People of the Second Chance (POTSC) is a faith-based, non-profit organization fighting against the “Vulture Culture that celebrates personal destruction, humiliation and the division of people.” POTSC is an authentic community where people who are struggling with personal failures can share their hurts and find their own second chance moments. This is accomplished primarily through social media, media campaigns and the leveraging of tools and resources. This recent POTSC Facebook post summarizes their philosophy well: “Love most when people deserve it least because that’s when they need it most.”
POTSC was birthed in 2010 from a blog Mike Foster and Jud Wilhite used to process their own feelings about grace and second chances when they were forced to close down their organization, Deadly Viper, in 2009.
“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,” the POTSC co-founders say. “All of us wanted to belong and live our dream; no matter what we had done and no matter how hard we had fallen.”
Foster and Wilhite determined to create an organization that would reach out to the marginalized and rejected by creating a counterculture of grace. Since then, POTSC has grown into a “global community of activists, imperfectionists and second chancers committed to unleashing radical grace every day, in every moment, for everyone.” Foster says community is POTSC’s most effective tool in walking out their vision and fulfilling their mission. “It’s our community that dispenses love, acceptance and healing through social media and article feedback. It’s our community that provides personal stories of second chances on the blog. And it’s our community that is enabled by our tools to dispense grace in their everyday lives.”
An example of the power of community is POTSC’s Grace Mob, “insurgents” dedicated to combat judgment with grace. One thing this group does is take on cyber-bullying in a tangible way. If someone is being bullied on a social media site, the grace mob will blast the site with positive comments and messages of support, hope and love.
Labels Lie campaign
POTSC also unleashes the power of social media through innovative media campaigns that bring awareness and affect change. Their “Labels Lie” campaign seeks to unshackle people from the labels that have become embedded in their very identities. This campaign includes a series of photographs of real people stamped with labels such as “You are a stupid retard,” “You are a homo loving fag,” and “You are a no good slut.”
The campaign goes even a step further by revealing how we are often complicit in our own degradation by labeling ourselves. Pinned to their #LABELSLIE Pinterest pinboard, POTSC has a graphic and raw set of photographs—people accepting their labels: a woman whose shoulder is being tattooed with the label “whore,” a man whose forearm is being branded with the word “deadbeat,” and a young boy being ear-tagged with a price tag that reads “Price $ 0.00 Worthless piece of crap.” These images—shared, tweeted, and pinned—are meant to shock people into awareness and action. POTSC urges campaign supporters to tweet: “I believe Labels Lie. Don’t use them. Don’t accept them! #LabelsLie #potsc”
POTSC’s upcoming program that will launch in the fall of 2012 is called Freeway. It is meant to help people take steps from brokenness to life changing transformation. “Every day millions [of people] feel stuck, defeated and exhausted by their baggage while others live unaware of how painful experiences from the past impact their story today,” says POTSC.
“Many fail to connect how their anxiety, perfectionism, escapism, self-condemnation, insecurity and workaholic ways all flow from their unseen brokenness.” Freeway will provide a practical framework for life change comparable to programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Campus Crusade’s Four Spiritual Laws. Like these programs, Freeway offers structure and accountability as participants walk through a process of self-introspection, self-acceptance and development of new patterns of living. “We think of it as a Six-Step Process for Freedom that consolidates the lessons we’ve learned into a tangible, teachable tool,” says Foster.
POTSC believes that stories have power; that your story has power. Through the medium of storytelling they empower “a scandalous awakening of radical grace.” POTSC brings to light stories once filled with shame—hookers and the men who use them, welfare moms, deadbeat dads, alcoholics, molesters and victims of sexual abuse—and by telling their stories, reject shame and embrace redemption and second chances.
Mohan Karulkar, Online Content Coordinator, recently posted on the POTSC blog, “Storytelling for the tribe — the world — is a selfless act that exposes your flaws and failures for the benefit of others. People of the Second Chance is, and has been, a safe place to commit that selfless act, and to then watch the community learn and grow from it.” POTSC believes the human story is one of universal truth and, as we share those stories, we become more interconnected, liberate ourselves from judgment and shame and offer hope to others. “Your scars are beautiful. They tell a beautiful story of healing, grace and love,” says another recent POTSC Facebook post.
The Grace Revolution
What makes POTSC unique in the faith-based community is that they are radically inclusive, reaching out to those people who are on life’s margins and who often feel alienated from more traditional ministries and organizations. POTSC believes faith in God plays a key role in life changing transformation, but they also say that acts of grace aren’t exclusively religious. They believe that grace is about forgiveness and also about our daily interactions with others.
“[Grace is] also present in the behaviors we model – the gossip we choose to reject, the terms we stop using, the company we keep, and the people we stick up for,” explains Foster. “These examples are small and every day, but they add up to a profound rejection of a culture that values personal grudges and juicy celebrity.”
Of course, the harsh contrast between our culture and the “scandalous” grace POTSC promotes often “results in uncomfortable confrontations with ways of thinking, assumptions about people groups, and even deeply-held personal beliefs. This may put people on edge, since radical grace can be painful in the face of a society that often encourages victimhood, revenge, and apathy,” says Foster. POTSC is known for its cutting edge campaigns, but they say their intention is not to be edgy. They simply try to challenge society’s norms and spark conversation and reflection.
Willing to talk honestly and candidly about hurt, pain, failure and disappointment, POTSC isn’t about fairy tale endings. They embrace people in need of radical grace in their moments of failure and offer hope for a second chance no matter what their rock bottom is. POTSC says, “We are the parachute for the falling and the rocket for the comeback.” If you’ve been fumbling around for a parachute or searching for a rocket, you can join the POTSC community on Facebook , Twitter, Pinterest or the POTSC website (potsc.com).