In my blog entry of December 21st, I wrote about Rich Earl who had begun offering free coaching to the unemployed. I recently asked him how it was going—below are two stories from Rich that speak to the ways God has been at work in the lives of those he’s coaching:

Jason (not his real name)- Jason was a frenetic and disoriented mess when he arrived at our first coaching session two months ago. He arrived flustered and with a backpack attached that looked like it was a part of him. He described a background of abuse and abandonment. After years in foster care he ended up homeless on the streets of California. A series of events brought him to our little Pennsylvania coal town. He was doing pretty well until he was fired from his job at a major store chain. When he walked in, he had no goals and was definitely in survival mode. Living alone in a one-room rental, he was desperate for a friend who would not let him down. His shared that his biggest obstacle was needing $12 to get a state ID card. He was so grateful when I was able to connect him the resources to get one, and he made a friend from our church in the process. He was so encouraged, and since that time I have watched him slowly come to life. Religion was not something he was looking for, having had bad experiences in the past. But after our second session he asked if he could come to our church. I said sure, and gave him a Bible. He loves to read and has now become a student of the Word and attends several Bible studies as well as church services. He has reached a number of small goals and expects to be employed again soon. His countenance has lifted as he senses that God loves him.

Diane (not her real name)- Diane came to our little town from the city with her two young children to live with relatives. Although she is only in her early 30s, she has lost all of her teeth and her self-image is very poor. The smallest obstacle will keep her from following through on what she knows she should be doing. In the past two months she has set some reasonable goals including getting her GED, finding a place to live, and getting a job. Her main goal, however is rebuilding her self-respect. She has an appointment to get her new teeth this week, which will be a dramatic step toward her goal. She has also secured an apartment to raise her children in. She will take her GED test this month. Her goal is to open her own Laundromat because she loves talking with and helping people. She is learning that obstacles can be overcome. Diane says that being held accountable and having someone to believe in her has made all the difference.