Last Thursday afternoon while picking up boys for basketball practice I noticed I was being followed closely by an SUV. Before pulling into the parking lot at the gym one of my boys noticed it also. The car had been following us for a couple of miles and followed me through several left hand turns. I know I hadn't cut anyone off and was wondering why this car was following me so closely. I dropped off all but one of the youth and then I took the junior high school youth to his gym. I couldn't shake the fact that I had been followed closely and it wasn't just a random car. I got home around 7 pm and decided that maybe I was a little paranoid and got ready for the football game.
Let me go back a little and give some history. A few blocks from where I live, there have been some shootings going on over the last few weeks. No one has been shot but the police are aware of some of players and are doing all they can to end the violence before someone gets shot. Someone was even found with a rifle on the roof and the players are being rounded up. There is a problem with keeping them in custody as they've just become adults and although they have records, juvenile records don't follow people as they become adults. Example: if a youth has 2 felonies as a youth and then commits a felony as an adult, there is no 3 strike rule as 2 of the felonies were committed as a youth. This has definitely tied the hands of our justice system from getting some of these bad apples off the street. No one really wants to "snitch" on anyone else as that makes them a target as well as their family members.
Now I'm moving forward in time. This past Saturday one of the boys I picked up on Thursday walked into the gym with 2 of his "friends". One of the leaders of the gym commented on the type of friends the young man is hanging out with as the boys he came with have bad reputations and are known gang members. Now moving forward to Sunday I find out that those boys and the one who I gave a ride to on Sunday may be a part of the gang that is shooting up our neighborhood and starting a gang war with someone who was just released from prison. When I found that out, everything that happened on Thursday afternoon came to light and I was shaken to the core.
For the first time I felt I may or the car I was driving was a target of violence. I've been in some tough neighborhoods yet I was never a target or felt like I was a target. This is not a good feeling and the fact that I have young men in my car doesn't make me feel any better. I'm praying for comfort from the Holy Spirit and that peace and understanding come to these young men who are committed to the violence of the streets. I look forward to talking to the young man who I personally have a relationship with and look forward to hopefully walking him through to safety and a healthy lifestyle. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I go through this time of unrest and please keep the youth in mind whom I've been empowered to help.
I feel like I've had a warning to keep up my power of discernment concerning the streets and the violence which is constantly below the surface here in the North Side of Pittsburgh. I don't question why I'm here nor is this a lifting of the white flag of surrender. This is more of me just figuring out how to work smarter and once again shows me how close to the bottom these boys whom I serve are.
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