Mike Cope's blog

Friday, April 29, 2005

Last night I spoke at the graduation ceremony for FaithWorks, a Highland ministry that started three or four years ago. It may be one of my favorite speaking gigs of the year. Nine women, having finished the 13-week program, got to receive their diplomas. These are women whose lives have been challenging. But they entered the program, bonded together, and completed the work. Three of them spoke briefly at the graduation ceremony. One talked about being told that she had cancer in an advanced stage. She had two choices: she could accept her likely fate, try to stay as free of pain as possible, and die quickly or she could fight a painful battle with all she had in her. She looked around at her nine children, and decided it was time to fight. I looked in amazement at this strong woman of faith as she received her diploma. Sunday morning at second service we'll recognize these incredible graduates.

10 Comments:

  • Mike,

    I don't know about you but I think that FaithWorks is one example of how "the church" is working. I know that often churches get so caught up in maintaining programs that they forget the higher calling of redeeming and transforming lives. FaithWorks, although a "program" of the church, really works. I do, though, wonder what it might look like for those women if each one was individually "taken in" by a house church or say, your covenant group. It would be less of a program and much more personal. Less organization and more organic. Could the same be accomplished in 13 weeks? More? Less?

    Will Sunday be videotaped? I'll be out of town and I know the Maxwell's are painting and the kids are leading communion. I'd love to watch that sometime.

    By Blogger Joel Quile, at 4/29/2005 05:25:00 AM  

  • As director of HopeWorks (FaithWorks' "sister" agency in Memphis) I can asstest to the courage and strength of our students. Their life stories are unbelievable and reflect a past and present that few of us (the typical blog reader) could ever endure. My life is better because of the 9-18 students God places in our care three times a year for 13 weeks. (Over the past 15 years, HopeWorks has helped 395 men and women re-enter the work force.) Here's a sample...

    Mark started selling drugs on the street at age 12. He was in jail by age 18 and emerged bitter, angry and aimless. His probation officer recommended he come to HopeWorks to find some direction and a career. His career choice was electrician and we found him a non-paying internship with a local electrical contractor. Because of his exemplary behavior during his 90-hour internship, the contractor hired him. He has missed only one day of work since beginning 13 months ago. He will start night school this fall at his employer's expense. Mark is on his way!

    I could recount dozens of such stories. God is good!

    Thanks for taking the time to address the graduates, Mike. I'm sure your life is not the same because of those nine special ladies.

    aka Steve Sr.

    By Blogger MarkS, at 4/29/2005 05:35:00 AM  

  • Three cheers for the Triumphant Team.

    By Blogger Matthew, at 4/29/2005 06:10:00 AM  

  • Mike,

    What great stories and people. Thanks for posting about things like this. It's a real hope builder for me and others too, I'm sure.

    By Blogger Frank Bellizzi, at 4/29/2005 06:21:00 AM  

  • Hey, I miss seeing the graduates and hearing their stories--builds optimism in me for the future. Judy Thomas

    By Blogger judy thomas, at 4/29/2005 08:06:00 AM  

  • Mike,

    Does FaithWorks have a website? What a support group!!

    By Blogger David Michael, at 4/29/2005 09:22:00 AM  

  • OFF-TOPIC ALERT!

    Mike, I just had to tell you how happy I was to watch John Lackey defeat the Evil Empire. It did my heart good.

    Steve

    By Blogger Thurman8er, at 4/29/2005 01:38:00 PM  

  • Mike - thanks for your thoughtful comments and thanks for the blessing you shared with our graduates last night.

    Hey Joel - what would it look like if these heroes were students in "programs" like FaithWorks and members of your covenant group?

    David - we are working on a website as I write. The site has been designed and should settle into its permanent home by the end of next week. It will be something close to "FaithWorksofAbilene.org"

    Steve and Judy - great to hear from you!

    By Blogger Joyce Dalzell, at 4/29/2005 02:13:00 PM  

  • Joyce,

    Beautiful! Wouldn't that be the best of both worlds? The power of the recources of a large church with the mindset of a close knit family. That was so well said! Thanks. I hope that you didn't hear anything but appreciation and validation for Faithworks from my post. I love and respect you and that ministry so much. I just know that there are some who are so down on the established church and it's programs and so I was trying to put out a question that I know some will ask. My favorite part of your comments was you refering to them as "heroes"
    Beautiful!

    By Blogger Joel Quile, at 4/29/2005 05:09:00 PM  

  • One thing I need to be better at is telling how much FaithWorks is like a convenant group. The table fellowship we share daily through food and prayer is lifechanging. As the students study the book of Matthew through their weekly Bible time a time for communion and a shortened passover meal is included. Accountability is a part of daily conversations. When the program was new, I wanted to(and sometimes did) edit the daily Psalm reading - only reading the 'happy' ones. It was amazing the things I learned once I quit editing and let these wise FaithWorks students help me with the understanding.

    I wish you could have been at graduation - to hear two of these women weep as they read the 23rd and 54th Psalm was so powerful. And the testamony Stella gave from the parable of the 99 was truly on target.

    By Blogger Joyce Dalzell, at 4/30/2005 03:00:00 PM  

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