Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how His ways will really satisfy you. Romans 12:2
You could hear a pin drop as the room was filled with the sound of a single snare drum. This marching cadence, for most, was very familiar. You could hear the steps in unison as the flag corp marched...left, left, left, right, left. These words echoed through the room and created an environment you could literally feel of true patriotism. This sound was nothing new to these incarcerated veterans. All of these men previously served, marched and fought for our freedom during their years of service to our country.
The flag corp marched in perfect harmony each holding a flag that represented each branch of the United States armed forces. Their steps were precise and perfectly in sync. In this moment, this cadence took many of the men back to a place in their mind that was no longer behind prison wire. The room full of veterans stood tall and at attention while saluting the American flag as they had so many times in their past. The memory for many was a time in life when they walked in a place of respect, pride and significance which for many, felt like a lifetime ago.
There was also something very special and unique about this particular KPM Leadership Academy graduation. The men wanted to incorporate "The Missing Man" table at the beginning of the program to honor their fallen comrades. Those who never returned home from war. The symbolism in the missing man ceremony is so powerful. There was so much depth. Not only was this a representation of those who never returned from war, but many of these men are missing from their homes and some knowing they may never return. Our lives were greatly impacted as they presented Kent the American flag and I lit the candle on the table. We were blessed to be asked to be part of this meaningful ceremony.
During the graduation four of the veteran men shared powerful testimonies of how their life had been changed through the KPM Leadership Academy "Beyond Success" program. It was so amazing to hear in their words how their lives had been impacted.
They shared how they are learning that they have value! That value doesn't come from what others have said about you, or what you have believed about yourself. Value comes from what God says about YOU and who HE created you to be. Once they begin to value themselves, they learn how to begin to value others. Many said for the first time they are thinking differently and are seeing and feeling change.
One of the men shared that he had been told his whole life that he was a loser. So most of his life these words rang so loud in his mind that he walked out the destiny that they had set for him. Because these powerful words painted a negative inner image he lost at everything! His self esteem was so low because he believed what he had been told and allowed others to build this narrative for his own life which ultimately lead him to prison.
He shared that when he attended our class, that he heard something that was very foreign to his way of thinking. He said, "During the course, I learned something new every class. One of the most profound things I learned was this..... "What I think is what I say. What I say is what I do. And, what I do is who I become." And then, Kent and Priscilla had us say at the end I AM _____________ and we were challenged to fill in the blank with our new power thought of who we want to become. We were encouraged to overcome any limiting beliefs that have held us captive in the past. We were encouraged to read this quote and fill in a new I Am statement everyday. And not just write it, but say it out loud!
He then proudly said, "So let me share with you today, that I AM NOT A LOSER!" He held his piece of paper with all of his I AM statements written out and proudly and confidently said, I AM a winner, I AM courageous, I AM an overcomer, I AM a child of God, I AM a blessing, I AM successful..... just to to mention a few. He read the entire list!
It was such a powerful moment for all of us as we cheered him on! For the first time in his life he had hope of a new identity. He felt as though for once in a long time there were new possibilities for him as he chartered this new territory in his thinking and his relationship with Jesus Christ.
We now are regenerating this course to a new group of veterans. We have already trained our roundtable facilitators and our students have gone through the course orientation. We are excited that this course will begin this week.
Our current graduates will now proceed to a mastermind, entrepreneurship training course. We will now have two courses that will be taught simultaneously. We are also about to launch this same program into another unit. Thank you for your prayers for favor as we expand the programs within the academy.