Bridgette Bowman is the Executive Director of the MARRS program, whose offices are housed on the CUMC campus and is a local missions partner of the church.

She will be speaking in the Cornerstone Sunday school classes at 9:45 and 11:00 in Wilson/Ross 409-12 this Sunday, August 24. All are welcome.

Bridgette shares what has been on her heart recently during her work at MARRS:

Guest post by Bridgette Bowman, Executive Director of MARRS

MARRS

Keusi Donald of MARRS with Lee, a recent graduate of the program who is beginning college at Xavier University this fall

The mission of the MARRS program is to intervene in the lives of first and second-time juvenile offenders.”

I know I must have proudly recited this line at least a thousand times over the years; but it was not until today that I realized we do much more than that.

Two weeks ago, we had the honor of being challenged and trusted by the Juvenile Court of Memphis/Shelby County to work with a young man who ordinarily would not have been considered as a candidate for the MARRS program. He has been before the court numerous times in the last couple of years (for a series of non-violent offenses) and has not shown any significant progress. I heard one person describe the 14-year old as “a kid that cannot be rehabilitated.”

As I listened to this dismal projection about this young man’s future, my heart broke. When did we start giving up on our children?

As for us, the answer is NEVER.

As previously mentioned, the judge presiding over the case graciously decided to give the young man one last chance. She assigned him to the MARRS program.

Without going into details, our first meeting with the family yielded blessings we had no idea were coming. The primary intent (or so we thought) was to work with the young man assigned to us by the court; but, it turned out to be so much more.

We met a family whose needs challenged MARRS to do, be, and give more than it had ever done before. The situation called for us to be more than a service, it called us to be servants. We were reminded of more than our mission. We were reminded of our purpose.

The least of the many blessings (if such a thing exists) is that most of the family’s physical needs will be met within a few days. The greatest of the blessings is that we caught a glimpse for what it looks like when we take God-opportunities to do what He has told us to do and to be who He has called us to be–accepting the fact that it will often require us to go beyond our broad mission statements and go deeper than our job titles and job descriptions.

As I reflect on this MARRS case, several thoughts capture me:

  • The power of restorative justice–what can happen when all the stakeholders come together to help a young person make right as best he or she can the wrong(s) that have been committed. It is more powerful than retribution or punishment.
  • Real second chances and forgiveness–these are key elements for the young person’s ability to successfully move forward.
  • The value of genuine relationships–by being led out of our self-imposed box of program limitations, the MARRS staff was reminded of 1) what it means to be a servant versus being service provider, and 2) the vital difference between a cause and a call.
  • Availability–We have to be prepared to go deeper with those who honor us by participating in the MARRS program. We have to be willing to do whatever and however God wants to use us as we serve young people and their families.

Although some people believe this young man cannot be rehabilitated, we know that he can be restored and reconciled and we get to play a small part in it all.

Come hear Bridgette speak in the Cornerstone Sunday school classes at 9:45 and 11:00 this Sunday, August 24 in Wilson/Ross 409-12. 

Find out more about MARRS at cumcmemphis.org/marrs

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