Monday, July 20, 2009


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.


  1. Good post - may I borrow some of it for my sermon Sunday titled "Love is an action word"? It's on the good Samaritan (off-lectionary in a sermon series on creation care as justice).

    The music was a surprise. I know you said you had music but somehow I wasn't expecting hip hop. :-)

  2. RE: Music

    I didn't get hip-hop, instead it was country!

    Mary Jo, you ask all the right questions. How I wish we had some answers. I'm afraid I'm cynical in this area. I've become jaded.

    The biggest question is How do we love them back into the arms of God. It sounds good. I believe it. But I have yet to be successful--to my knowledge.

    If you find answers, please let me know.

  3. I may still use it in Sunday's sermon but the more I read it the more I wanted to make sure lots of people saw it. So I've put the whole article in our newsletter using the permission you so graciously extended earlier. :-)

    See you in Indy!