Instead of joining gangs, they are joining God’s family . . .

Posted on by Hannah Lunstrum

By Minta Buse, City Life Director

I used to think that we didn’t have a gang problem in the Pacific Northwest. I saw gangs in movies; it was a problem in huge cities like Los Angeles or New York. Over the past 10 years of working with teens at Youth for Christ, I have come to see that gangs are a reality for many of the teens I work with.

Many teens join gangs because they don’t think they have other opportunities and they have a desire to belong to something important. They also often join gangs because they are pressured by their friends, seeking protection in a rough neighborhood, or even so they can earn money through drug dealing and crime. They do not see the hurt it will cause them or others long term, and often by the time they want out, it is too late! A gang may be the only “family” a teen ever knows. That's why we pursue teens, because we know a better family they can be part of; the greatest family of all.

Last month teens from Monroe, Stanwood and Casino Road attended our annual winter discipleship camp. Many of them live in gang infested, crime-ridden neighborhoods and some are of them are being actively pursued and pressured to join gangs. But instead of getting caught up in that turmoil, they spent their weekend at Camp Casey on Whidbey Island, worshipping God and learning about Him. At camp, these students spent time in small groups studying the Bible and learning how to be disciples. There was time spent listening to a speaker (Mike Davis from Seattle Union Gospel Mission) and worshipping their Maker.

Ephesians 1:4-6 says:

    "Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family and by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son!"

At Youth for Christ, we celebrate the fact that all of us (drug dealers, straight A students, gang members, pastors, teen moms, stay at home moms, orphans, convicted felons, school teachers, etc.) are invited into God's family. A family where we are pursued and loved by our Father, and where He gives the new identity of being loved and free!

There is no greater joy than watching young people who have struggled, more than many of us could ever fathom, realize that God is their father and that he wants to have a real, life changing relationship with them! This realization changes everything!

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