LAST CHANCE

LAST CHANCE

Here we are in season 3 of Last Chance U. This time the backdrop is the small town of Independence, Kansas. A town without any significant notoriety. Just some hard working people dedicated to family, community and football.

However, over the last twenty years Independence has had very little to cheer about.The ever changing culture of politics before people has caused their small town to dwindle. Nonetheless, that hasn’t stopped them from loving their sports, but unfortunately the junior college football team hasn’t provided them any bragging rights.

The local junior college also referred to as the Independence Community Pirates has never been a football powerhouse. However that’s all about to change thanks to the vision of ICC  (Independence Community College) President Dan Barwick who hires a controversial coach from Compton, California named Jason Brown. Coach Brown just so happens to be a fiery, tell it as it is coach that barks many expletives to motivate his players to run through walls. Not to mention, he was a “white gangbanger” that grew up in one of the toughest times and locations in the country during the 80’s.

With all the focus on Brown’s next move he lays out a plan. The plan is quite simple, recruit outside the local area. In fact, he goes well outside the state to meet with parents and prospective recruits. For the majority of the players this is their LAST CHANCE. Many have been kicked out of school and dropped from some of the top collegiate programs in the country for things such as grades, drugs, attitudes, injuries and the like.

On the Field

Their season begins with a blistering loss of 70-21 to a rivalry school. Nevertheless, that doesn’t deter Coach Brown. He accepts the challenge as he makes the following statement on camera, “Well, that’ll be a great story. See if these guys can come back or they’ll be exploited on national television as the worst JUCO (Junior College) in the country.”

Coach Brown gets the players to believe in themselves, execute the calls and trust the process. They completely follow through! Then miraculously the Pirates take on a winning streak like never seen before. That doesn’t mean they don’t have their challenges. Now they just work together to overcome them.

Off the Field

Off the field on to the classroom where English Professor LaTonya Pinkard burst onto the scene. Professor Pinkard is invested in helping each of her students achieve something outside of the field that their families have never witnessed. She gets personal and up close by understanding their challenges. She instills in them a belief that there’s more that they can accomplish outside of football.

For many, football is their only HOPE. That’s because many of her students come from backgrounds that are less supportive in the classroom and more focused on survival by any means necessary.

This isn’t Professor Pinkard’s first rodeo. She’s seen it all before with the athletes that have big personalities off the field and unexplored potential in the classroom. In fact, she is quoted saying… “I can go around the room right now and point out who will make it and who won’t. I see the train wreck coming. And I’m thinking, I am the train so … move.” — English professor LaTonya Pinkard

Even with all the academic challenges she is par for the course. Pinkard starts a book club to help the students expand their thinking and improve their vocabulary. She’s there for them at every game; a cheerleader for the underdog, underprivileged and the wayward.

Connecting the Dots

Just like the players of the LAST CHANCE. We are living in an era where this might be our LAST CHANCE. We’ve all made mistakes, done or said something we would later regret and of course experienced setbacks. There are many that have fallen on hard times. For the players of LAST CHANCE U this really is their LAST CHANCE. Is it ours, as well?

As a country we are separated by our policies, divided by our leaders, and segregated on Sunday by our choices and churches. We have elected one of the most controversial leaders of any past president. The presidency holds the highest political office in the nation. He or She is supposed to be concerned with advancing policies for all people. In many regards, the president is supposed to be an inspiring example for ALL people to behold.

Unlike Coach Brown our President has not met the challenge of getting the people to believe in themselves. He has not been able to convince the people to run through walls for the same common purpose. He has failed to endear the people to TRUST the process. In fact, the verdict felt by many is that he has divided our country. We are being led by a leader that freely makes lewd comments about women, openly criticizes other world leaders and agrees with the former head of the KGB on intelligence matters.

He has doubled down his rhetoric towards the media or anyone who exercises their first amendment rights against him. Most recently he lashed out on Twitter towards a former white house staffer being quoted as referring to her as a “dog”. “When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out,” Trump tweeted. “Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!”

America we have found ourselves in a time of great divide. The strides for freedom, advancement and equality are in grave danger. In the efforts of “Making America Great Again” our country has been exposed and the highest office of the nation has been hijacked. The past 18 months have brought more controversial headlines than any other era in our country’s history. When it comes to the conversation of race, gender and equality, too many leaders have towed party lines instead of enacting equitable policies for the disenfranchised and underprivileged groups. Our country has become the laughing stock amongst other nations. We continue to provoke our allies and provide ammunition to our enemies.

Could this be our LAST CHANCE?

For some we profess a belief in God, but it’s questionable if others can see it. Is God glorified by our actions as a nation? Is God pleased with how we treat other races? Is He pleased with how we tout Christianity on Sunday and Monday, but fail to inscribe His truth in our heart the rest of the week? Is God pleased with how we misquote His scriptures for our own political and social agendas? Is it really about God? Is it really about advancing a Kingdom agenda? Or, is it only about money, power and notoriety?

It’s not unusual to see the President of the United States or a prominent Evangelical Preacher on television defending their actions while justifying their choices on issues that impact the people. Sadly, while all of the balderdash is being exchanged, our communities are suffering. Our children and youth are desperate for examples of hope. They need to see more than conflict, chaos and controversy. They need more than just sports and entertainment. Our prisons are growing at a rapid rate and recidivism is kicked around as a topic, but not dealt with as an issue.

This is NOT an indictment against any particular leader, church, group or organization that is striving to make an impact and change lives. This is a call to action! This is the LAST CHANCE for all of us to be “woke” and recognize that we are playing right into the adversaries hand. The accuser of the brethren, “Satan”, is laughing as the divide continues to grow. If we are ever going to advance as a nation, we must acknowledge our differences, find agreement in our commonalities and have a real conversation about the issues.

Like the players of the LAST CHANCE, if God were to give you one LAST CHANCE, how would your choices glorify Him? How would your words uplift, encourage and inspire His people? How would your actions demonstrate humility, unity and Godly love? Like Professor Pinkard who are YOU going to mentor, disciple with the Gospel of Jesus Christ  and give back to? How would you act tomorrow if today was your LAST CHANCE? What are YOU going to do significantly different for the Kingdom of God?