Monday, September 27, 2010

Another lesson learned from the streets

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.


Anonymous said...

Chad, the work you are doing may not seem to have as much of an impact as it actually will have long term. However, your impact will be much more limited if you are dead. One of my mentors in working with imprisoned women died in the line of our work because she trusted and tried to help the wrong person who turned on her. Her first words of advice to me (which she failed to heed) were "Never forget who you are dealing with." There's a lot that goes on that we are not aware of even among those who are trying to change.

I pray for your wisdom at the same time as I pray for your safety and effectiveness.

--Chuck Kinsey

The Henricksen Journal said...

My initial knee jerk reaction is: "Get the heck out of there." However, with that being said, I am thankful for several of the Lords servants who have been pivotal in my life who did not leave me stranded. No, I may not have been in the same dire circumstances as the boys you are serving, but I am thankful for them all they same. My life would be much different and less fulfilling if not for persons such as you walking the walk and talking the talk. I love you and will pray for your safety.

Anonymous said...

I think you have already learned and yet continue to learn and live what it means to lay down your life for another, my dear Chad B. You've found that your life is not your own, that it is Jesus who dwells in you and it is Him who through you walks the streets of North Pittsburgh. "Fear not, for I am with you always." -- Mark D

Krista said...

wow. I would be shaken by that, too. be safe out there. you bring to mind this verse:

"Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ."

God will bless you in eternity for your willingness to give up everything for him.

You are my hero. I am working at being brave enough to give everything up, hence reading Erwin McManus for a kick in the pants.

carey clan said...

I don't know what to say. I find myself extremely emotional for different reasons each time I read your blog.
We love you Chad. Our family prays for you and thinks about "Grandpa Chad" a lot (last night for that matter!)
Be careful..... Chuck is right, don't forget who you are dealing with.
Call me!