Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Heaven for a Gangsta

Peace and blessings,

I would like to start off with a quote from Lecrae’s “I did it for you,” which I think is the best song off of his album, “After the music stops”:

“The say Mack got saved/ and (???) is a Christian/Well I don’t really know them/ but I pray they both listenin’/ it’s hard trying to grow up in a sinful land/and you don’t have an example of an godly man/well hold on!/just keep your eyes on Christ/when you’re in or in the world/man our lives are alright/they say heaven gotta ghetto/ but that ain’t true/ and if God has a standard then that ain’t you/ and that ain’t me/ that’s what I learned late one night/till a man named James White/Changed my life/he told me that Christ paid the price for sin/every lie I ever told Christ died for them/See, I never knew that I offended God/I just knew I really wasn’t trying to live for God/And my sins all cost me/yeah pretty costly/I couldn’t blame the hood for death sin brought me/All that I could do was blame myself/ and realize there was no way I could change myself/so I, trusted Christ with my lust for life/and He saved me that’s why I’m trying to touch the mic/Yeah, so if you ask me who I’m spittin’ this to/that’s right yall I did it for you/I did it for you/and if you ask who I’ve written this to/that’s right yall I did it for you/I did it for you”

Lecrae, from “I did it for you” off of his album, “After the music stops.”

While growing up, I was blessed to have both parents around and a good education. Despite these blessings, however, I was exposed to my share of gang violence. I vividly remember when I saw someone shooting at another person in my driveway, only to find out moments later that the person was shot and killed on my front porch. Some years earlier I remember overhearing my pops’ telephone call when he found out that my cousin, who had a scholarship to attend UCLA and was a honor roll student and athlete, was shot and killed over a CD players just days before his high school graduation. Further, I have and currently know plenty of people who are involved in gang life.

Now that I’m older and have tried to learn more about the contexts and experiences which encourage youth to get involved with gang life, I often wonder “what if that was me?” “What if I didn’t grow up with two parents who loved me and encouraged me to be great, and didn’t have a great-aunt to anoint me with olive oil and pray over me often?” I think that asking these type of self-reflective questions is a start to realizing that regardless of the “endowments” or supports we may have grown up with, it is only by the grace of God that we do not have to live a life of crime, violence, and desperation. Does that mean that God is the reason why there are “those” people who are in gangs and who commit violent acts toward each other? I emphatically say no. What it is a result of, though, is the many sins and choices that we have made (via free will) that have created the conditions to where some people feel like joining a gang is their best option for survival or a decent life, given the alternatives. Every choice we make, big or small, has some kind of effect on someone other than ourselves…

Once we get to the point where we realize that we could easily be in the same position as our brothers and sisters who are severely impoverished, involved in drugs, and/or gang life, we must then ask ourselves, “what kept me out of that situation?” Once we realize that the only answer is the grace of God, we must then ask ourselves, “how do we tell those who are in these predicaments that this is not what God intended for them, and that God, through Jesus Christ, will free them from their bondage and change their lives around?” Whenever I think about the power that we as Christians posses to reach those outside of the church walls, I recall an ever-important question that a woman raised during a discussion on whether or not Christians should embrace hip-hop as a ministry tool. She simply asked:”If Jesus was to come back today, where would he spend his time?” This immediately struck a cord with me because one of the first things that came to my mind were the people most likely to not “get down with” the church (although there are some more progressive churches were this is not the case). When I look in the bible at how and where Jesus spent most of his time, it is clear that Jesus was deeply concerned with those who were marginalized and written of as “outcasts.” In Luke 5:32 Jesus states,

“I have not come to arouse and invite and call the righteous, but the erring ones (those not free from sin) to repentance [to change their minds for the better and heartily to amend their ways, with abhorrence of their past sins” (NKJ Amplified)

Someone who has taken this scripture to heart is Bishop George McKinney, who has a
  • ministry in San Diego
  • which focuses on ministering to and improving the lives of gang members, prostitutes, drug dealers, and any other force the enemy tries to enslave our people with. Another thing I like about this ministry is that it doesn’t just focus on the individual (although it comes to choice that must be made by the individual), but also focuses on the context and structural sins that contribute to these outcomes (e.g., poverty, materialism, racism, and so forth).

    What do you think? What do you think are the main causes as to why youth get involved with gang life? What role do you think Christians should play in addressing this issue? Weigh in and speekoint…


    Shanessence said...

    I think that kids are looking for a way to identify with the outside world. They are looking for love and validation, and some are willing to pay the utmost price to get it. Thank God that there are people out there making a difference, such as the pastor you mentioned. Also, I really think that HHH is really helping youth in so many ways that haven't been foregrounded...but that's another story for my dissertation... ;)

    Unknown said...

    Yeah, I totally agree. It's interesting how everything tends to come back to love or in many cases a lack of it. Take the Virgina Tech incident for example. If we consistently show love and care for one another, then I truly believe that these acts of violence towards one another would drastically diminish.