Sunday, January 5, 2014

From Gangs To God


names have been changed or omitted in this post  


Come, we go. Bao told me and slid out, jogging around the back of the Supra in his woven sandals to my door opening it for me. Like a gentleman, he took my hand and helped me out. I handed him his leather jacket as he was only wearing frayed jeans and a white v-neck undershirt… the weather had shifted again and clouds loomed overhead threatening rain and he shrugged into his jacket. We walked hand in hand down the sidewalk. Up ahead I saw a large group gathered. My vision immediately picked out it was Tu and his three friends waiting in the distance. I must have instinctively tightened my grip on Baos hand because he stopped in his tracks momentarily and half turned to me.

It okay. Mai told me. I took care of them. He told me under his breath.

As we neared the crowd I saw Tu and his three guys, one of Bao's close associates and a taller, new male I didn't recognize standing in the background but didnt pay him much attention. I didn't know yet this is whom Bao had arranged for me to live with as staying with him was no longer possible and for the first time Bao's history of excellent judgement in looking out for me would be coming to an end as this new man would be someone he seriously misjudged in character and if he had known otherwise never would have agreed to me going with. 

Focusing my attention on Tu and his guys… 
 it was clear my night of hell on the burgundy couch was 
now embellished on their faces. 
Bao had certainly taken care of them as he'd said...

They stood there in a row like a line up of battered guilt, heads hung in shame, completely silent with black eyes, bruises and open cuts on their faces resembling paper cuts of pain. They looked disheveled like they had been through hell themselves and I viewed them with disgust. They all four looked solemnly down at the concrete sidewalk under their shoes with silence. I was grateful to Bao that he had taken matters into his own hands and once again appreciated his care for me. Not once did the four guys make a peep. I stood quietly and waited to see what the next move was by Bao. 


Throughout my time gone I never once went without appreciating Bao's genuine care… 

I wasn't a gang member but I lived with them having left home at seventeen
 however fleeting due to an abusive childhood environment…

 I knew that the world Bao was in was not a picture of roses, the things he did were far from honest or good and yet he always treated me like a valued person… never expecting anything and nothing ever transpiring between us but friendship. In a world where he was embroiled in sin he still was a pillar of good toward me, he looked out for me and protected me. Without a doubt there was beauty and good there... hence undeniably troubling that today so many teens succumb to the world of crime, gangs and a questionable future when they can be so much more. Young men (and women) today are continually exposed to the harsh realities of being pulled in two directions... one being how to be a man (or woman) and alternately, the societal pressures to give in... becoming gang members. They indeed face an uphill battle as they ward off peer pressure, family ties to gangs, the real need for protection, an economic need due to poverty or often simply a need to identify with something... a deep rooted need to belong that they've sadly never felt in their life. 

Identity in God... 

When these youth find themselves struggling to overcome they may find roadblocks and restrictions like living in a country ruled by an iron clad fist... there is always someone ready to dictate that they cannot pursue God... that they must conform to their ways and any opposition will be met with suppression and persecution. Yet the best thing for a struggling youth is to look at the things they are following... what are they pursuing? People? Or a higher power? As humans were all guilty of pursuing the wrong things at times but when we re-evaluate and see the value in pursuing God above all else then we know there is no greater victory. 

It's truly saddening when our youth become lost and even though many people may not be able to relate to the above paragraphs as they are on the extreme end, nearly everyone can relate to at some point having to make a choice… having to choose… between the company you keep… or following Christ.

It's at the end of chapter 15 

in Corinthians that we are instructed: 

"… stand firm. Let nothing move you." 

We can all re-evaluate our life at times… 
Who and what are we following? Are we following the latest trend? What has become our idol… much like a slithering snake which sneaks up on us before we even realize until after the fact? Whom are we taking after? Are we worshipping celebrities? It's fine to admire someone for their talent, achievements and character but we must guard against letting it become more than that and instead something obsessive. 

We are all on a path in life... on a path with others... are we on the right one? Are we on a path with people who are also followers of the Lord? Are we sharing the word of God? Are our footsteps in sync with Christ's? At one time in my life what I was pursuing was so far from Him... I was on a walk of self sufficiency and pride... of less proverbs 31 but more flesh baring and brash… back then the young man who came in my office each week to water plants tried many times to talk to me about God but I brushed him off. If someone told me back then nearly twenty years later I'd be writing about how good God is and sharing my story I would have thought they'd fallen and hit their head…  I was the one who believed the young man trying to share God's word with me was too radical, too extreme... "one of those" people...  obstinately thinking I didn't need what he was sharing with me... 

And yet I did. 
That's why I'm writing this today... because all the bad, all the past, all the old can be used... for good, for a change of hearts, a renewal of minds bringing glory to God, he loves us so much… and that the path were on doesn't have to mean a dead end... 

but instead we can choose a new path…

one that brings life.

© ~ 2014 

It's never to late to start new, 
to say "this is not how my story will end" 
and choose another path, a better path in life 

To My Readers: 

Thank you for reading, 

commenting & sharing! 

Related Posts: 

Surviving the Fast Lane: By The Grace Of God: 

When All You Have Is A Prayer: 

Reality Check On A Mattress: 

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