Street violence—what we can do about it

Street violence isn't something "out there" over which we have no power. It's something we can handle, right now, in our own thought.

Talk about rude awakenings! Mine came as a hard sock in the jaw. Here's what happened: My wife and I were walking along the main street of our busy city one evening when a group of noisy young men came our way. We paid little attention until one of them reached out and hit me as they quickly continued on their way. It turned out that they were hitting every man they encountered along the street whose appearance was unlike theirs.

I was aware of the many problems associated with street gangs in our cities. The violence. The crime. The drug dealing. The hopelessness. And the fear generated in the hearts of city dwellers. Yes, I had tried to shake this sad picture by what I now saw to be feeble attempts to include these problems in my prayers. But that sock in the jaw caused me to realize that the time had come to stand forth boldly on the front line of a praying and caring citizenry. The entire world has recently seen the effects of prayer in the breathtaking movements toward political and religious freedom in many parts of the world. Why not apply the power of prayer to street violence?

I knew I needed to dig much deeper and get to the root of the problem. Here is how I started: Considering some of the causes or reasons behind this alarming enslavement of our young people, I came up with some of the more obvious ones, such as poverty, broken homes, racial prejudice, lack of moral or religious education. But I knew that I must go beyond all of this and address the very nature of evil itself.

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A heart for community
April 6, 1992

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