these men and women to help with their transition back into society. At Fresh Start, people were able to meet with representatives who could assist with rights restoration, warrant (misdemeanor) resolution, juvenile record expungement, and access to behavioral health and addiction services – just to mention a few. Giving of their time were judges, lawyers, health professionals, even hairstylists, etc. whose only goal was to help others. On a personal note – I saw the joy on my friend’s face (4Tucson’s Social Service Domain Director, Tom Cortese) when he shared with me that he had just begun the path to be able to vote in next year’s elections. Many take for granted the wonderful freedom we have, as Americans, to vote for those we hope will run our city or our country well. Imagine if that freedom was taken away. I get emotional just thinking about Tom’s next steps and our freedoms. Tom has an incredible testimony of living a difficult life, being incarcerated, accepting Jesus and now living a life honoring of the Lord. I may ask him to write a testimonial of the power of God and of prayer in his life for a future column.
On October 30th is Encircle Tucson with Prayer. The link below shares the variety of ways to pray for Tucson while you are out and about working, playing, shopping, etc. I was talking with a lady at Fresh Start about this. She said, “You know, every time I hear sirens, I pray for their safety.” That is what this is about. When you’re at the mall, pray success for the various business. If you pass by any one of the many hospitals or urgent care centers, pray protection for the workers and healing for those in need. I hope you can see all the different opportunities to pray for every segment of our city.
Blessings & Shalom,