Archive for the ‘Death’ Category

A Wall Around Chicago

A downtrodden city, rife with crime; citizens under duress and vulnerable to gangs of merciless criminals; no protection and victims of all sorts of vice, Chicago, Maybe, but the city I had in mind was Jerusalem around 400 B.C. Here was a town that was in ruins with few prospects for revitalization. Here was a city without hope. Yet, in the ruins of trodden-down Jerusalem we find a blueprint for a Biblical cure to the urban blight and broken-down walls of our own city. Tucked away in thes pages of scripture is an answer to Chicago’s problem with guns, drugs and gangs, the means to engage them and win.

To gain an insight into the underlying origins of this blueprint we have to look into the past and we do that by reading the historical narrative contained in book of Nehemiah. At the beginning of that manuscript Nehemiah, a Jewish cup-bearer to the great Persian king Artaxerxes, hears that Jerusalem, his ancestral city, has become a downtrodden blight on the countryside . Taking the challenge to heart, he sets about to correct that travesty. He prays and fasts for an answer. Finally, he petitions the Persian king for permission to go back to Jerusalem to repair its fallen and decrepit wall.

When Nehemiah returns to Jerusalem and sees the broken down wall for himself, he is grieved, but he doesn’t fall into despair. In order to reinvigorate the city, he has to first repair the walls around the city and establish a defensive perimeter that protects the city from its enemies. He assigns rebuilding efforts along various portions of the wall to different tribes or groups of people. The work is not without problems, however, as there are those who resist Nehemiah’s efforts. The repairers of the walls are forced to work with weapons at their sides in order to repulse hostile efforts to retard the work. Some adversaries, such as Sanballat and Tobiah, were satisfied, even happy, with the broken-down character of Jerusalem because it suited their purposes of domination and control. Civic instability and religious impotence furthered their ends. Their attempts to impede or sabotage work on the walls grew out of the realization that safety and security in Jerusalem would mean an end to their domination.

In spite of the apparently desperate condition of Jerusalem, God had a plan, not to mention a greater purpose for the city. He also had his man, Nehemiah. In retrospect we see how God acted in Jerusalem through Nehemiah, and we begin to understand the grander purpose for Nehemiah’s plan. Not only did it save Jerusalem, but the outworking of his purposes in Jerusalem have come down to us to provide hope and faith that God will similarly act in Chicago (as well as other cities) to abolish the evils underlying our urban nightmare. In the Book of Habakkuk (3:1-2), the prophet asks that God show him today the same miracles he demonstrated to his people in the ancient past. We echo those words as we ask God to act supernaturally in Chicago to end the nightmare of violence and bloodshed that plague our streets. We ask to see the miracles of yesterday played out again in our own day and in our own city. The Book of Nehemiah provides us with a blueprint for ending the violence and bloodshed. Just as in Nehemiah’s day, there are those who would subvert the laws for their own ends and keep us from rebuilding the city into the bastion of health and safety it should be. That being the case, how do we address gangs, drugs, guns, bloodshed, and violence? We take responsibity under God for rebuilding our neighborhoods, just as Nehemiah did, one stone at a time; all God’s people standing arm-in-arm to rebuild the city’s spiritual walls.

The blueprint is simple. Each community rebuilding the walls that protect its own neighborhood. There are thousands of churches in Chicago, each representing a portion of Chicago that needs repair. If each church can rebuild just their section of the wall, Chicago can be rebuilt in the image that God intended for it to take. You start like Nehemiah planned, in your own neighborhood, putting one brick in place at a time, but in this case, it’s one life at a time. God has placed us where we are for a reason and that reason is to bring renewal that will glorify him. We can take comfort in the fact that we are not alone in the fight. As members of the heavenly city we know that if there is an enemy surge in one area, reinforcements from another area can be brought to bear on the attack. Christians make up a huge percentage of the city and must leverage those numbers in the face of drugs, violence, and gang activity. As we do that, we can rest in the assurance that God is with us and empowers our efforts. Nothing is possible without that directive and power. Still, as in the case of Nehemiah, God sent people to do the work. He didn’t create a cyclonic wind to whip up the blocks and set them in place. He used people. The same is true in Chicago. While we have God’s blessing, no his mandate, in this effort, he still calls on Chicagoans to do the work. So hit the streets armed with the weapons of faith and see God in action. People say that this is too tall a task, that it can’t be done, that there are not enough resources, etc. They said the same thing to Nehemiah and even threatened to undo his work, but in the end, and with divine guidance, he finished the project ahead of schedule. Why should the same not be true for Chicago?

How do we show our commitment to this dramatic struggle? While we are committed in our hearts, is there a more visible way of demonstrating that commitment? Let me suggest that we pray for a special site, a place where God has us build an altar of remembrance to this effort. Perhaps the alter of remembrance should take the form of a wall. In Biblical times the men of God set up memorials to remind and instruct those who came later about what God did at the place where the momorial was set up. Again, I ask, why not in Chicago? C ould not Chicago churches join in this effort to rebuild our neighborhoods and commemorate it by joining with every other church in Chicago in laying a brick in a symbolic wall built on the spot God provides, a wall of protection and remembrance. We can build our own memorial wall for those who were victims of the violence, as well as those who stand up to rebuild in spite of naysayers and threats. We can build our Jerusalem wall as a tribute to the peace that is inherent in the name of Jerusalem, the “city of peace.”

I’d like to invite all those who would be part of this effort to join me in prayer and fasting for a place to build such a memorial, and in the meantime, to let those on this website know that you are committed to making this happen, committed to rebuilding the portion of Chicago that God has placed under your supervision. You are where you are because God placed you and your church there. May each of us begin to rebuild along the section of wall in front of us. So, whether your section of the wall is great or small, may God help you to be responsible for completing that portion of the wall, one brick at a time, one life at a time, one soul at a time, but knowing your efforts are part of the larger effort of building a spiritual wall in Chicago for all eternity.

As I come near the end of this blog entry, let me suggest that we go back and read the third chapter of Nehemiah. Think of the city as Chicago instead of Jerusalem. Place the name of your church or congregation in the space occupied by a group that rebuilt Jerusalem. By way of illustration let me place a few churches I am familiar in some of those slots. Willow Creek Chicago, for instance, would be one group rebuilding the wall of faith along the lakefront. Moody Church is an example of a group rebuilding on the near north side. New Life Covenant Church and Lawndale Community church can be seen rebuilding walls on the west side while Bryn Mawr Community Church and Salem Baptist church would be notable builders on the South Side. Go ahead, insert the name of your church in one of those spaces. There are hundreds of churches in Chicago and we must leverage those numbers to rebuild the spiritual wall around this city. Again, God didn’t send a mighty wind to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, he used his own people to do that. Similarly, I believe he wants to use his people in Chicago to rebuild this spiritual wall as a testament to the power of the gospel for transforming even the most difficult of urban centers. Can we stand together in this? Will your congregation be one of the groups rebuilding Chicago? Will you lay a brick representing your church in our own Jerusalem wall memorial? Let me know.

In closing let me share the following thought which captures the essence of our challenge:

“Some people say, “God will never ask me to do something I can’t do. I have come to the place in my life that, if the assignment I sense God is giving me is something that I know I can handle, than it probably is NOT from God. The kind of assignments God gives in the Bible are always God-sized. They are always beyond what people can do, because he wants to demonstrate his nature, his strength, his provision, and his kindness to his people and to a watching world. This is the only way the world will come to know him.”

I would suggest to you that this is one of those “God-sized” projects. Are you on board?

Ron

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Two posts ago I put up an article about gang families and the generational tendencies of gang life in Chicago. I’m now posting a story about violent death being generational in Chicago too. This story hits close to home because the victim, Patrick Sykes, is the grandson of a friend thaqt lives on the South Side. My friend, Herb, not only lost this grandson, but this son,  the Patrick’s father, to gun violence.

Here is the story:

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/31/patrick-sykes-shot-in-chi_n_3366852.html

http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2013/05/31/teen-who-moved-to-california-to-escape-violence-slain-on-south-side/

http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/local&id=9121821

 

Video:

http://www.suntimes.com/news/20440587-418/teen-who-moved-to-calif-to-escape-violence-shot-to-death-on-south-side.html

http://www.chicagotribune.com/videogallery/76125014/Slain-15-year-old-victim-of-random-violence

 

Memorial Fund:

http://www.gofundme.com/patricksykes

 

 

An archive of photos and stories about gang violence in Chicago can be found at:

http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=chicago+gang+violence&id=0529110FAA4A12D6DF0B7028DFA857E2ADFA69FB&FORM=IQFRBA

“My neighbors of Chicago, what have thou done? You brought in the darkness, removed the sun. It’s now obvious the time has come when killing one another will no longer be tolerated by anyone.” Mary Young, grandmother of 6 mo old Jonylah Watkins, who was shot and killed last week.

I’m looking for some old school Latin Saints who knew Joseph Rodriguez. If you knew him and/or know about his death, could you get in touch with me. Joe was a friend and a kid I was working with back in the day. I’d just like to know more about what happened to him.

 

Ron

This from LILCASHMONEY

REALITY AINT ALWAYZ WUT U SEEIN N PERCIEVIN,
DATZ DA REASON I QUIT BANGIN N SLANGIN D’Z, N STARTED FOLLOWIN JESUS,
I HAD PPL N $$$ LIKE U, BUT EVERY SECOND MORE KEPT CHANGIN N LEAVIN,
JUZ LIKE DA SEASONZ,
IF U DONT FOLLOW N PUT GOD 1ST, U’LL B DECEIVED QUICK,
NE OTHER PATH IZ MISLEADING N IMPOSSIBLE 2 SUCCEED IN,
DERZ A REASON A NIGGA WHO NEVER READ, HAS A BIBLE N KEEPZ ON READIN,
N DATZ DA TRUTH, IF U DONT BELIEVE ME, READ IT N U’LL BELIEVE IT,

I WENT FROM BEIN A LOST DEMON WHO WUZ HUNGRY 4 $$$ N FIEININ, 2 LEADIN N PREACHIN,
N LEAVIN NIGGAZ SPEACHLESS WHEN IM FINISHED SPEAKIN,
DATZ Y U SHUD TAKE NOTEZ WHEN IM TEACHIN,
IM DA STRONGEST, GOD IZ DA ONLY 1 IM LEANIN ON N NEEDIN,
U GOT YA GANG, FRIENDZ, FAM, U DA WEAKEST,
I GOT MY WISDOM FROM EXPERIENCE, NO1 CAN TEACH IT,
U MITE NOT NEED ME, BUT U MOS DEF NEED IT,
IM HUMBLE, NOT COCKY OR CONCEIDED,
OPEN UP YA EYEZ 2 DA TRUTH, N STOP SLEEPIN, N SEEK JESUS,
IF U CAN DREAM IT, OR C IT, U CAN B IT,
U JUZ GUTTA STAY FOCUSED N KEEP REACHIN,
IF U PUT GOD 1ST, HE GONE MAKE SURE U KEEP EATIN,
SO STOP SINNIN, BEIN BROKE IZ A TEST OF YA FAITH, CUZ HE NEVER STOP FEEDIN,
WITHOUT GOD I WUZ LIKE U, INTERNALLY BLEEDIN N NOT WANTIN 2 KEEP BREATHIN,
SHOULD I KEEP PROCEEDIN? OR HAS DA SPACE EXCEEDED?
I KNO I GOT A LOT MORE ISH 2 SAY WITH MEANING….

I KNO U ALIVE, N THINK U KNO HOW 2 SURVIVE N LIVE LIFE,
BUT U FEEDIN YA SELF LIEZ, INSIDE U FEEL LIKE U WANNA DIE,
DONT GET WEAK N CRY, INSTEAD FOLLOW GOD N RISE,
DA TRUTH IZ U BARELY GETTIN BY, N ALL DATZ GETTIN U BY IZ WHEN U GETTIN HIGH N COMMITTIN CRIME,
PUT DOWN DA BANGER N KNIFE, N DA DRUGZ N DA PIPE,
N SEEK A NEW LIFE N NEW LIGHT KALLD JESUS CHRIST,
HIS LIGHT WILL SHINE BRIGHTER DEN NE LIGHT, NE TIME, DAY OR NITE,
HE NEVER GONE LEAVE U OR LIE, N HE ALWAYZ GONE B BY YA SIDE
4 LIFE,
TAKE ADVICE FROM A NIGGA WHO FAILED MANY TIMEZ, BUT NOW IZ WISE,
EVERY1 U DEPEND ON N TRUST WILL DISAPPEAR N IZ IN DISGUISE,
IF U THINK IM LIEN, WHEN IT HAPPENZ, DONT B SURPRISED,
ALL IM ASKIN U 2 DO IZ GIVE GOD A TRY,
DONT WAIT TIL EVERY1 U KNO IZ LOCKD UP OR IN DA SKY,
Y LEARN FROM YA OWN MISTAKEZ WHEN U CAN LEARN FROM MINE?…REAL TALK!!!!

I was in heading down Buffalo Avenue at 83rd street this afternoon when I received a bit of a jolt. I was taking some kids home from church and as I was driving down the street I noticed a child lying on the sidewalk. I wondered if something was wrong so I slowed down to see if I could help. Then I noticed that there was a second child kneeling next to the first one. In his hands was a piece of chalk and he was drawing the outlined profile of the first child, an outline that depicted the alignment of a body at a death scene. This is gang territory, Latin Kings to be precise. And while I know the neighborhood has faced its challenges, I was shocked and saddened to see the casualness with which death was viewed by these two young children. It’s a shame that death can be taken so lightly, when it’s made to be child’s play. Please pray for this neighborhood, for the people, the children, and the gang members. God never intended child’s play to be displayed in the chalked outline of a death scene. God has better things planned for Buffalo Avenue.

This is a great website for those who want to know more about the gang lifestyle and how to resist it as an individual and as a community. The site is based in the Washington DC/Virginia area but has links that are valuable to those confronted by the gang culture nationwide. For more information go to :

http://hidtagangs.org/

This site will also allow you to get a free download of Henry Pachero’s book  Gangs 101: Understanding the Culture of Youth Violence. Here is the link:

http://hidtagangs.org/Downloads/Prevention/Gangs%20101%20-%20Understanding%20the%20Culture%20of%20Youth%20Violence.pdf

Here are two articles about last night’s Urban Dolorosa memorial service for those slain in Chicago since 2008. The include comments from Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/rahm-emanuel-michael-pfleger-urban-dolorosa-133044968.html

http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2011/11/01/urban-dolorosa-march-honors-murder-victims/

I attended the first Urban Dolorosa (the sorrowing city) memorial service last night at St. Sabina and it was very moving.  I attended the event in order to (1) support Chicago families that have lost children to this senseless violence, (2) to call out the people with guns and say, “stop the killing,” and (3) to ask God’s forgiveness for not doing more to stop this epidemic of death.  With this in mind, I’d like to pose the following question to you, “What are you doing to stop the madness?”  Your answer might start here. There are four more services this week. I highly recommend attendance and participation in this effort to curb or stop youth violence in Chicago. For more information on how to get involved, go to the Urban Dolorosa website at:

http://www.urbandolorosa.org/

 Make a difference.  Get involved.  Stop the violence.

Ron

This is a very cool story about how one female G literally saw the light when she tried to commit suicide. It’s yet another example of how God still intervenes in the lives of people today. This young woman is now in school preparing for the rest of her life and working to help other Gs get out of the gang life and find a more meaningful life. Read it. I think you’ll be amazed! And don’t forget, God has a dream for you too! Ask Him about it.

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

Another story about hard times on the streets: Go to :

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

Read more about the potential dangers and certain sadness of family life when you’re affiliated:

http://www.streetgangstyle.com/street_gangs/street-gang-articles/life-gang-related-story/

Waddup my names G im from queens in new York city. I peeped ya website nd I could relate to a bunch of shit on there. I been gangbangin since I was 14 years old…I’m 21 now.

My situations a Lil complicated tho. I joined la familia nation when I was 14 nd I banged everyday basically, mostly on Latin kings…..in my hood they brainwash you into thinkin they ya enemy nd I fell for it. I was willing to do anything for my gang. Then one day the big homie sent out a T.O.S (terminate on site) on me over some byullshit gang politics. You would think at this point I walked away from gang life, I walked away from one gang and joined another one, a big no no in my hood. So since about 2 years ago and ive had a price on my head ever since…me nd my moms had to move out our big apartment to some bullshit basement just to stay alive. Everytime I walk out my front door I gotta look over my shoulder nd pray I don’t catch a bullet. I got stabbed up pretty bad like 4 months ago by some Latin king niggas out in Brooklyn. I was laid up in the ICU for 2 weeks wit a whole bunch of tubes in me. That made me take a good look at what my life has become nd after I got out the hospital I decided to walk away from all this bullshit.

I don’t chill wit any of my boys no more they all brainwashed by the gang. I basically chill wit my family most of the time. I been goin to church alot too. This is the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life, but ima try my hardest to walk away from that gang life. I know my beef and all my enemies won’t just disappear but I think my faith in god gonna keep me alive nd breathing. Thanks for listenin

Find this story and more at:

http://www.streetgangstyle.com/street_gangs/gang-testimonies/change/

 

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Gangs: This is not a way of life

I came from a very close knit family.I am an only child,so it was always just me, my mom and my dad.My father was an alcoholic or another term a functioning drunk.I grew up in a neighborhood that was low class and was known as gang territory.My grandparents were Pachuco’s, so I grew up knowing about the life.My father was mexican and my mother is white.

In school I gained alot of popularity because I had blond hair and blue eyes,but I’m Latin and speak spanish.I started “just hanging” around gang members when I was 8 years old.I quickly started feeling like a little family,which I was not feeling at home,so that felt real good.By the age of 10 I went to my first party with gang members.I liked how much fun I was having hanging out with my new “family” and in the mean while telling my parents I was with friends from school.

At the age of 11 I got jumped into the gang.I was jumped for 2 minutes by four 16 year old guys from my gang.At the age of 11,I took one hell of a beating.I told my mom that I got in a fight at school.So now I was in the gang.”What does that really mean?” I thought that night.All fun and parties all the time?Feeling accepted and wanted all the time?People not hurting me anymore because I now have new respect?

Boy was I WRONG!At the age of 12 I did my first drive by.Here I am as scared as can be in a car full of gang members (like me)going to do a drive by.That same year I had 5 homeboys die.Thats when my grades in school started going down.My mom would ask what was going on with me.I kept explaining nothing.I was an undercover gang member to my parents.I blinded them with this good girlie act.My mom would say that I was dressing and looking like a “chola.”I kept reassuring her that I was just dressing like one,cause I like the style.My parents didn’t want to admit that there little girl could be in a gang.

When I was 14 years old I was stabbed in the leg by a rival gang.So I thought thats all right because I “took one” for my neighborhood…(yeah right!)I used to kick back in my neighborhood drinking 40′s of beer and smoking weed.Thought that was the life.All my friends were getting pregnant and having kids at 11,12,13 etc…By the time I was 18 years old I had 7 miscarriages.I can’t tell you how many time I heard the words “Oh baby I love you,Its me and you forever.” I swear I thought every guy I was with was the one and it was going to last forever.I learned real quick Guys will tell you ANYTHING to get what they want.I had my closest homegirls sleep with my man behind my back.(Good friends huh?)

By the time I was 18 I had lost 46 friends to gang violence.Thats one hell of alot of funerals to go to and alot of innocent families to look into there eyes and say sorry,when down deep inside they are cussing you out because they feel that you are just some gang member that helped him get in that casket.As the the casket is lowered in the ground all your homies are talking about revenge.When I was 19 I was cruising with my homies.There was six of us in the car.Four guys and two girls.I was sitting in the front in between two guys.We were at a stop light.A rival gang drove up on us and shot at us.The guy that was driving was hit in the head and the bullet came out the other side of his head and ricocheted of my head.His brains were splattered all over me.Knowing that one of my closest friends had just died and I had his brains on me I was rushed to the hospital.Thank GOD I was alright.That was another funeral and another loss.

After that I was shot at about a dozen times more.Then when I was 20 I was arrested for homicide.I had no idea what the police were talking about.I sat in a cell thinking after all these years of doing bad that I was getting busted for something I really had no idea about.By the Grace of God,they found out that they had the wrong person.I was never so scared in my life.I thought being stabbed and shot that was bad.I even thought having all these tatoo’s all over my body was bad or the fact that I could have died,but going to jail for something I didn’t do for the rest of my life.So I prayed and prayed.The Lord heard my prayers.After that I thought I owe this to God that I am alive.I owe it to myself and my loved ones to stay alive.

At 21 I decided that I had enough.So one night I was kicking back in my neighborhood.There was about 50 of us that night.I told them I wanted out.I said if you want to jump me out then thats fine,but I want out.I went and talk to one of the Veteranos (older homeboys).They said “You did yours for the neighborhood and you can just walk out with respect because we have repsect for you.”As I was getting ready to leave and saying bye to everyone,knowing that I was still going to see everyone here and there just not kick it anymore.The police rolled up and I thought “I guess one last time.”So there I was on the floor, on my knees, hands behind my head and an officer behind me with a 12 gauge shot gun to the back of my head.After checking everything out they were letting us all go.

These cops who ran the gang unit knew be by name.That night I told them that I was out of the scene.They congratulated and even gave me hugs.Then asked if I needed a ride home.That was the first time I was in a police car without hand cuffs on.My father died that year.I have since became close with my mother and told her all about my undercover life that her and my father only feared but didn’t know about.I think of all the sleepless nights I kept my mother awake wondering if I was dead or alive.I think of all the years I probably took off my mothers life stressing over me.I think HOW could I have done this to her.My mother,my real family.

I saw alot of friends die for my neighborhood,but what does a neighborhood do for you?

You claim a street or hood that you will NEVER own.You pay rent for a neighborhood that will NEVER be yours.I think now about all the funerals where everyone said they would die for there homie,but you know I never seen anyone jump on the casket and go in the ditch with them.When you take a life or have one taken from you,it affects more then just you.There are people that love and will miss and grieve too.Its affects EVERYONE around you.What people don’t understand is that once a life is gone…thats it! NO second chance! Life is only one time.

If you are a gang member PLEASE take it from me there is a REAL life out there.You just have to be strong enough to take a chance and walk away before it is too late.Life is too short anyways…then to let be even shortened by doing time in prison or being dead.If you live a real Gangsters life that is the only two ways out, prison or death.There are so many other things out there in life for you.

If you don’t care enough about yourselves to get out STOP being SELFISH and think about all the loved ones you will leave behind.How will they handle life without a husband, wife, brother, sister, daughter, son, mother, father. Pictures, memories and a cemetary is all they will have left. PLEASE think about it!!!

You can find this article and more at:

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