I am grateful for everything that I have learned through the years in many different venues. My degree in Sociology and Criminal Justice gave me the foundation I needed to better understand people. My work experience as a police officer in St. Louis County Missouri and as a correctional officer at the United States Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois exposed me to a whole different world that I never encountered growing up on a farm in rural Missouri.
Those experiences shaped my desire to want to help people BEFORE they became connected to the criminal justice system or suffered traumatic events such as homelessness. How do we create communities where people build one another up rather than steal, assault, and even kill one another? My classes in college revealed the dysfunctional behavior present in society, but it was a very different feeling when I had the opportunity to see it up close and personal each and every day when I went to work.
I am convinced that the only hope for our society is to be renewed in faith. If we look at the story of salvation history, we see the ebb and flow of things. When a society "walked with God," they flourished. When a society did not "walk with God, the outcomes were generally quite devastating.
I shared a story with the students about a king who had a boulder placed in the middle of the main roadway into and out of the kingdom. People complained about the boulder being in the way, but worked to get their horses and carts around the obstacle. Some people began to curse the king for not having the boulder removed.
Finally a local merchant came upon the boulder and saw the struggle that so many people were having trying to get around the boulder. He decided to try to move the boulder out of the roadway. Other travelers simply stood by and watched as he struggled to inch the boulder off of the roadway. He was finally able to get it moved to the side of the road. As he made his way back to his horse and small cart, he saw a moneybag where the boulder had been. In the bag were ten gold coins and a note from the king thanking him for moving the boulder.
In our world today, will we help remove the obstacles to our human growth, or will we simply be bystanders complaining about the injustices of life? I invited the students to be part of the solution to society's problems. I invite you to do the same.