Archive for May, 2011

“So you wanna be a hardcore gang banger…ok let me tell you bout this ive been a 5 year gangster startin at the age of 13 and let me tell you i hate it. i hate it with a passion more than them damn fuckaz who killed my baby brotha.. gangstaz cant live long only the lucky ones survive the ones who know the ways of the streets but if you aint got the skills you gonna get killed trust me this life ain’t all up to that glory you gotta get hurt, emotionally and physically to be a G to be respected shit if that’s the only way to get respect fuck respect sure i got mine thats from 5 years of pain that i cant even describe life aint eva gonna be the same for me shit if you dont believe me go head join a gang see how much “FUN” it is this shit aint fun get back to reality whats this rep gonna do for u if u dead?… Snoopy

This note and more can be found at:

http://www.streetgangstyle.com/street_gangs/street-gang-articles/joining-gang/

 

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“WUSSUP,THIS IS TEARDR0PzZ.AND I W0ULD LIKE 2 SAY A LIL SUMTHIN B0UT ALL THIS GANG STUFF,AIIGHT 2 ALL THE Y0UNGSTERS WH0 READ THIS,D0NT GET INT0 A GANG T0 THINK THAT Y0U WILL FIT IN 0R ITS C00L 0R WUTEVER.LIVEIN THE LIFE I LIVE N SHIT IM N0T G0ING T0 LIE T0 Y0U GUYS ARIIGHT IMMA KEEP IT REAL!ITzZ ALL CRAzZY AND FUN!BUT!!ITzZ DANGER0US AND I W0ULD NEVER REC0MEND S0ME0NE T0 GET INT0 THE GANG LIFE.I SIT N THINK S0METIMES LIKE “WTF AM I D0ING!”.Y0U WILL L0zZE L0VED 0NEzZ..TRUST ME….I’V BEEN THERE AND IT AINT C00!I THINK ALL THE Y0UNGSTERS SH0ULD GET THEIR EDUCATI0N AND D0 G00D..BECAUSE 0NCE Y0U ARE KN0WN AS A GANG GANGER THERE AINT N0 RURNING BACK!Y0U WILL ALWAYzZ BE KN0WN AS A GNG BANGER AND I D0NT THINK ENY 0F Y0U WANT THAT..ITS T00 LATE F0R ME 2 TURN BACK N THERES DAYzZ I STRAIGHT UP REGRET EVERYTHING….S0 JUST STAY AWAY FR0M THE GANG LIFE AND JUST GET AN EDUCATI0N N D0 WUT U G0TTA D0!”

This very poignant note about living the gang lifestyle (and a whole lot more) can be found at:

http://www.streetgangstyle.com/street_gangs/street-gang-articles/gangster-quotes/

See the story of Steve Rawlings at:

http://www.streetgangstyle.com/street_gangs/gang-testimonies/crack-dealer-gang-leader-pt3-2/

When I was a kid we learned this little poem in Sunday School that was accented by hand movements.  One’s hands would be locked together with the interlocked fingers facing the speaker and the two index fingers pushed together pointing skyward like a church steeple. The poem goes:

Here’s the church,

this is the steeple;

open the doors

and see all the people!

As we said the last verse we would fling open our hands and wiggle all the fingers, a representation of all the lively people in the church. Cute, but i’m not sure just how lively the church is these days.

I just came home from driving through the South Side of Chicago this evening.  It was only 8:30 and the streets were filled with Gs, everywhere.  A perfectly refreshing night to be out and about. The sights, however, were not so perfect. The police were rousting out a big group of Gs  (maybe Blue Fin Black Disciples, but I couldn’t be sure) gathered at the southeastern corner of Washington Park. A little further on there was a fist fight going on between two 9-10 year old kids with 30 people egging them on. There were prostitutes on one corner and guys slinging drugs on the other. Oh, and there were lots of people who appeared to have already had too much to drink. Everywhere I looked there were people who were headed into eternity without Christ. I tried to do my thing but it was so little and so weak in contrast to the forces gathering out in the streets for the summer. It all seemed a little surreal and I wasn’t quite sure why I was feeling so sad.  Then, I passed a group of guys gathered in front of a church and it struck me.  Where’s all the people, the church people, that is!!!

I started looking past the gathering crowds and what I saw astounded me. Every block had a church building or two safely ensconced on the block, but they were all closed and not a light to be seen.  How ironic, I thought, that if Christians are the light of the world and the local church is the hope of the world, that each church was dark as the night, and whatever hope the building might claim to possess on Sunday was locked away for the night, just when those in the hood needed it most. How sad it seemed that in nearly every case, there were groups of men and women gathering in front of those churches who were without Christ and without hope. I guess they knew that after the Sunday services,  the church took Monday off. maybe the rest of the week too. Sin could sit at the doorstep of the church without even being challenged.

What struck me was that Christians are supposed to be the hands and feet of Jesus, but they were nowhere to be seen. What I saw, however, were the hands and feet of another, a more sinister and demanding master who was sending his cohorts out to enlist even more people to his cause. And everywhere, he was unchallenged! How can that be with Christians inhabiting every one of those blocks. How can it be with buildings everywhere that are dedicated to taking the Gospel (i.e. Good News) to the lost? I’m not trying to be overly critical and I am speaking to myself just as much as I am to all of you, but its time to open the doors of those buildings and start a procession of people going both in and out. There should be people going in who have questions about God and problems He can solve. There should be people going out to proclaim that there is a place where Gs can go to find real life and that there is a person who can give them  a living water that will refresh them and give them hope for the future. That living water will not dry up nor will it run out. If tonight seemed like a perfectly refreshing night, think what it will be like for that G who finds God because someone brought him that living water.

Let me close by saying that the pastors of my church have begun a series of messages where the theme is to “Go Outside,” sort of like the old Nike theme, “Just Do It.” That’s what we all need to do. Go outside, each day of the week, all summer long, and address those kids sitting on your steps with love, hope, and the gospel of  Jesus Christ. What if every church in every Chicago neighborhood found a way to turn the lights of their churches on at night and have people sitting on the steps of their church with a smile, a handshake, and maybe some fresh apple pie. What if every church in every neighborhood took up the challenge to Go Outside for these kids each day of  the summer. One need not go farther than the block your church was built on. In doing that, you’ll probably cross paths with Christians on the next block doing the same thing as you are. Link arms, love each other and pray for the kids you’ve both gone outside to help. Then let the Holy Spirit do his thing and watch what God does this summer. Just “Go Outside” and watch God work. Who knows what stories that will spawned, what ministries will be born, and what lives will be changed…forever. Well, God knows, so when it happens, write to us here at Crossfire. Let us know the miracles you see so that God’s work in one neighborhood will inspire His people in another neighborhood. Just “Go outside.” God will do the rest. Then, maybe some of you will write back something like:

We opened the church.

We turned on the light.

We went outside 

and God lit up the night.

You’ll probably do better with the verse, so don’t hesitate to outdo me on that! In the meantime,

JUST GO OUTSIDE!

For those interested in the history of gang life in Chicago, this UIC organization provides a first stop for information and reflection.

http://www.uic.edu/orgs/kbc/ganghistory/ghleaflet.html

There is this kid I’ve become friends with up in Rodgers Park. His name is Nicholas. He’s 16 and already been involved in the gang life for several years. Each day he seems to be getting deeper into the street life, just a step away from real trouble. Last Saturday I went up there to find him, so I had the opportunity to drive up and down Devon Avenue several times while looking for Nick. I was struck by the multitudes of people from different religious and ethnic backgrounds and became almost  despondent thinking about all those people going into eternity without Christ. The need was so overwhelming that my paltry efforts on behalf of this single young man seemed inconsequential, bordering on absurd, when balanced against this unsaved mass of humanity. Then, in the midst of that near-depression, God spoke to me saying, “Leave them to me. I’ve put one person on your plate right now, so deal with what I’ve asked YOU to deal with. You have one task right now, Nicholas. I’ve given you responsibility for Nicholas’ life so don’t worry about what I haven’t asked you to do. Be responsible for the one  person I’ve asked you to love.”

I’ve been mulling over that conversation with the LORD all week. Then, this morning, I attended the monthly Willow Creek Prison and Incarceration Ministry meeting where the Holy Spirit affirmed the LORD’s word to me when Anne Rand read a devotional about one, one, one… by Mother Teresa. In it the words of Mother Teresa came through loud and clear:

“I never look at the masses as my responsibility. I look only at the individual. I can love only one person at a time. I can feed only one person at a time. Just one, one, one.  As Jesus said “Whatever you do for the least of my brethern, you do it to me.” So you begin…I begin. I picked up one person…The whole work is only a drop in the ocean. But if we don’t put the drops in, the ocean would be one drop less. Same thing for you. Same thing in your family. Same thing in the church where you go. Just begin One. One. One.

At the end of our lives we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, or how many great things we have done. We will be judged by “I was hungry and you gave me to eat. I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless and you took me in (Matthew 25:34-36, 40). Hungry not only for bread but for love…naked not only for clothing but naked of human dignity and respect. Homeless not only for want of bricks, but homeless because of rejection.”

                                                                                                     Mother Teresa (1910-1997)

Please help me to be faithful to my calling of one by praying with me for Nicholas.

Prayer: LORD, I am often overwhelmed by the needs of the world around me, by the immense size of the need. Thank you that you are responsible for the world and that I am not. Help me see the individual today – the one, the one, the one – that the words and actions that flow from my life reflect your love. In Jesus name, amen.

An interesting article that was sent to me in response to one of my own  posts. I think you’ll find this article to be an interesting twist on gang intervention from the Third Side. Find the article at:

http://creatingreciprocity.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/from-bystanders-to-third-siders/

The Third Side Web page can be found at:

http://www.thirdside.org/

Fresh from the release of a new album, Lecrae sits down for a heartfelt interview. See what this well-known rap artist has to say about self, love, and God at:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/music/interviews/2011/rapperrehab-march15.html

A new movie is coming out in the near future about the intertwined lives of Nicky Cruz and David Wilkerson. The movie is called Thousand Pieces and is based on the book  Run, Baby, Run, the official biography of Nicky Cruz.  Information on the movie can be found at the following two websites:

http://www.runbabyrunmovie.com/main.php

http://thousandpiecesmovie.com/

There is an earlier “sanitized” film called The Cross and the Switchblade based on the book of the same name by David Wilkerson. The film is actually inspiring and worth a screening.  It’s a 70’s film that stars Pat Boone as David Wilkerson and Erik Estrada as Nicky Cruz , so it’s more on the “cute” side and not as” gritty” or realistic as a current movie on the same topic might be. Nonetheless, the film is worth watching to get a visual presentation of the story. See it at:

http://www.ovguide.com/movies_tv/the_cross_and_the_switchblade.htm

David Wilkerson impacted the life of Nicky Cruz and the gangs of New York, but he did much more, all because he was obedient to God’s whisper. If you want to change the world for the better, you might want to read this story about David Wilkerson’s journey of faith:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/aprilweb-only/rememberingdavidwilkerson.html

See what Nicky Cruz has to say about David Wilkerson, the man who led him out of the Mau Mau street gang in NYC.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/aprilweb-only/nickycruz.html

Gang Outreach Education Strategies and Training.

Joseph “Pepe” Montenegro
M.S., Founder

Pepe came from a life of adolescent drug use, gang membership and eventually dropped out of high school. When a terrible turn of events took place he entered a drug rehabilitation program and after 9 months graduated from the program. While in the program he heard the message of hope in Jesus Christ. Upon accepting Christ, he left the gang and drug lifestyle and dropped back in to high school. He graduated from high school and went on to earn his Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology from Vanguard University of Southern California. He is an at-risk youth counselor, parent educator and mentor program coordinator for the Newport-Mesa Unified School District as well as a volunteer for both the Orange County Juvenile Hall and the California Youth Authority in Chino. Find more at:

http://www.goest.org/Home.html

An interesting site where prisoners answer questions posed by individuals both in and out of gangs. Read the questions and answers at:

http://gangsandkids.com/gquestion.html

Website by Lisa Taylor-Austin who is a gang expert witness, psychotherapist and trainer on the topic of street gangs. Find out more at:

http://www.gangcolors.com/?page_id=3

The Coroner’s Report is a very good website that aims to provide information and resources on gang intervention and prevention. More information can be found at:

http://www.gangwar.com/

If you’re a parent you might want to read his Parent Resource Guide:

http://www.gangwar.com/parent1.htm