Getting a Second Chance?

By Mark A. Kellner | Posted January 28, 2020

Jennifer Moffard, Rayshun Holt, and Gina Johnson are folks you might not notice on a busy sidewalk. They’re not renowned politicians; they’re not star athletes; nor have they competed on a reality TV show.

But in their own way, Moffard, Holt, and Johnson are worthy of notice: They’re ex-convicts who are doing something many former prisoners find impossible. They’re holding down jobs that provide a good wage, the chance for a promotion, and a way to rebuild their lives—all thanks to a pioneering business in Cincinnati, Ohio, called the Nehemiah Manufacturing Company.

The ten-year-old firm makes cleaning products and personal care items, but it’s also in the business of rebuilding lives. CEO Dan Meyer told The Wall Street Journal, “We are about second chances, third chances. I may go to five.”

The Benefits of Second Chances

Approximately 80 percent of Nehemiah Manufacturing Company employees have criminal records, a fact that has sometimes been challenging. The routines of showing up on time, behaving responsibly, meeting conflict, handling pressure—all common to the workaday world many of us experience—can be daunting to someone who was once incarcerated and denied choices.

But the company has worked to resolve these issues by putting in place a social services team that helps employees with things such as housing, getting criminal records expunged, and navigating the demands of daily life. For Gina Johnson, who at age 56 has had only a seventh-grade education and years of drug-related convictions, getting hired at Nehemiah was life-changing.

“I never knew what a goal was until I got here,” Johnson told the Journal. Now, she’s reconnected with her adult children and is working on getting her GED, the equivalent of a high school diploma. “It’s good for the kids to say they are proud of me,” Johnson added.

Ultimately, offering ex-convicts a second chance has paid dividends to the firm: Turnover is less than half that of other companies in the field, and its operating income roughly ten percent of gross sales.

“We found that the population we were hiring who had criminal backgrounds were our most loyal people,” said the firm’s president, Richard Palmer. “When we were looking for people to work overtime, come in on Saturday or go that extra mile, it was the second-chance population that was saying, ‘I’m in.’”

While Amazing Facts does not endorse working on Saturday, the Bible Sabbath, the acts of dedication and gratitude by these post-incarceration employees is certainly of note. As they are willing to go above and beyond for the company that gave them a second chance, we should all respond in like manner to our Savior Jesus Christ, who gave us another chance at life when we did not deserve it.

We the Prisoners

We may not be sitting in a jail cell, but our sins make us just as guilty as anyone behind bars. Psalm 14:3 says, “There is none who does good, no, not one.” In Isaiah 59:2, we read, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God.” Romans 6:22 describes sin as a type of imprisonment, akin to slavery.

But the Scriptures do not end there. They also tell of the one key that unlocks those prison doors: Jesus Christ, God Himself, who “makes you free” (John 8:36). With Christ, not only can we be forgiven for our sins (Ephesians 1:7), but we can sin no more (1 John 3:5, 6). “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

It seems fitting then that the Nehemiah Manufacturing Company has biblical origins, named after the prophet who rebuilt Jerusalem’s wall. In the Old Testament account, Nehemiah was a man of faith who claimed God’s promise to give the Israelites another chance.

And it is not only the Nehemiah Manufacturing Company that offers prisoners another chance to turn their lives around. Faith-based efforts for inmates have a long history in the United States, following the Bible’s instruction to be merciful to others as God is to each of us (Luke 6:36). Take, for example, Prison Fellowship, a Christian nonprofit that assists prisoners and ex-prisoners with forging new lives. The ministry was founded by Chuck Colson of Watergate infamy, who himself was sentenced to federal prison for his crime. Additionally, Amazing Facts International has long supplied Bible study materials to those behind bars, resulting in testimonies of remarkable second chances.

Indeed, the Bible tells us that we have all been given a second chance. That second chance is the life we are leading right now, today. Acts 16:31 urges us to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” And Joshua 24:15 says to “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.” The choice must be made now, every hour of every day.

Amazing Facts’ first speaker Joe Crews put it this way: “Adam and Eve had their second chance in this life. They did not continue in sin and then depend upon a future existence to right themselves before their Creator. They accepted the promise at once and began striving to live in a way that was pleasing to God. As Paul said to the Corinthians, ‘Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation’” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Don’t confuse Christ’s second chance with His second coming either, for the Scriptures say there will be no second chance when He arrives (Revelation 22:11). Let us instead spend our days on this earth preparing for His soon coming. For an in-depth look at this all-important topic, check out Pastor Doug Batchelor’s sermon, “How to Live in the Last Days.”

Take God’s opportunity for a life renewed; it is God’s free gift to you.

Mark Kellner
Mark A. Kellner is a staff writer for Amazing Facts International. He is a veteran journalist whose work has been published in Religion News Service, The Washington Times, and numerous computer magazines.

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