Duration: 60-90 minutes
Enhancer of Joy
Lesson Developed by
Anne E. Streaty Wimberly and Sarah F. Farmer
Exploring Stories of Seeking and Experiencing Hope and Healing
Tips to Prepare
- Pray for your students, review the session, and examine your own life story.
- Gather the stories of a myriad of historical figures that you can share with the young people for the duration of this process.
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas OR The Hate U Give movie
Setting the Atmosphere
- Play music as students enter the room. Music should be energetic and uplifting.
- Set up students in a circle so they can engage in dialogue with one another.
Romans 5:5 – and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
The purpose of this session is for young people to reflect on their stories of seeking and experiencing hope and healing, in light of the Christian faith story, in order to guide their positive being and acting in the world.
Youth will engage in a story-linking process by connecting their everyday story with the Christian faith story found in Scripture and in stories of historical figures.
Tune, Romal J. God’s Graffiti: Inspiring Stories for Teens. Valley Forge, PA Judson Press, 2013.
Wimberly, Anne Streaty, and Sarah Frances Farmer. Raising Hope: 4 Paths to Courageous Living for Black Youth. Nashville, TN: General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, 2017.
Wimberly, Anne Streaty. Soul Stories: African American Christian Education. Rev. ed. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2005.
The Hate U Give Study Guide, accessible on: https://www.gradesaver.com/the-hate-u-give/stsudy-guide/summary
Introduction for Leaders
There are many ways to engage young people in their everyday story. One way is to use case studies and then help them to reflect on them. Another way is to show a movie or read excerpts of a novel with young people. A clear outline of this process can be found in Soul Stories by Anne Wimberly, which is listed as a resource in the reference section. The time this activity takes will depend on whether this is a follow-up to screening the movie, or whether you decide to use excerpts from the novel in the “Disclose the Everyday Story” portion of this lesson.
Gather (5 minutes)
Prayer and Greeting
- At the opening of the session, begin with a prayer of thanks to God for the gathering of the group, God’s presence, and what we will discover during our time together.
- Read the Scripture focus:
And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:5)
- Then invite students to greet one another and to share with another youth in their group how good it is to see them today.
Introduction to the Session
- Youth leaders can open with the following introduction:
“One of the most sacred things any one can do is to share their story. Stories are revelatory, shedding light on a person’s hopes, dreams, and even where God might be at work in a person’s life. How many of you are pretty open to share your story with others?
Well today, we want to engage in a process called story-linking. The process of story-linking sounds just like its name—we will link stories in order to gain a perspective about how to live and act in the world. We will both hear and share stories with one another. These stories will be our own life stories, stories from the faith tradition, and stories from the African-American faith tradition.
Are you ready? Well, let’s begin!”
Engage (40 minutes)
Activity 1: Disclose the Everyday Story.
- Invite students to watch portions from the movie The Hate U Give or to read Angie Thomas’ book The Hate U Give. The leaders should be aware that The Hate U Give is a novel published in 2017 that was made into a movie by the same name. It is about a sixteen-year-old Black girl named Starr Carter who tackles the tough reality of being black. Upon observing the police shoot and kill a childhood friend, Starr struggles with her own identity, direction in her life and how best to reach it, and the meaning of standing up for what is right. The story forthrightly tackles present-day social issues, views of self, and calls for critical thinking on the nature of hope and healing amidst the toughness of life. The leaders will need to view the movie and select the portions they would like to show.
Recommendations of excerpted passages might come from Chapters 1 and 10.
- Tell students that you want them to look/listen carefully to what is happening in the story. In particular, ask them to look/listen for evidence of positive and negative self-perceptions that emerge from The Hate U Give. Tell them that the scenes and language in the book are realistic and can be a bit graphic.
- Invite students to pay particular attention to Starr.
“Throughout the book/movie, you can see her identity evolving as different life events happen to her and around her.”
“Look/listen for Starr’s social context—her home, her community, and her school. (It is very clear in the novel that these are where her self-perceptions emerge). How would you say each of these places made a difference in how Starr viewed herself? What would you say are her views of who she is?”
“Look/listen to the circumstances that happen in her life that cause these self-perceptions to emerge. What scenes in her school make Starr think about who she is? What caused the greatest shift in Starr’s views of herself and the world around her? What words would you use to describe the shift that took place in Starr about herself and the world around her?”
“How did Starr’s perception of herself in the beginning of the movie inhibit her from fulfilling her purpose? What changes in her self-identity throughout the narrative liberated her to fulfill her purpose? In what parts of the story would you say hope is lost and found in Starr’s life?”
Activity 2: Critically Reflect on the Case Material
- Invite students into a time of reflection.
- Ask them to share with the group their responses to the above questions.
Activity 3: Identify with the Case Study Material
- Thank students for sharing with the group. Tell them that you honor their reflections and want to invite them into deeper reflection on the ways Starr’s story or characters within The Hate U Give might connect with their own lives.
- Invite them to respond to the following questions:
- Which character in this narrative do you relate with most?
- In what ways is that character’s story your story?
- What memories or self-perceptions and social contexts did their stories trigger in you?
- How would you respond to the issues that were raised?
Reflect (10 minutes)
Activity 4: Journaling
- Invite students into a time of journaling. Ask them to write about one thing they will take with them about their own identity after engaging in the group reflection and discussion.
Send Forth (5 minutes)
- Tell students that the issues raised in this book are not easy. Remind them that life’s circumstances and the way we are treated may put us to shame, but God’s love for us gives us dignity and grace; and that love gives us hope. Also, the senseless killing of black lives is not an act of God, and that God is a God of justice; and there is room for us to be God’s hands and feet in bringing about justice in the world.
- Say to the group that you invite them to give some thought to the Scripture Focus as you read it:
And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
- Close by saying that what Starr’s father said to her also applies to them. Remind them that God has given them a light to shine bright. Tell them they are “stars” in a world that is often very dark.
- Ask the young people do they have specific prayers they want to hold before God for their communities. Once the young people have shared, invite a young person to close out the group in prayer.