Reflections on Gang Violence in Our Neighborhood

Last Monday I attended my first funeral in our neighborhood; a 27 year old victim of gang violence. As I listened to the Latino pastor speak words of hope to the family, as I listened to the members of that evangelical congregation consoling the young man's mother, as I caught an uncomfortable glimpse of the lifeless shell of a person left in the casket, I shuddered to think that one day I might be called upon to perform a ceremony in such a painful situation for one of the members of the Mission Adelante community. Lord may it never be!

This kind of situation is not a frequent occurence in our area, but any frequency is too often to accept. And, this time it hit too close to home. The victim's family is very close with a Mission Adelante family whom I accompanied to the funeral.

Gang "tags" or graffiti have been on the rise in our area over the last several months; a sign that the activity is increasing. When the former principle of ME Pearson elementary school came to speak to our staff, he shocked us when he said that recruiting to junior gangs begins as early as third grade and that serious pressure begins in fifth grade as middle school gang members return to their old grade schools to recruit kids they knew the year before.

We're in a battle for the hearts and souls of these kiddos, and it's a high stakes endeavor. I am more aware than ever that we must reach these kids when they're still reachable, before they go to middle school. The volunteers who've been serving in our Kids Adelante and Leaders-in-training ministries are on the front lines of this battle, ministering to kids while they're still "kids". Their efforts are made in the safe context of an established program with kids who will soon be facing the wolves. God, please use us in the lives of these young ones. Draw and call them to yourself now before they are drawn away by violent forces. Protect their hearts and keep them in you for eternity!

In other news:
  • One L.I.T. student that doesn't have a home computer will be chosen to receive a computer that was recently donated to the Mission. It will be a valuable tool for that student while completing homework.
  • The women of our faith community are looking forward a Christmas Tea this Saturday afternoon. While the women enjoy fellowship with one another, the men will be caring for the children!
  • More than half of the 12 L.I.T. students have earned the privilege of a pizza and movie party at Megan McDermott's house this Saturday. The party is a reward for diligently using an agenda to keep track of school assignments during the semester.
Prayer needs:
  • Please continue to pray for strength for the pregnant mother in our community that we described last week. She continues to cope with financial difficulty, the imprisonment of a brother and the serious illness of a sister, and her husband has now become absent from their home as well. Please pray that she will truly receive the Holy Spirit's comfort.
  • Pray for Juan, whom we've known for several years, and who seems to be getting closer and closer to entering into a relationship with Christ.
  • Pray for an ESL student that will soon return to Mexico to complete the required paperwork with the U.S. Consulate there for American residency. Pray for safety while she's away and that the process will be completed as quickly as possible.
Current needs:
  • Diapers, all sizes and any size package, for distribution through our Resource Center.
Upcoming dates:
  • Thursday, December 10: Last day of ESL and Kids Adelante. Activities resume Thursday, January 21.
  • Saturday, December 12, 6:00 p.m. @ Bethany Community Center: Christmas Party. Please come and help us celebrate the accomplishments of our ESL, Kids Adelante, and L.I.T. students this trimester and honor volunteers with sustained service.