By Mike Foster:
I wish our story had started differently. We had no ribbon cutting or celebratory ground breaking. No blind idealism or inspirational grand opening.
Our movement known as People of the Second Chance was birthed out of failure. In 2009, Jud Wilhite and I were leading an organization called Deadly Viper that helped leaders live with integrity. We were helping thousands of men and women make good choices and lives were being impacted daily.
In March, 2009 a small, online activist group put us in their cross hairs. They labeled our message as racist and called for a national boycott. The personal attacks, pressure on our partners and the harsh criticism grew in number each day. Twenty days after the boycott started, our end came quickly. The products were removed from store shelves, Deadly Viper would be shut down and we were left to pick up the pieces. It was a painful and embarrassing ending.
So in the midst of this personal and professional storm, we started a simple WordPress blog. We called it “People of the Second Chance” and it was a place to process thoughts on grace and second chances. Each day we fought the urge to give up or to be bitter or to strike back or just throw in the towel. Trust me, we wanted to.
We wrote and shared more out of therapy than as revolutionaries. Each blog post reminded us that every adversity carries with it a seed for something better. As we shared on the blog, something beautiful started to happen. We realized we were not alone.
We found fellow second chancers, misfits, fighters and friends who shared a common story. Each one of us were looking for ways to fit in again, breathe again and know that our stories didn’t end in the valley. All of us wanted to belong and live our dreams…no matter what we had done and no matter how hard we had fallen.
What was, in our minds, just a blog, quickly turned into a grassroots movement. We took each other’s hand and quietly whispered to each other, “It’s going to be OK.”
In October, 2010 People of the Second Chance became an official organization. We launched a simple website, put out our manifesto called “Gracenomics” and activated an online community to live out grace.
Today we are a growing global, diverse community of 30,000 second chancers committed to unleashing radical grace everyday, in every moment, for everyone. And we are helping each other- we are carrying each other’s burdens, coaching, producing disruptive content, taking down vulture culture online, creating killer tools and connecting in groups. All of us, every failure, every broken down warrior, every soul looking to belong, are People of The Second Chance.
Through this season I’ve realized that you can’t always pick your beginnings or your endings. But you can bravely live your story and embrace what is. Each one of us is bonded by hope, redemption and possibility. This is your story. This is my story. And it’s just getting started.