The camp at which I work hosts a week for 80 Juvenile delinquents from the state of north carolina. I don’t get much time to use the internet so this will be brief, but we had a very interesting week this week. For one, compared to the gangbanging convicted felons Ive had in the past two years, the five guys I had this week were angels. They did not put up walls to Christianity like the majority of the other juveniles. In fact, they had all experienced some sort of conversion sometime in the last year and were hear at camp ready to change their lives. Their crimes were mostly petty felonies, if there are such things, such as weapons charges, breaking and entering, and drug possession. Instead of getting blank stares and early snorers when I played this Lecrae song late at night so they could listen to the lyrics, they were all intrigued and sincerely connected to the battle of the flesh described in the song. I had 20 min – 1 hour conversations with all of them about their lives back home and their goals for the future. Simply put, it was a week full of hope that these kids are not trapped in their cultural blackholes like I had previously feared.
I am of the opinion, however, that it was God who opened the hearts of these troubled young men. Without that act occuring before they even arrived, my words, like pearls, would have fallen before swine and been trampled. Wisdom is heard by the wise, ignored by the ignorant. This is the work of the LORD, and I was quite privileged to see it in action.
For many at risk youth, however, this is not the case. Without the movement of the LORD in the soul, even the most compelling rational arguments against certain lifestyle choices will fall on hard hearts – rocky soil. I witnessed this first hand as well in an early morning meeting when the camp speaker for the week gave the speech attached below. His idea was that he didn’t want any of the kids to leave the room being able to say “well no one ever told me” – “no one ever told me what the consequences of my actions would be.” So Pastor Skip from Miami Florida beared his soul and made the most compelling argument against gangs I have ever heard. At the end of it, it was literally irrational for these men to choose to stay with their gangs, except for fear of what would happen to them if they left. Yet the response was not what I had pictured.
“Reality. I think sometimes
people don’t tell you guys what reality is. But here it is.
There is no safe way to stay
in the gang and stay alive. The very nature of gang life is not about
love or family. It is about war. War within yourself and with others
on the streets that live in different parts of town and wear different
Is the neighborhood you live
in worth losing a child over? Is the neighborhood you live in worth
being in a wheelchair the rest of your life or being in a bed with all
kinds of tubes running into you, someone wiping your butt for you, waiting
for you to eventually die? Is it worth dying for?
A lot of kids say, “yeah,
I’d die for my Nation, my hood, whatever.” But they are full of
it. When they are laying in the street with their guts hanging out,
urinating on themselves, bleeding their life’s blood into a gutter that
they never owned in the first place, reality hits them then. And they know
then that there is no coming back. No second chance. And that rag on
their head ends up trying to patch the bleeding hole in their body.
And for all the promises their
gang has made to them, about loyalty, love, and brotherhood,
that gang cannot raise them from the dead.
Only you can stop the event
beforehand. Now is that time. Now is your second chance. I don’t know
what it would take exactly. But I guarantee you that when you lie dying
you will wish that you had done anything to get out. Now is your chance to get out.
We gamble all the time. You
gamble that you will not die, living day to day with your gang. But
if God came and told you Himself that you are going to die in two days
if you don’t get away from it, would you listen?
Well I can’t give you the exact
time, but I would be willing to bet that day is coming.
All that is not to scare you.
I am pretty sure living the life you have had to live, not much does
scare you. Its not about being scared, its about reality.
Every day I get emails from
gang members asking similar things. Most of them, however, are asking
how to get out. Some are Surenos / Surenas, some are Bloods, Crips,
Gangster Disciples, even MS13. They are afraid to go to their “brothers
/ sisters” in the gang to tell them these fears. But isn’t that
the opposite of what a gang is supposed to be for? Some brotherhood
huh? Family is supposed to love you no matter what. Not just love you
if you wear the same colors. Not just love you as long as you play by their rules. Family loves you for who you are. They want what is in your best interest.
There are others like you.
They will never tell you though, because they are afraid that they will
pay consequences, even die if they tell the gang they want out of this
way of death. That is what it is you know. Not a way of life but of
death. Sometimes horrible death. The choice is yours. You can choose death or you can choose life and freedom. “