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Building Relationships in Jobs for Life


Building Relationships in Jobs for Life

Our first Jobs for Life class is almost over already and it is hard to believe! There are so many things I could share from this class—relationships formed, burdens shared, jobs already found, and personalities coming through in beautiful ways! However, I thought you might like to hear from our friends on the front lines, those who have worked so hard to forge friendships with our students and who will continue those relationships long after this eight-week class is finished. Champions in Jobs for Life are much like mentors, and are matched 1:1 with our students. They walk alongside them throughout the eight-week class and following during their interview and job-searching process. They see our students’ challenges up close and have a front-row seat to watch what God is doing through Jobs for Life. I asked Tim Atkins and Lindsey Wright, two of our 16 champions, to share their reflections on a few questions about their experience.


Why did you join Jobs For Life as a champion?
“I joined the JFL program because it seemed like an effective way to help people in need. The program helps people understand their worth, how they’re made in God’s image, and to cultivate the talents that God has given them—with the hope of finding meaningful work. I went in not knowing what to expect but open to whatever people and situations God had planned. Since I was young, God has used many people to help bear my burdens and lead me to a better understanding of His word, His way, and His grace. Galatians 6:1-2 shows us God carries us through ‘the fire’ of uncertain, painful, or fearful times—most of the time through other people. JFL is certainly a way to help others in such a time.”
— Tim Atkins

Can you share some background on your student and their decision to pursue Jobs For Life?
“I am mentoring an 18-year old young woman named Kim. She and her husband, who is 18, have a precious one-year old boy. Both are committed to their marriage and want to be good parents, and they understand that having a job is part of that picture, but neither has a high-school diploma. Their daily challenges can prove overwhelming—without family support, a car, internet or laundry facilities in the home—just taking care of basic necessities most of us take for granted can be time consuming and stressful. Kim would like to continue caring for their son and pursuing her GED since she left school after 8th grade, but the lack of family support for childcare makes this difficult. They have experienced several months of homelessness in the past, and just this month were unsure how to meet their rent obligation. All of these factors have enormous ramifications on their ability to move forward. As I mentor them, it has been helpful to understand the culture of those trapped in generational poverty and why they make some of the decisions they do. Kim and her husband joined Jobs for Life because they wanted to be better parents and wanted to strengthen their marriage, and they understood that a job plays an important role both in their parenting and their marriage.”
— Lindsey Wright

What has the champion and student relationship looked like for you?
“A JFL ‘champion’ is like a mentor or counselor or coach—but most importantly, a friend. My student, Stan, is a good communicator and very willing to talk about his life both good and bad.  He had a good relationship with his dad, who died a couple years ago, and I can tell Stan is looking to me for some ‘fatherly guidance’—more evidence that God’s provision for us is perfect and timely in the middle of our hard times. Before each class, Stan and I chat with the other JFL students and staff at the group dinner. He and I also meet weekly for lunch to talk about life in depth—our joys and struggles and plans. In Stan’s case he’s looking for purpose and stability, and of course an income. He is also a Christian, and he wants to be accountable to me as he makes significant life changes for the better. Sometimes it’s hard to know how to help Stan. He admits he needs help, and wants advice. He’s had a hard life, encountered some substantial obstacles, and developed some bad habits. I can tell him ideas and give advice, but much of the time my job is just to listen and pray, and really that’s true in any relationship.”
— Tim Atkins

“Serving as a champion has been a humbling experience. I was insulated from poverty for the majority of my life, and raised with love, support, and financial resources. I feel like the struggles I dealt with at age 18 have no comparison to the struggles of my student. As a Jobs for Life Volunteer, being sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading has been essential in listening, encouraging, guiding, and helping this couple problem solve. It is the student’s job to want to move forward and make their job future happen; it is my job to love and encourage.”
— Lindsey Wright

How have you seen God work in your own life through your role as a champion?
“I could easily deal with Stan as if I had the answers and could simply serve as the example to follow. After all, I’ve been working regularly outside my home since I was 12, and have a ‘successful’ engineering career in the world’s eyes. Fortunately, God has been gracious to me and shown me how broken I am. He has withdrawn some worldly ‘success’ so that I can be quicker to pray, and more slow to judge others. I realize this is God’s work, because without those realities my pride would grow bigger than it is now!  So I can freely share with Stan my experiences, failures, and how God has led me—and pray with him that God would direct his steps.”
— Tim Atkins


If you did not get to join us this fall for Jobs for Life do not worry—we have another chance for you to get involved! We will be holding our second Jobs for Life class this spring in continued partnership with The CornerStone Initiative, Huntsville Housing Authority, and 100X Church. If you are interested in serving or would like more information about getting involved, please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). We would love for you to join our Jobs for Life team!