We sat together one afternoon this week in my office talking about the past and how it shaped our present and our dreams.
A very weird group of men.
Three of us have spent a total of over two decades locked up in prison. Two of us have no clue really about what that experience is like, what it would mean.
Four of us have been ministers. The fifth is as well, at least as I count such things.
All of us find ourselves deep in the work of community and human development.
One of us is headed for medical school by way of his current non-profit experience after earning the MBA degree from one of America's premier business schools and after a very successful career as a management consultant.
Two own a business--one an ex-offender, the other not.
One pastors a church.
One leads a non-profit organization. One or two appear to be on the way to creating such organizations.
One sold drugs on the streets of South Dallas.
One came out of the "projects" in Philly.
Three of us came from middle class families.
Each of us has learned from our pain.
One of us is "just out," having served 10 years after being successful in ministry for over a decade.
All of us are committed to seeing opportunity and life arrive for people who have been, well, dismissed by the larger culture.
Five determined people.
Three ex-offenders teaching two fairly naive brothers who soak it up.
Five friends trying to figure out how to deliver hope "inside" Texas prisons.
Five friends trying to do whatever it takes to keep kids from getting on that brutal train that stops behind terrible places complete with high walls and razor wire.
Five friends who share faith.
Our discussion ended too quickly. We gathered to meet a new friend who has a dream about how to head off kids so they will never know what he has known.
It was a magic time. We will get back together I know.
Five friends with nothing to conceal. No reason to hide. Total honesty.
Five friends who know "the power" that can obviously make things different.
If we can make it through life, there is hope for everyone!
In that circle I experienced one of those rare moments of absolute assurance.
Thanks, my brothers. Thanks.
Community is amazing.
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