Everyone has a story, but it’s what you do with it that matters.

Today is one of the most difficult days of the 40-Day Challenge. It is “Life Story” day. For the past two weeks we have been teaching that one’s past does not need to define one’s future. As part of that process, we ask each man to document his life story on poster board and share it with the class.

Most of the life stories we hear are absolutely heartbreaking.

For most of us, the reality that these men have grown up in is something we only experience in a movie theater or a book. But for the men at 4:13 Strong, this is the life they know.

There seems to be some common themes showing up in the stories we hear: some type of traumatic experience in early childhood, a home environment that is broken, a lack of nurturing and encouragement, and no positive male role models. The men then turn to the streets at an early age for the stability and affirmation they are not getting at home. It usually starts with drugs – first using and then selling. Guns, gangs and violence then follow. Mix in some robbery and assault and now you have the basic pattern for the life stories we hear. For these men, time in jail is more of an expectation than a deterrent, and the chances of being in a shootout are greater than the chances of graduating high school.

4:13 Strong Class

They want their future to look different from their past.

All of the men who shared their stories today have one thing in common. They want their future to look different from their past. They want to walk away from the life they know and pursue an opportunity to become someone different. But that path is not an easy one. The streets don’t want to let these men go. There are the days when every step forward comes with an equal number of steps back. That is why every 4:13 Strong success story is so amazing. These men are defying the odds and breaking free from their past. They are finding their faith, taking an active role in their children’s lives and impacting future generations.

Our 4:13 Strong men are starting a new chapter.

Come join us on Thursday, August 22 as we celebrate the men that have completed the 4:13 Strong program. We will have a graduation ceremony at 6pm followed by some refreshments. This is the perfect way to acknowledge what these men have accomplished and encourage them as they begin the next chapter of their new life.