In the aftermath of welfare reform (CT, April 7, 1997, p. 46), Jobs Partnership is proving that the Bible has much to say about the value of work and how it should be done—values that are beginning to transform some communities with chronic unemployment problems.
Jobs Partnership began three years ago as a way of matching business leaders with pastors of different denominations and races to develop a program teaching a biblically based work ethic to the under- or unemployed. Today, groups in 22 cities nationally and 10 North Carolina counties are part of the program. Jobs Partnership national director Skip Long expects that 40 new groups—including ones from Ireland, Uganda, and Trinidad and Tobago—will start within the next year. The success rate is solid. In Raleigh, North Carolina, where the program began, 178 of the 190 people who completed the 12-week training course at least two years ago are in full-time jobs.
One achiever is Gerald Simms, a 22-year-old Richmond former drug dealer now employed as a brick mason. "Just because you live in the inner city doesn't mean you have to have the mind of the inner city," Simms says. "If you have the Lord, you can do anything."
Jobs Partnership uses a biblically based weekly training curriculum to establish new attitudes toward work. The curriculum covers such topics as integrity, stewardship, communication, conflict resolution, and attitude in the context of honoring God. The program also offers a hands-on biblical human-resources development component, which teaches participants how to devise a resume, complete a job application, and prepare for an interview. Each participant is assigned a mentor for up to two years, a relationship that bridges race and geography. Materials are free.
Long says, "Our goal is going from welfare to getting well—it's not just about getting a job." Raleigh United Church of Christ minister Donald McCoy and highway construction company executive Chris Mangum cofounded Jobs Partnership.
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