Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Second-Chance Army

I heard someone tell the story today about a person who went through a Salvation Army detox service 22 times. It's the kind of tale that I've heard many times before - the details change, but the essence of the story remains. The person telling the story this time made the point that we are 'the second-chance Army'.

One of the things that I've always admired about many of our social services is that they continue to work with people that others have given up on. We are indeed the last hope for some people, who may have lost hope for themselves. People who are deeply damaged or who have multiple or complex needs often exhibit challenging behaviours that isolate them from the service system. It can take incredible resilience and fortitude to hang in there with consistently difficult individuals but that is in fact exactly what we must do.

When Jesus was asked how many times we should forgive, he gave the symbolic answer 70 x 7 - not meaning that we keep counting up to 490 times but that we should continue to forgive until we lose count. We're not just the second-chance Army, we should be the 70 x 7 chance Army.

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