Archive for the ‘Intervention’ Category

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

Please pray for Chris, Javier, and Robert – guys from Martin’s neighborhood at 82nd and Buffalo.

Please pray for Edgar Fernandez, his brother Freddie and their friend Bernadino. I met Freddie and Bernadino when i was visiting Martin at Cook County Jail. Continue to pray for Martin too.

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/

Some of you may be wondering the same thing, How do I get out of a gang? If you didn’t know who to ask or were to scared to ask, here is an answer that might help. Find it at:

http://www.streetgangstyle.com/street_gangs/street-gang-articles/gang-2/

OK, this is how I want you to think about responding to this post. Think about the world and all the goals you’ve set for yourself. What do you want to be? What do you want to accomplish). Where would you like to be and what would you like to be doing in five years?  Write it down. Do you think that the goals, hopes, and/or dreams you’ve just jotted down are possible?  Want to have a car, home, job, wife, or kids? Do you want to have a chance to get a better education or do some travelling? Want to help some other people who are down and out too?  Well, let me tell you this, God puts those dreams in your head, and if God puts those dreams there, it’s because he wants to fulfil those dreams. Not only that, he is able to fulfill them, and much more. If you are a Christian, you worship a God is bigger than anything you can imagine. He is the God “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…” (Ephesians 3:20). OK, here’s the kicker. Remember all those goals and dreams you just jotted down? Well God wants to do a lot more than you thought about just then.

A few years ago, I met Anthony.  He was a Spanish Lord from Humboldt Park that I had written to while he was incarcerated in Logan Correctional Center.  Those letters led to us getting together to talk after his release. When we first met, Anthony was sleeping on a backroom floor in another Gs apartment. He didn’t have a whole lot to look forward to at that moment in time.  I remember in one of our first talks, I asked him about what he wanted out of  life. He mentioned that he’d like to have an apartment of his own some day, maybe get his driver’s licence and eventually buy a car. That way, he could drive around the hood and help people he saw in need of help. Well, that was a nice vision, but way too small. Anthony eventually committed his life to Jesus and good things began to happen. Anthony now has an apartment he shares with Amanda and his son Vincent. A second child, a little girl, is on the way! Anthony works 50-60 hours a week and not only has a car, but also has use of a company car. He certainly helps old friends from the hood, but has also traveled to Turkey and Nicaragua. In Turkey he helped on an archaeological excavation and in Nicaragua he worked with the poor and destitute.  God has given Anthony way more than he imagined just two years ago as we sat and talked. On top of that, he’s only 22, so can you imagine what God has in store for him the next 60 years of his life? Way more than he or I can begin to image right now. That prospect is very exciting.

Now translate Anthony’s experience into your life. Go ahead, think about it. God wants to do the same thing for you that he did for Anthony. If you think about the dreams you wrote down and think about how God has expanded Anthony’s vision, you might be able to get an idea of what God will do in YOUR life. The message I want to leave you with here is to think big and never underestimate what God can do in your life. He is the creator of the universe and in control of all things. His ability to do more than you can think or imagine is beyond doubt and displayed in the lives of believers all over the world! So sit down, write down, kneel down, and look up. Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God just waiting to expand your horizons and do more in your life than you can ever imagine. Are you game?

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!

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.

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

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

Gangs and At-Risk Kids provides a very informative and useful website for people wanting to know more about gangs, what they are, how kids get involved and the consequences of involvement.  For more on the website go to:

http://gangsandkids.com/

And don’t forget to look at some poignant poetry and stories from those affected by gang life at:

http://gangsandkids.com/gstory.html

Other links can be found at:

http://gangsandkids.com/glinks.html

Here’s a good video on an important aspect of reaching gang members:

http://www.streetgangstyle.com/street_gangs/video/reach-gang-member/