Archive for the ‘Forgiveness’ Category

Check out this story by a former associate of the Mexican Mafia.

http://www.streetgangstyle.com/street_gangs/editorials/tour-life-death-street-lamps-city/

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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/

See the story of Steve Rawlings at:

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

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.

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 Gangster’s Prayer (adapted from Gangstyle)

If you have come to the point where you want to make a change in your life you may feel it’s time say the prayer below. Having said this prayer you are committing yourself to change and to live a life in line with the Bible.

Three things you must do to become a Christian and inherit eternal life.

1. You must recognize that you have sinned and ask God to forgive you. The Bible says, “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

2. You must repent of your sin. To repent means to turn away, to change your direction. The Bible tells us, “Repent and be converted that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”

3. You must believe in and receive Jesus Christ into you heart. The Bible promises, “For as many as received Him, He gave the power to become son of God.” Even as you read this Jesus is standing at the door of your life and asking you to let Him in. Jesus said, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear My voice and open the door I will come in.”

One way to open the door is a simple prayer like this:

“Jesus, come into my heart. I know that I am a sinner, but I thank you for dying on the cross for my sin. I ask you to forgive me and cleanse my sin. Be my personal Lord and Savior. Help me now, from this day forward, to follow you.”

If you prayed that prayer sincerely, Jesus Christ will come into your life and begin to change you from the inside out.

Take a moment to let us know of your decision so we can encourage others. We’re also willing to talk with every one of you that has decided to follow Jesus, as well any of those of you who have questions or need to talk. Would you like someone from our team to contact you?

Here are a couple of useful web sites to help you in your walk:

If you do not have a bible you can go to www.crosswalk.com and access their bible study program. Chap D recommends getting started by reading the book of John and also reading from the book of proverbs. You can also go to the top of this page and look under “Studies”  for  the One 2 Won Crosstraining Studies put online by Men at the Cross. These are basic studies about what it means to follow Jesus.

To find a church near you www.american-churches.com they carry a directory of churches nationwide. Choose carefully, find a Bible believing church that you feel comfortable with and preaches the Word.

A message from a pastor who cares:

Dear friend: Please know that there is a God in heaven that loves you and is offering you a better way. He alone has the power to take the anger away from you. Jesus Christ is the person who came from heaven to make all the wrongs right in this world. It will not happen over night, it will take life times and more. But, Jesus Christ will come through for people like you and me. We may be in different places in life, but Jesus is the one that is able to make the difference and He is with you now. Invite Him into your life and He will come in. Go to a pastor near your home and ask one how you can live, don’t be afraid, He will tell you how to connect up with God and show you that He will protect you. I want you to know that only God can tell the future, no man has the power to do that. Listen my new friend, if you believe that Jesus died on a cross for you and rose up from the dead and you want to follow Him the Bible says that you will be saved.

Life is hard and we go through many things that we don’t understand. Begin to trust Jesus Christ to help you and He will. He is in the business of changing futures.
Pastor Marc P.

Gangster Quotes’

“If I could take it all back, I would. I would have died a hundred times over to let my brothers and sisters live… but i cant. All I can do now is promote an anti-gang message…drop your flag. Start your life over… it’s neva too late.'”

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This is a brief talk by Nicky Cruz who was the leader of the infamous Puerto Rican Mau Mau street gang in New York City. Nicky’s story is portrayed in books such as The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson and in his own book, Run, Baby Run.  It was through reading those two books that my own life changed and because of what happened to Nicky, I went to Chicago to work for Teen Challenge. That’s when I got involved with the Latin kings and all the other sets I got to know at that time. I even had Nicky come to Chicago back in the early 70s where he had an open meeting for north side street gangs in Humboldt Park. Nicky is just one of many examples of how Christ CAN change a life, even in the worst of circumstances.  jesus can do the same thing for you that he did for Nicky. Think about it. See what Nicky has to say about his life in the Mau Mau street gang and what happened to him when he met Jesus.

http://www.streetgangstyle.com/street_gangs/video/gangs-god-nicky-cruz-testimony/

For more on Nicky Cruz Outreach, go to:

http://nickycruz.org/

Live in the here and now. Live for the moment. Don’t think about the end of your life, only the now. Smile now, cry later. Those are things I hear from Gs who don’t want to think about the future. I ask about what it means to break God’s laws and they say, “I don’t want to think about that”. I ask them what comes after death and they say,”I don’t want to think about that” . I ask them what’s gonna happen to their kids if they get killed, and they say, “I don’t want to think about that”. Denial like this is like an ostrich that,  seeing a lion coming and sensing danger, sticks his head in the sand so he doesn’t have to see the approaching lion. When a G says,” I don’t want to think about that”, he’s doing the same thing as he ignores the reality of the coming danger. He’s ignoring all the warnings of God, Jesus, and the Biblical prophets because “he doesn’t want to hear that.”  While they all clearly say that while God is love, God is also just and will judge the unrepentant people who have ignored his call to open their hearts to him. These Gs don’t want to hear that, however, because if that’s correct, they’re in big trouble. Everything they’ve believed, said, and done is contrary to what God says he wants us to be.  For the moment, its easy to ignore what Jesus has to say about life after death, but the time is fast approaching when you will stand before Christ and you will no longer be able to ignore him. For some it will be sooner rather than later.  And when you’re standing there, you won’t be able to say “I don’t want to think about that” any more because “that” will be staring you right in the face. No more denying the truth of God. No more denying what he expects from us. No more hiding your head in the sand. No more alternative philosophies that have lied to you and made you look the other way. No more time, period. It’s judgement day and you’re dead meat. Without the saviour, you’re roadkill.

That’s my message to you, pure and simple. Think about it, just sticking your head in the sand because you “don’t want to hear about that” doesn’t mean its not going to happen. God’s judgement is on the way, whether you want to hear about  it or not.  Without Christ, you will be judged and, quite frankly, it will not go well for you. The good news is, however, that Jesus can and will change your life if you take a moment to listen. All you have to do is think about it a little bit and you’ll understand why you need Christ. With the huge mound of sin, transgression, betrayal, and pain you’ve created, it becomes clear that you can’t be rid of that mountain of trash you created by yourself.  You begin to see that the mound is to big for anyone but Jesus. Once this realization hits you between the eyes, however, seriousness of the situation may disarm you to the point where you think you should wait and try to clean up your life before coming to Christ. Don’t be fooled. He wants you and he wants you just the way you are. If you try to clean up from the outside and gradually work inward towards your heart, you’ll fail. You can’t clean yourself up well enough good to make yourself presentable to God. You can’t do enough good things to make him change his mind about judgement. What you need to do is come to Christ, confess your sins, allow Christ into your life, and let him clean you up from the inside out. You need to trust him to do the dirty work, and that’s what he did when he gave his life for you on the cross. He did the dirty work. All you have to do is accept it. So wat up G? Wat u gonna do?  Here’s what the Bible says to those  “that don’t want to hear that.” In the famous Parable of the Sower we read that:

 4 While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: 5 “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. 6 Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. 8Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”

   When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

 9 His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that,

   “‘though seeing, they may not see;
   though hearing, they may not understand.’[a]

   11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

~Luke 8:4-15

The moral here? Don’t ignore the words of the Bible. Don’t stick your head in the sand because the Bible tells us  that the “devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (I Peter 5:8)” If you refuse to listen to what jesus has to say, you’re like the ostrich with his head in the sand. You will be ignoring the inevitable as that roaring lion pounces on you when you’re least expecting it.

So the next time you’re tempted to say, “I don’t want o hear that,” consider the warning of Jesus when he said,  “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

Here’s a song for you:

Lecrae – Take Me As I Am: http://vodpod.com/watch/448911-lecrae-take-me-as-i-am

Tedashii at Blacktown 2008:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F34oEiUsrog&feature=related

Lecrae at Blacktown 2008:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0y7IKrkQSyA&feature=related

Here is the second part to Big D’s story of how and why this Mexican Mafia leader became a Christian:

http://www.streetgangstyle.com/street_gangs/video/big-dformer-prison-mafia-leaderborn-againpart-2/

How D got saved in prison:

http://www.streetgangstyle.com/street_gangs/video/big-dformer-prison-mafia-leaderborn-againpart-1/

A G asked me the other day about evil. If God is so good, why does he allow evil in this world, and especially in my hood?  Why all the killing and pain? Why do people go hungry and starve? Why do people die in natural disasters? Why does it seem so hopeless that I hide behind closed doors to shut out the evil and groan in despair when I hear of another killing or catastrophic event. My response is simple: You’re asking the wrong question. The proper question is, “Why does God even think about allowing good in such an evil world?”

Understand, my friend, that we live in a fallen world destroyed by sin. We live in a world we have all helped to create through our own propensity to rebel aghainst God.  Evil and pain are the norm in a world controlled by powers and principalities of evil (Ephesians 6). The apostle John, in fact,  characterizes Satan as the “prince of this world.”  So, let’s think about this for a moment. If Satan is the “Prince” of this world, what kind of world do you expect to see? Certainly not one of beauty and goodness.  What results would you expect to see in a principality run by this kind of chief? I’ll tell you, its a world full of pain and suffering that groans for relief. It’s for that reason that Paul also says that the whole earth groans as it waits for salvation to appear (Romans 8:22). That’s Paul’s way of letting us know that creation has been overtaken by evil and agonizes in pain as it waits for God’s final redemption. You hear that groaning in your hood, in my hood, and throughout this city.

Understanding that we live in a world marred by human rebellion and shattered by purposeful sin helps us to understand the overabundance of evil that has appeared in this world. That’s why we have murder, rape, and the horrors of warfare all around us. When we consider a world that’s run by a “prince” who is the embodiment of pride, greed, arrogance, perversion, and hatred, we don’t have to look much further to understand the evil in our world and that should prompt us to ask a very  different question. I would suggest that we ask ourselves this, “If the world is so evil and if it’s ruled by evil powers, and settled by sinful rebellious men, why in all creation would God even consider giving us the slightest respite from the evil we have created through our own missteps? Why would he ever think of giving us a moment of peace?  Why would he ever consider allowing us to experience even the slightest hint of heaven’s beauty? Why would he ever allow us to experience even the slightest amount of good?

That’ question is what underlies all Christian faith and is what provides us with the source of true meaning.  The answer, simply put, is that God has a love for his creation that goes beyond anything that we can begin to understand or imagine. As John wrote many centuries ago:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes on him, will not perish, but have eternal life.”

 Because of that love, God  brought all the beauty and splendor of heaven into this world as a preview of things to come. All that beauty and splendor came in the person of Gsus, his son and the second person in the trinity. Gsus, who was the creator of all things that exist and who embodies all the wonder and beauty of creation came to be violated on the cross to give you an alternative to the pain and suffering of this world. Because Gsus conquered death, God can still bring moments of  forgiveness, peace, harmony, joy, meaning, beauty, and love into a world filled with pride, selfishness, anger, lust and hatred . That’s a gift we don’t deserve. That’s a love we can’t underastand. Unfortunately, in our twisted wisdom, we confuse ourselves by thinking that those moments of goodness are the norm in this life, but they are NOT.  This is a broken world because we all embrace sin and that love of sin leads to further suffering and pain. Its a fact of life, we are hurting people and history tells us that hurting people hurt other people.  All you have to do is look around and the toll of sin becomes all too apparent. Those moments of goodness and beauty we long for are the exceptions to the rule, the moments when God sees fit to infuse glimpses of beauty and goodness into our present world of pain and falleness. He does this so that we may catch a glimpse of what he intended us to enjoy for all eternity, to understand and embrace the hope that was manifested in the person of Gsus. That picture of heaven,  presented through the life, death, and ressurection of Gsus, was given so that we might see what God has in store for those who can look past the evil of this world and are able to grasp the beauty of a life with God that is offered through the undeserved love of God or what we call GRACE.

So, when you see a hood filled with evil that manifests itself in the form of a new killing or rampant drug addicition, don’t wonder why God allowed that to happen, remember that its the norm for a fallen and broken world that we created. Instead of being shocked, be thankful that in the midst of such despair, God has seen fit to perforate this darkness in the hood with patches of good. Cherish those glimpses of goodness, the promise of things to come, the opportunity to see what is real.  Pray as Gsus taught his disciples to pray: “may your  kingdom come, may your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven“.  Pray for more of his goodness to appear in the midst of  this present evil, and pray that you might be the conduit into your hood through which that goodness flows. See where YOU can make a difference. Turn around and be the hands and feet of Gsus in the hood, be that moment of brightness and good for another person as you let Gsus work through you.  That’s how you can make a difference that will last for eternity, one person at a time. Finally, pray that Gsus will return soon and that  God’s kingdom and all its goodness will then manifest itself on earth.

I was at a wedding this past Saturday. The ceremony was held at the Chicago Cultural Center. One of the distinguishing characteristics of the building is the unbelievably beautiful mosaics that have been created all over the building. As I was marvelling at the beauty of those pieces of art, it came to me that each mosaic is made up of hundreds of little broken pieces of stone. In itself, each little piece of stone appears to have little significance and usually has little to distinguish itself from all of the other little pieces of stone. However, when those little pieces are put together by an artist who sees all the shades and textures, who understands all the subtleties of each piece,  he begins to create a pattern simply by moving each broken stone individually into its own special place. By juxtaposing each color and every subtle shade against one another, he produces a patchwork of stones that, on completion, explodes in extraordinary glory. That’s when his artistry takes on meaning and clarity. That’s when simple stonework becomes  a masterpiece.

It’s the same with the gang world. Gangbangers everywhere, each one a broken piece of stone tossed aside in scrap heaps scattered throughout the hood. There is little to distinguish one Gs from any of the other Gs around him. There is little hope for the future and even less hope of creating a positive legacy. But that’s when Gsus, the master artisan, takes over and starts moving through the hood. He scours the scrap heaps and salvages Gs from everywhere. As he does so, he starts moving the Gs around, placing Gangsters next to Stones, Kings next to Disciples, Satan Disciples next to Ambrose, and Vice Lords next to Spanish Lords. In and of themselves, there is little in he way of beauty in those individual pieces of broken humanity, but when Gsus takes over and starts moving his Gs around, he creates a pattern of color and beauty, expertly fitting each piece into place, juxtaposing darker shades against the light, and gently polishing his Gs to give the finished product a luster that could never have been imagined when he started walking through the Hood. Gsus enters into the world of gang life and repositions the broken pieces. The result is to infuse the power of beauty into the despair of tragedy and to bring  joy, hope, meaning, and beauty into world of gang violence. The result is a masterpiece of eternal proportions.

So that’s my speech. Now its your call. If you’re a gangbanger and want to know what’s beautiful; if you want to know the meaning of life; if you want to have significance and fit in; if you want to know the source of true power; and if you want to understand what real love is all about; then turn to Gsus. Gsus is the key, the master of creation. By ourselves, we remain dirty pieces of broken stone without shine or luster. Each of us remains a single isolated piece of meaningless stone without place and lacking purpose; and without purpose we are in danger of ending up as one of the unusable and unworkable pieces that are disposed of in the trash (i.e. hell) or cast along the gravel road to be trodden under the feet of every passing generation. In the hands of the great artist, however, in the hands of the Gsus, we all take on true significance as we are set in the right place, next to the right people, and provided with a purpose. In the hands of Gsus we become a masterpiece, a veritable Gangster Mosaic. That’s what the Church in the Hood is, a mosaic where every gangster who comes to Christ becomes part of the larger creation of God, the Gsus Nation. It’s a place where each G, no matter his or her set, ethnicity, or rank,  has value and significance in God’s larger overall plan, where God’s grace and love give every individual a purpose, a distinct meaning, and creates a work of beauty that people everywhere will marvel at, a place where each G willcome become a legacy to the world. That’s called grace, when God picks up a G from that heap of broken stones and gives him a purposeful place in the eternal picture he is creating. So, look closely. Is that you in the middle of the Gangster Mosaic? If not, call us or a local pastor and ask how to be included in the Gangster Mosaic. Find out how you can become part of the Gsus Nation. You can begin by saying this simple prayer:



God-

I been in the hood ma whole life and done lots of things I wish i hadn’t had to do. Sometimes I see dem in ma dreams and just want them to go away. Even if I don’t see them, I know what I did and it makes me sick. I want to make it right, but I know I can’t make it right myself. I’ve tried and nuthin works. This guys sez, yu’ll forgive me of all that bad stuff – slingin, bangin, and even killin. I believe that Gsus came to earth from heaven and died to pay for my sins. I believe that he rose from the dead and that he has forgiven my sins as no one else can do. I need that forgiveness bad and I ask that all my sins be forgiven. I want to  kno that yur real and willing to help me make a new start. I got baggage so it won’t be easy but I believ that if you will help me, it will happen, just like he sez. So right now, I’m askin yu to come into my heart, and transform my life. Forgive me of evryythin bad i done. I kno i need you, without doubt, but its hard to walk away, so even if I play the G for a little while, guide my steps and watch over me. teach me your ways and open my eyes, help me to grow and walk away from this life, no matta wat. Give me and my family a new start. Reveal yourself to me just like dis guy sez yu will. Make me willing to turn away from this life and serve yu, no matta wat. Thanks God!

In the book of John (1:46), Nathanael, the soon-to-be disciple, is told by Phillip to come and meet Gsus of Nazareth, who he says is the saviour who Moses and the prophets talked about. Nathanael astonishingly asks the question, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?”  This was a rather sarcastic response from someone who apparently had many doubts about Gsus, just because of the place he came from.

In order to understand Nathanael’s statement, you have to know a little about Nazareth. While we fondly think of Nazareth now as the place where Gsus grew up, we have to understand that Nazareth was really a pit, a rather nasty suburb of Jerusalem, the capital. It was the Humboldt Park of Jerusalem, a place with little respect and a place that everyone avoided. To put it another way, back in the day, Nazareth was considered to be the hood. That’s why Nathanael asked in true astonishment, “Can any thing good come from there?” In essence, he was saying, “What good can come from the hood?” Yo, dog, have you ever heard that same sentiment expressed about your hood??

If you look around, there are lots of Nazareths in the Chicago area. These are places most people try to avoid at all costs. You know the places, the ones with gangs, high crime rates, no housing, and bad services!  They’re the places where people don’t prosper and just try to survive. Sometimes people do things they shouldn’t,  just to make ends meet. Maybe you’ve heard someone ask, “Can anything good come from Humboldt Park?”, or “Can anything good come from Austin?”, or “Can anything good come from Woodlawn?”,  or “Can anything good come from Lawndale?”  Well, I’m going to say this right now and up front: if you hear that about your hood, or if you already believe that song and dance, it’s a lie. Never forget, Gsus came from the Nazareth hood and that’s as good as it gets! Jesus changed his hood and, in fact, he changed the world.

So what about Gsus? He had it all going for him, right? Not exactly! Keep in mind that Gsus didn’t come from a palace or a luxury penthouse. Not even a nice neighborhood. If you remember your Christmas story, Gsus was born in a cattle trough with animals in a barn. This was a less than auspicious beginning for the saviour of the world. How about you? If you were born in jail, maybe in the back seat of a car or the back room of a house, or if you were born in some other less than respectable way, maybe without a dad or born to a mom that couldn’t wait to get rid of you, here’s the good news, Gsus brings hope to the hood and he brings beauty to all the dark and lonely places of our lives. In his own words, Gsus said that he didn’t come to save the healthy (well-off and arrogant), but the sick (downtrodden and hopeless). He didn’t come to call the righteous but sinners (Matthew 9:12). And in case you forgot, Gsus didn’t just come a deliver his message to the hood and split. He stayed and took the great violation when he died for the hood with all its sin and tragedy.

So, what’s all this matter to you? Let’s face it, stuff happens in the hood.  Got any bodies?  Got any thefts?  Got any robberies?  felonies? How long is your rap sheet?  A history of slinging drugs?  Are you dirty? Been heavy into ganbanging?  Well, you’re the type of person that Gsus came for! So, whatever hood you come from, remember that Gsus came for you; he came for the G. He came, no questions asked. He’s not asking why you shot that dude. He’s not asking where that drug money went. He’s not asking who all you banged. He’s not asking if you’re going to church or even if you’re a Christian.  He’s walking right down Division street looking for you, right down Austin Avenue calling out for you; right down 67th Street holding out his arms to take you back. All he’s asking is whether you want something better than what you have, something that will give you life and hope, something that you can proudly pass on to your kids. If so, he’s ready to give it up to you with no strings attached.  All you have to do is open the door to your heart and let him in. Remember this, the problem is not whether you live in the hood. The problem is whether the hood lives in you! Gsus is the one that can take the hood out of you, so while you may physically be in the hood (and that includes jail and incarceration), you can get the hood out of you be letting Gsus take its place. He’ll remove the hood from your heart and replace it with the peace of God that goes way beyond anything you can hope, dream, or imagine. That’s a pretty darn good trade. Then, the next time someone asks, “What good can come from da hood,” you can say, “Hey bro, I came from da hood. Me and Gsus together, that’s about as good as it gets!”

If you want to know more, see a local pastor or get in touch with us at Crossfire. In the meantime, you can begin by saying this prayer:

God-

I been in the hood ma whole life and done lots of things I wish i hadn’t had to do. Sometimes I see dem in ma dreams and just want them to go away. Even if I don’t see them, I know what I did and it makes me sick. I want to make it right, but I know I can’t make it right myself. I’ve tried and nuthin works. This guys sez, yu’ll forgive me of all that bad stuff – slingin, bangin, and even killin. I believe that Gsus came to earth from heaven and died to pay for my sins sins. I believe that he rose from the dead and that he has forgiven my sins as no one else can do. I need that forgiveness bad and I ask that all my sins be forgiven. I want to  kno that yur real and willing to help me make a new start. I got baggage so it won’t be easy but I believ that if you will help me, it will happen, just like he sez. So right now, I’m askin yu to come into my heart, and transform my life. Forgive me of evryythin bad i done. I kno i need you, without doubt, but its hard to walk away, so even if I play the G for a little while, guide my steps and watch over me. teach me your ways and open my eyes, help me to grow and walk away from this life, no matta wat. Give me and my family a new start. Reveal yourself to me just like dis guy sez yu will. Make me willing to turn away from this life and serve yu, no matta what. Thanks God!

If you sincerely said that prayer, God has heard and has forgiven you of all your sins. You are starting on a new journey that leads away from sin and takes you closer to God. I’m not sure where that journey will lead you, but this much I’ll guarantee you, it will be an amazing journey. Find a good Bible believing local church (ask us for suggestions if you don’t know of any). Start reading your Bible by reading the book of John. Start praying and make a practice of talking to God everyday. And let me know if I can help.

Ron

ps. Here’s a couple of raps for you to consider:  

Gangstaz Pain by Preachas in the hood: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9hm84LZkts

Take me as I am by Lecrae:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHlxQnr9Y0g

There’s an old gang slogan that says, “blood in, blood out.” It simply means that when you get into a gang, there is a price to pay, and that’s usually by bloodletting, commonly a beating or a so-called violation, sometimes by killing. You get out the same way (or worse). Blood is an important symbol to those involved in the gang lifestyle but, believe it or not, blood is also important to the Christian world view. God understood that the G, once involved in the gang (blood in) would need a way out of his predicament. He understood “blood out” from the beginning of time and provided the G with a final one-time “blood out” violation, and by that I mean the spilled blood of Jesus Christ. The final blood.  It is only by the blood of Jesus, the blood shed on the cross, that we are removed from the curse of our “blood in” deeds.  By His blood we are provided with the opportunity to move beyond the blood of the hood to experience the sort of life that Gs can only dream of.  By our nature and our inclination to sin we have doomed ourselves to an eternal life without God,  but by His blood we are cleansed and made whole. By his blood we are removed from the house of death (hell) and brought to the house of life (heaven). Each of us paved our way into hell through a life of violence and sin –  blood in, but now we are removed from the  penalty of that violence and sin – blood out. The only difference is that it’s not your “blood out”!  That was Jesus doing the “blood out” thing on the cross. He took our “blood out” violation upon himself so that we would be able to accept God’s invitation to join him in heaven. You may have joined the gang by blood, and you may have gotten in the gang by blood, but there is a way out. The one and only way to real freedom is through the shedding of Christ’s blood for you. Blood in, Blood out. Believe it.  Accept it.  Live it.