Gang Member Definition
What pops into my head and what pops into your head when the words gang member are said are two vastly different things. The typical "gang member" in the United States is very different from those here in El Salvador. I am reading a book called "Peace in the Streets: Breaking the Cycle of Gang Violence by Arturo Hernandez and he gives a very accurate description of a gang member even though he is referring to gang members in the States. In reference to a gang member he says,
"They are our neighbors' sons, our cousins' daughters. They are children we have seen grow up. They sit in the back row at church, they dance at our daughters' 15th quinceñeras, and they say hello to us when we pass them by the phone booth at the corner market. They are children for whom we feel sorry, who die young before us, who stagger the streets drunk or stoned or covered in paint they've been sniffing."
In my words they are kids that used to come to our church and are the parents of some who are still in church. They are children; children turned into adults. They sit in the back row at church, they take our english classes, they say hello when we pass them on the street. They are kids I feel compassion for, who die young before me, who stagger the streets drunk or stoned, or covered in paint they've been sniffing. This is my reality and I want to change it. This book isn't the answer but the author has some great points and proves that the kids need mentorship which is the secular word for discipleship which is what we do. I believe what I do is more like gang prevention than anything else. However, my heart goes out to those who have made the decision to live the crazy life. I am praying that God gives me ideas and wisdom on how we can get through to the children we work with that have, thus far, chosen not to be in gangs to continue to make the right decisions and live for the Lord.