“When they shut that steel door on me, I knew this time I wasn’t coming back,” Shane Scribner said. “I had a one million dollar bond, and if that was paid, there was another million dollar bond. When they undid the handcuffs, I threw myself on the concrete floor in front of 32 inmates and gave my life to the Lord Jesus.”
For 20 years, Scribner had been in and out of rehabilitation centers and jails. Sentenced in 2010 to 40 years to life, it seemed like the moment to give up hope. But four years later, Scribner was not only free from a jail cell, clean from drugs and alcohol, reunited with his wife and children, and succeeding in his own construction business – he was stepping into ministry entirely by faith.
Broken Lives Rescue Ministry now houses 48 men at a time, and although they have had to turn men away for lack of room, they are expanding with a new facility in nearby Nettleton, Mississippi. All told, 1,400 men have completed the 4-6 month program since Scribner founded the ministry in April 2014. Men transitioning out of the program after at least eight months can move to a halfway house in a nearby town.
Shane’s story, rising from the depths of human failing to the ability to thrive on his own and minister to others, reveals the possibilities that exist within the human spirit. He went from crime and helplessness to compassion and empowering others. It is a classic rags-to-riches tale that we all love to hear, but which we often have a hard time allowing ourselves to believe could be possible for us or those we know. But there is power in that story because it is truth.
People are potential. Talent, ability, intellect, progress – all of these qualities are innate to every human being. We have the choice as to how we will possess, exercise, and cultivate those qualities, but that power belongs to us and no one else: it is the unique contribution we can make to society, as we so choose. Academic training or past experience cannot force greatness out of us; it may only help guide it into better channels as we unleash it.
Accomplishment does not arise because of corporate policies, financial acumen, or the laws of supply and demand, but out of the self-determination of every individual as to whether they will progress, whether they will innovate and challenge their own intellect, adapt their gifts to serve another, and yield their potential to further some cause beyond themselves.
And, yet, neither does greatness grow in a vacuum. It responds to the influence of the strengths and needs of others. Human flourishing relies on relationship. Growth and survival depend on achieving understanding and direction from cogent communication. It is the shared stories and spaces of humanity that drives forward the collective success of civilizations. Those who start from the bottom can rise when others show them the way.
“Rockford, Illinois, is on those lists that nobody wants to be on as one of the ten worst places to live due to taxes, crime, and the economy,” said Sherry Pitney, executive director of Rockford Rescue Mission. “We are the only shelter in the region. About a third of our population is at or near the poverty level – homeless or near homeless, and a large number do not even have their GEDs. So we try to make inroads with education and employment, to help them pass the GED test or receive vocational training so that they have an opportunity to start at some level and work their way up.”
Every person who enters the recovery program works for six weeks in RRM’s Restoration Café, where they earn a food handler’s certificate. They also can progress through academic goals at the Works! Center, create and sell items in the Remade store, or develop their talents through art therapy and performing arts.
But probably the greatest asset people find at RRM that equips them for a better life is the connections they make there.
“People really need our help when they get to the end of their relationships,” Pitney said. “If you or I lost our job today, more than likely we’d have a family member who would help out. But people come to the mission because those relationships are broken, or they’re just void of healthy relationships.”
It is the people who are willing to put faith in the restoration of a broken person who make long-term changes possible.
“We develop relationships with people who believe in second chances,” Pitney shared. “It’s like a magnet when they see there are people who believe in them and that their futures can be bright. They’re attracted to the idea that life can be different.”
Learn more about Rockford and Broken Lives rescue ministries at https://afajournal.org/past-issues/2018/july/rescue-the-perishing-lift-up-the-fallenstar/