Upon you I have leaned from my birth; it was you who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you. (Psalm 71:6)
Some scriptures say that we are born sinners. I believe that we are born perfect and innocent. Every criminal, drug dealer, hard-core gangbanger started life as a sweet, newborn baby with a clean slate, beautiful and pure and with all the potential of the human race.
In cities and suburbs and rural areas all across the world, "street gangs" are a concern. We're losing our kids, and we feel helpless to do something about it. The thing to remember, though, is that they aren't just "our" kids; they're God's kids. And God weeps at every senseless death, every ruined life, every fractured family.
Locking them up isn't helping. "Three Strikes" isn't helping. Fear surely isn't helping. We have to love them back into the arms of God, and love is a verb. Love is action. Love is something we have to do.
The following information is from Focus Adolescent Services:*
Young people join gangs for a variety of reasons, some of which are the same reasons children join other pro-social groups such as 4-H and Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts."
Some of the reasons for joining a gang may include:
- A search for love, structure, and discipline
- A sense of belonging and commitment
- The need for recognition and power
- Companionship, training, excitement, and activities
- A sense of self-worth and status
- A place of acceptance
- The need for physical safety and protection
- A family tradition
Focus identifies the risk factors for joining a gang as racism, poverty, lack of a social support network, and media influences.
QUESTION: What are you doing about it? What can the church do about it?
*Focus Adolescent Services, Salisbury, MD. http://www.focusas.com/Gangs.html