If your class is meeting online, do the following timeline on a screenshared document.
Prior to your group time, draw a straight line on the whiteboard. Write the word “birth” at one end of the line and “death” at the other end of the line. Draw this line as long as you possibly can (you might start at the bottom left hand corner and draw your line diagonally up to the upper right hand corner). Students will be adding events to this line during group time.
As students enter, direct them to the whiteboard and invite them to add a possible/potentially big life event where it might happen along the line. For example: finishing elementary school; starting middle school; graduating from high school, college, or university; marriage; career; kids; graduate school; career change; having children leave the home (empty nest); retirement, etc. Each student should write something different and should try to fit it in where it would logically come in the timeline of life.
After the timeline looks full, have students each come up with one life-changing, difficult scenario based on a big life event on the board (for example if “kids” is written on the timeline, a student might now write, “child born disabled”). Other examples of what students might write could include: getting diagnosed with a severe illness, failing a class or grade, losing a grandparent, getting a college scholarship, marriage, starting a family, moving because of a job, being laid off or losing a job, severely injured in an accident, losing a loved one due to neglect or a crime, being cheated out of money in a scam, experiencing debt, etc. These events should correspond with the events already written on the line. Invite each student to add a scenario (you might want to write them in the appropriate spot as your students call them out to avoid sprawling entries that take too much space). DO NOT ERASE THE BOARD! (If your class is meeting online, you can stop sharing the document until Step 4.) This timeline will be used again in Step 4.
Life is filled with all kinds of twists and turns—some of them expected, and others not. Sometimes really bad things happen in life—take this man who lost his brother, Botham Jean, in an accidental police shooting. Let’s watch to see how the brother reacts when he meets the woman who harmed his family.
Share this video with your students [3:14; stop at 1:27]:
Brandt Jean to Amber Guyger: ‘I forgive you’
After watching the video, invite students to answer the following questions.
- How would you feel if you experienced the pain this man experienced—of knowing his brother was forever gone from this earth? (Answer will vary. Most students will feel sadness and some anger at the person who took this man’s brother from him.)
- What do you think went through the woman’s mind when Brandt Jean spoke forgiveness instead of hate to her? (Answers will vary. Most students will say she was probably shocked and overwhelmed.)
- Has there ever been a time when you displayed mercy toward someone who wronged you, or when someone extended mercy toward you? Tell us about it.
- Have you or someone you have known ever been shown mercy when justice was deserved? (Invite students who want to share about this instance to do so.)
Justice was served. This woman is serving her 10-year sentence for this mistake. However, mercy also was shown by the victims’ brother, Brandt Jean. Is it possible for mercy and justice to co-exist? God is merciful and just. That is what today’s lesson is all about. Dig in to find out more.