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Closing Sessions and Closing Ceremonies

written by Dwane Rose

Today was the third and final day of the conference. The men started by learning God’s plan for healing and grieving from Jermaine and Willie. Considering the deep trauma of the area, giving them permission to grieve was needed. These men are hungry for truth. It was evident watching faces and hearing some later individual discussions that they were drinking in God’s word and being refreshed. We continued with our final session on conflict resolution by Mark and then forgiveness by Jimmy. During the forgiveness discussion, we used the example of carrying heavy rocks in a backpack. I unloaded it with my burdens of anger, sadness, fear and desire for justice. The participants have much need for forgiveness even in areas that are difficult to hear because of the depth of pain.

We continued with our final session on conflict resolution by Mark and then forgiveness by Jimmy. During the forgiveness discussion, we used the example of carrying heavy rocks in a backpack. I unloaded it with my burdens of anger, sadness, fear, and desire for justice. The participants have much need for forgiveness, even in areas that are difficult to hear because of the depth of pain. We are blessed that God heals pain and helps us forgive others.

Willie then lead us in a time where we each could give our troubles to God. Everyone wrote burdens they had, and we carried our burdens to a cross one of the participants build for us. We all had the gift of leaving them there. Some men carried their papers on their head. Upon reaching the cross, they passionately wadded up the paper and threw it in basket at the base of the cross. With arms raised, they walked back to their seat.

We then had the privilege of giving each man a couple of gifts that had been provided by Watermark. They were neckties and solar-powered flashlights. As I handed out the ties, some of the participants reacted as if I had given them the most treasured item possible. They are so grateful for everything. The solar-powered flashlights are important. As I have experienced here in the hotel, power often goes out – and that is for the fortunate ones. Many do not have electricity at home.

It has been an absolute joy to see, each day, how God has selected each man to deliver His words. The personal experience of each matched the topic at hand. Being vulnerable by relating personal failures and struggles allowed trust and understanding, regardless of country or skin color.

During the closing ceremony, several participants shared what they had learned in the three days. For the men, common themes were conflict resolution, forgiveness, and leading themselves. It was a joy to see them take responsibility by drawing a circle around themselves and aiming to fix what is inside.

The hard part of the day was saying goodbye. More properly stated, saying “See you later” until I see my new friends again. If not before, heaven is going to be a fun party seeing our new brothers!

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