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Eight weeks to change a lifetime

Morgan found herself in a tough situation with a growing amount of depression after a separation and loss of a job. “I was sad and angry at the breakup of my marriage and about two months after that I lost my job of seven years. I was lost; I couldn’t get out of my own way. I couldn’t provide for my kids the way I wanted to. I felt worthless.”
At age 12, Darrel was crossing the street with a friend when he was hit by a car going 70 miles an hour. Six and a half months later he woke out of a coma in the hospital. “After that I spent most of my teenage years seeing my mom selling dope. I chose the drug life — between my pain prescriptions and pot. …. I developed a convict mentality; I knew I was going to end up there someday anyway. I just didn’t care.”
What if we lived in a world where poverty, addiction, crime and homelessness were all but forgotten? What if people found value, dignity and hope when and where they least expected it?
Morgan began searching for answers in a Bible she had gotten as a teenager. Then a couple that lived in her apartment building told her about the “Jobs for Life” program at their church.
Darrel saw an advertisement in the paper for “Jobs for Life” and signed up.
What if people of faith united together in a common goal –to make their communities stronger by helping more people find meaningful work?
“Jobs for Life” provides a unique job readiness training and support strategy that empowers students to be successful at work and at life. While those involved are careful not to promise particular employment, they do believe “you can become the person employers want to hire.” But more than that, you become the person you were always meant to be. More than job training and interpersonal skill building, this ministry helps transform lives through meaningful and mutually respectful relationships, the application of Biblical principles and the acquisition of practical work readiness skills.
What if the church restored purpose and dignity to people through meaningful employment?
First Baptist Church of Salisbury is attempting to address the root causes of unemployment by mobilizing a network of volunteers — mentors, business leaders, community agencies and churches — to help those who need life skills as well as job skills. We believe that the church is uniquely capable of giving the unemployed and underemployed the very things they need: a Biblical understanding of identity, purpose, values, and work, and most importantly, a supportive and committed community of mentors and access to business and helping agencies.
The idea for the program was born when Chris Mangum was paving the parking lot of a church in southeast Raleigh. Mangum then worked for his family business, a heavy-highway/site contractor. He mentioned to Rev. Donald McCoy, pastor of Pleasant Hill United Church of Christ in Raleigh, that he needed workers. “I’ve got a lot of large trucks parked because I can’t find good drivers,” Mangum said.
McCoy said he had several members of his church that couldn’t find jobs.
The men developed a friendship and pursued a mutual mission — to help the unemployed and underemployed in their community.
From that, Jobs for Life was launched and is now offered through churches, community centers and other helping agencies in over 275 cities in 9 countries.
The eight-week, two-nights-a-week course includes reading assignments in a 16-chapter workbook that includes communication exercises, role plays and work scenarios, career assessments, one-on-one mentoring, and ongoing projects like vocational plans, resumes and 60 second pitches.
A great part of the workbook uses Bible stories and examples of people who have overcome barriers to succeed. Students may come from various faith backgrounds or no faith background; the training does not pressure anyone to believe a certain way. The goals are to help students understand they have value and are loved by God, and how timeless Scriptural truths can help them achieve balanced and productive lives at work and at home.
Throughout the course, which is scheduled in January, the class will study the lives of four Biblical characters: Joseph, David, Ruth and Jonah.
First Baptist-Salisbury is hosting an orientation meeting Oct. 17 for those who want more information, and site leadership training the next day.
Darrel tells of his experience after graduating a Jobs for Life class in Branson, Mo.: “In the Jobs for Life class, I figured out how to be humble. Before I got here I didn’t have any confidence; I was ashamed of what I had been in my past life. Now I’m on the right track.”
Morgan says, “In the workbook I read that God is the healer, God gives me hope. I was so relieved that I was going to be all right. That I didn’t have to be the way I was. I am not alone, I am not worthless. He has plans for my life.”
Orientation will be held at the First Ministry Center of the First Baptist Church, 220 N. Fulton St. from 6-9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 17. The Site Training will be held in the same building on Saturday, Oct. 18 from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. A light lunch will be served. refreshments will be available both days. For reservation information for either or both events, contact Rod Kerr at 704-633-0431 or rod@fbcsalisbury.org

Rod Kerr is minister of education at First Baptist Church and does career coaching and assessments for AWES International.

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