For Youth Workers Post


Kara Oliver

“In the Habit” session for use with devozine meditations for February 9–15, 2015.


“Some of the most true, painful, and beautiful words I have ever heard are ‘I haven’t forgiven you yet, but I know I will get there.’ As Christians we are told to forgive, to offer grace. But we don’t often talk about the process of getting to the point of forgiveness, living in the aftermath of hurt and betrayal, and rebuilding trust. Some of us may be able to forgive and forget in an instant; but most of us need time, conversation, and patience, whether we are the ones confessing or the ones forgiving. I hope the young people reading this issue of devozine understand that God’s love is available from beginning to end, from transgression to forgiveness, however long it takes.” —Kara


Kara Oliver2 ITH 287170_10150766671795305_1530530_o
Kara Oliver
works, writes, and edits in a cozy room in a house in Nashville, Tennessee. When her son comes home from school or her daughter texts from boarding school, Kara shuts her laptop and focuses on being a mom. She enjoys practicing yoga and eating the yummy meals prepared lovingly by her husband. Every day she is grateful for second chances. Read Kara’s blog “Writing the Journey.”


  • newsprint or whiteboard and markers
  • Bibles
  • paper
  • pens
  • recording and lyrics of the hymn “Amazing Grace” (computer, CD and CD player, or guitar and someone who can sing)
  • (optional) materials for each person that can be written on and erased—for example: whiteboard and markers, chalkboards and chalk, bowls of sand
  • Print-Friendly Version of this session


  • If your group is mature, the “Reconciliation Scene” from the movie Dead Man Walking is powerful.


Young people often feel as if their whole world is on display, that every decision is watched, noticed, and judged by friends, parents, teachers, coaches, strangers, and loved ones. As you prepare for this session, pray that God will help you lead in ways that are free of judgment and full of grace. Pray that each person will hear a word, scripture verse, or prayer that gives him or her the courage to ask for forgiveness or the power to offer forgiveness. Ask God to show you which of the youth may appreciate a follow-up conversation during the week.

Before the group members arrive, write on newsprint or a whiteboard one or more of the tongue twisters below:

  • Old oily Ollie oils old oily autos.
  • She sells seashells on the seashore.
    The shells she sells are seashells, I’m sure.
  • Three free throws.
  • Which witch wished which wicked wish?

Ask volunteers to read a tongue twister out loud, and offer a piece of candy or a snack to those who read it correctly on the first try. At random, choose some group members and give them a second chance while insisting that others only get one chance.

After several minutes, check in with each group member, asking:
       When have you been given a second chance this week?
       When were you not given a second chance?
       How did you feel in each situation?


Scripture: Genesis 45:4–15, Luke 15:11–32, John 8:2–11

Say: “The scriptures are clear: We are to forgive those who sin against us. The scripture passages in devozine this week encourage us to be slow to anger, to be devoted in love, and to forgive all offenses. What stories of the power of forgiveness have you heard? We can be committed to forgiveness and also understand that sometimes reconciliation takes time. Rebuilding a relationship after it has been broken can be awkward or uncomfortable even if we honestly forgive or are forgiven.”

Ask people to form three small groups, and assign each group one of the scripture passages listed below. (Several groups can work on the same passage, or one person can do the work of a group.)

Ask the members of each small group to read their assigned scripture passage and to imagine what happened next.
       When Joseph left the room, what did the brothers really say? Did Joseph have any regrets?
       What was breakfast like the next morning with the two brothers sitting together?
       Where did the woman go when she left? What about the crowd that scattered?

[NOTE: If the group needs additional background for the stories, they can find good synopses of these stories at “Bible Stories About Forgiveness: 5 Inspirational Scripture Summaries” at What Christians Want to Know.]

Ask each group to focus on one character and to make a presentation that answers these questions:
       Did the character deserve a second chance?
       Did he or she live up to the second chance?
Each group may choose to write a skit, a monologue, a news report, or a lost diary entry.

Bring the groups together to present their stories. Then discuss these questions:
       What are the pros and cons of second chances?
       Does every person deserve a second chance? Why? Why not?


Say: “Like Joseph, the returning son, or the woman caught in adultery, in order to receive a second chance, we first need to admit that we have been wrong. Then God wipes the slate clean, just as what Jesus wrote in the sand was blown away.”

Provide materials that each person can write with and erase easily—for example: white boards and dry erase markers, chalkboards and chalk, or sand. If necessary, simply instruct group members to “write” with a finger on the carpet, on floor, or in the air.

Explain that you are going to play the hymn “Amazing Grace.” Encourage group members to pray, during the first stanza, about a second chance they would like to have or a second chance they would like to give someone else. During the second and third stanzas, ask them to write a description of the situation on the materials provided. During the fourth and fifth stanzas, invite them to wipe clean the words, taking note of how they feel. As you play the sixth stanza, have them ask God what the next step should be in their relationship with the people about whom they have prayed.

Start the music, and offer simple prompts to move group members through the process.

Close by singing together at least the first stanza of “Amazing Grace.”


Take time this week to repeat the spiritual exercise for yourself. Is there someone in the group you need to forgive or someone whom you need to ask for forgiveness? Consider sharing an appropriate situation with the youth you mentor. The young people in our lives are watching to see if we walk the talk. Your vulnerability and integrity will demonstrate to the young people that second chances are real.

—from devozine In the Habit (January/February 2015). Copyright © 2015 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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