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God Over Gangs

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  • Format: Folded Flyer Tract
  • Size: 3.5 inches x 8.5 inches
  • Pages: 8
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Uncovering The Darkness That’s Hidden In The Light

Written By Danny Dashay Holmes Sr.

The importance of GOD being served over Gangs should not even be a topic, and yet we are witnessing all the damaging effects that gangs are causing to our communities, our families, and our FAITH. Today, gangs are recruiting new members at such an alarming rate that if this issue is not addressed, we will find ourselves amid a hostile takeover.

Urban Gangs

Crips, Bloods, Gangstas, Aryans, Vice Lords, and MS-13s are just a few examples of the innumerable different gangs that we see all around us.

The Webster’s Dictionary definition for a gang states: “A group or band engaging in delinquent behavior.” Though this is a correct definition, it does not paint a clear enough picture of just how deceptive and deadly gangs truly are.

Gangs have completely infiltrated society and have stolen the innocence of so many of our young men and women. Gangs are destroying our freedom, families, friends and—worst of all—our faith in GOD. The streets, prisons, and jails are flooded with gangs, and there does not seem to be an end to this madness in sight.

BUT WHY? Why are gangs still growing at an alarming rate? In addition, why are gang prevention/intervention programs almost nonexistent or just not effective? In my experience, an anti-gang program’s focus was to get gang members to give up the only thing that they have ever belonged to, instead of leading them to the only person that is worth belonging to, which is JESUS!

Dominating Influence

As a young teenager, being involved in a gang was a big deal for my friends and me because we were enticed by the “gangsta-style” movies that we saw on television. We used to watch all the gangsta movies like, “Scar Face,” “The Godfather,” and “Paid In Full.” We also used to love listening to rap music that was full of gangsta lyrics. I used to listen to rap music so much on repeat, that it felt like I was drunk on the gangsta lyrics of artists like Tupac, Lil’ Boosie, and Young Jeezy.

While most kids our age wanted to be doctors or lawyer, we didn’t believe that was possible for us, so we became what we saw around us. I call this “Dominating Influence,” which means that our environment—what we learned from television, music, and social media—controlled us so deeply that it was easy for gangs to manipulate our tiny adolescent brains.

Beneath the self-created, veneered stigma of the most vicious gang members, you will be surprised by the numerous young men that truly have good hearts. Now, I am neither justifying nor making excuses for being in a gang. However, I am admitting that I understand how a person could possibly be deceived into joining something that they may not fully understand, nor consider the dire consequences of their decision.

Joining A Gang

At the unimaginable age of 14 years old, in the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I joined a gang. In my neighborhood, the G’s had all the fresh-cars, fly-clothes, and fine-girls, all of which were the lures that were used to catch my attention. The Gangstas on my block often allowed me and my friends to be around them and come into the “trap-house” (drug house) to hang out.

Milwaukee is notoriously nicknamed “Kil-Waukee”‘ because it is kill or be killed in the streets. In the movies, when you see a person being initiated into a gang, you see that person must first kill someone to get into that gang. Now, I am not saying that’s not an accurate portrayal of getting into certain gangs, but most gangs have less lethal requirements to join. In the summer of ‘04, me and my friends joined a gang, which simultaneously led to us selling “Crack (cocaine)” and thuggin’ with everyone else that was on our block.

Gangs That Call Themselves Organizations

If you have never been in a gang, at this point in your reading you just might be saying to yourself, “Why would anyone join a gang?” Well, you must first understand that a lot of gangs don’t label themselves as such. Mainly, the police department, court system, and prison system call urban groups “gangs.”

Honestly, the first time that I was labeled a “gang member” was when I went to jail; before that, I was taught that I was in an organization.

The term “gang” or “organization” makes a significant difference when it comes to recruiting young teens. It is very deceptive whenever a group is obviously a gang within its nature, yet labels themselves as an organization in its title.

Biblical Gangs

One day I was ministering to a young man about the love of GOD and telling him my testimony of how JESUS set me free from the gang that I was a member of. He listened to me curiously, and mid-way into my testimony, he gave a quick rebuttal and said, “There ain’t no gangs in the Bible!” I smiled and took our conversation straight to the Word of GOD.

As you study your Bible, you will see many different “groups,” and if they were around today, we would likely label them as a gang. There is one particular gang in the Book of Acts that I want us to take a closer look at. In the 23rd chapter, we see the Apostle Paul giving his testimony before the High Council about how JESUS changed his life. The High Council could not prove that he was guilty (v.9). In verse 12, we see a different group of Jews that I want us to pay close attention to:

“The next morning a group of Jews got together and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. There were more than forty of them in the conspiracy. They went to the leading priests and elders and told them, ‘We have bound ourselves with an oath to eat nothing until we have killed Paul. So you and the high council should ask the commander to bring Paul back to the council again. Pretend you want to examine his case more fully. We will kill him on the way’” (Acts 23:12-15, NLT).

These 40 men are our example of a Biblical gang. They not only planned to kill Apostle Paul—if that was not bad enough—but these men even bound themselves under an oath not to eat until they killed him. Within itself, this shows just how serious and evil their intentions were. We call groups like these gangs because of the violent nature they are built upon. In other words, if this group of 40 men was formed to legally prove that Paul was guilty and not to murder him, they would not be classified as a gang.

However, we see that this group was created, formed, and built on evil deeds. Secretly, this gang of men was going to try to kill Paul by any means necessary. Fortunately for Paul, his nephew overheard their plans and told him (v. 16). Isn’t it beautiful how GOD will have the right people, in the right places, at the right times just to save us?! This group of 40 men is one of our Biblical examples of what we use to identify gangs. We identify them not to judge them, but to bring them to the knowledge and truth that is in Christ JESUS.

Professional Gangs

I had to coin the term “Professional Gangs,” because I could not find a word that explains or defines the people that are professionals in their work title, yet more accurately thugs in their behavior. For example, on January 7, 2023, in the city of Memphis, a young man named Tyre Nichols was snatched out of his vehicle by five black police officers and was viciously beaten, ultimately resulting in his death.

The heinous, reckless, and inhumane actions of these police officers were recorded on video for the world to witness. One of the family attorneys was quoted in saying, “He was a human piñata for these police officers.”

I do not believe that I am going out on a limb when I label these five former Memphis police officers as a professional gang. I am trying to show you that gangs come in many different shapes and sizes; we can use the Word of GOD to be our light to uncover their darkness. I would be remiss if I did not mention that there are just as many “gangstas” on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley as there are on the “streets.” The artist Jeezy said that this is an example of “Corporate-Thuggin.”

There Is A Way Out

Sometimes we join or commit to things that we believe are one thing, only to later realize that it is not what we thought it would be like. In the Bible, we learn that we have been deceived if we find ourselves in this type of situation.

I was lured into joining a gang, but I cannot say that I was completely deceived, because I kind of knew what I was signing up for. Honestly, in my neighborhood everybody was a gangsta, so I knew that one day I was going to be a gangsta, too. I was lured by the cars, clothes, and jewelry, but I neglected to read the “fine print,” which was the violence, prison, and/or death. I was OK with “handling the business,” but NOTHING is worth spending your whole life in Juvenile Centers, Jails, and Prison!

The problem that I had—and what I am witnessing from the gang members that I speak with—was not just being in a gang, but believing that there was no safe way out. Let’s just keep it real, nobody wants to volunteer to be “smashed-off,” “plugged-out,” and/or be “shunned” by the only people that you have ever known as your family. The excuse that kept me trapped in the affiliation I was in for 14 years was that I didn’t know anything else but the streets, which was rooted in my extremely loyal nature. The streets were all that I knew, so I stayed loyal to the streets and acted accordingly … at least, that was until I met the real JESUS.

One day, Minister Shaun said to me, “Danny, Jesus said you can’t serve two masters because you will be loyal to one and disloyal to the other.”

I just looked at him with tears in my eyes because I knew that he was right. He went on and explained to me that it isn’t possible for me to obey Jesus and obey my affiliation at the same time. He also said that everything in life comes down to the choices we make or do not make. I heard all his words, but I was afraid. I can admit now that my fears made me not want to get out of the gang that I was in.

It wasn’t so much the fear of getting “smashed off,” but more so the fear of walking away from a brotherhood that I had devoted 14 years of my life to. Honestly, I never had any plans of ever leaving the affiliation I was in.

When it came down to the life changing moment of me making the decision to “plug out,” I had to use my faith in our Heavenly Father to override my fears.

On June 20, 2018, at 8:09 a.m., I made the life-changing decision to renounce my gang membership. There is a freedom that comes in surrender to JESUS, which I do not believe is possible for me to fully explain. In the very the moment I made my decision, there was an instantaneous feeling of relief and peace which washed over me as I renounced my gang membership. I immediately told everyone because I was not ashamed of the decision I made. The fear that hindered me before I made my decision was now replaced with confidence and joy. And that confidence assured me that I was finally on the correct path.

The Choice Is Yours

At the risk of sounding unsympathetic, the choice is yours to make regarding you renouncing your gang membership and serving the Lord. This is the decision that only you can make, and right now can be the moment you make it. In the Bible, we see a similar choice was presented about serving God:

“Choose this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15, ESV).

When I was a kid, living on the North side of Milwaukee, my mother had this Bible verse hung up on her kitchen wall. She let it be known that her household was going to serve the Lord. Are you willing to also let it be known that you are now going to serve the Lord?

If you are a Christian and currently still in a gang, let me explain to you what you may be feeling in your spirit: CONVICTION! The conviction you may be feeling is one of the ways that God speaks to us. Jesus told us that,

“When [the Holy Spirit] comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8-11, ESV).

However, if you are currently a member of a gang, but you don’t feel any conviction in your spirit, that could be because either the Holy Spirit is not present in your life, or you have just grown so cold to the Word of God that your heart is hardened. If the Holy Spirit is not present in your life, then this is telltale sign that you truly have not surrendered your life to Christ, because the Holy Spirit is the believer’s gift from God (Acts 2:38). However, do not panic or be afraid because you can make the heart-changing decision right now.

The Bible teaches us the following about salvation:

“That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9, NKJV).

If you want to give your whole heart to Jesus and allow God to change your life for the better, then pray something like the following prayer out loud and mean it in your heart:

“Father God, please forgive me for all my sins. Please help me LORD. I believe that you sent your son Jesus to die for my sins and I believe that you raised Jesus from the grave.

Lord, I repent of my sin of unbelief, and now I truly believe. Father, I am done following the gang I was affiliated with. Today I am choosing to serve You and no longer serve my gang.

Father, I am so, so sorry. I am truly sorry for all damage I done and all the pain I caused. I truly want to be a better person, but I just do not know what a ‘better person’ looks like.

LORD, from this day forward I am going to turn from my ways, and I am now going to follow you. And LORD, I am going to need your help every single day because I do not know how to serve you.

Father GOD, I know that you don’t expect me to be perfect, however, whatever you tell me to do, I will try to do it. I was loyal to the streets, which is proof that I am loyal at heart, so now my loyalty is fully devoted to you.

Father God, create in me a new heart, and please take this hate out of me. I do not want to be the person that I use to be. And I believe that you are the only way for this transformation to happen.

Thank you, LORD! Thank you for choosing me and for saving my soul. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

If you have made this decision, now go and tell your gang that you now follow JESUS, and you are done following them. Confidently, go tell everyone that you surrendered your life to JESUS and renounced your affiliation with your gang. Spread the good news of your newfound freedom in JESUS. Join a Church and be Baptized (Acts 2:38), because now it’s time for you to be taught more clearly about our loving Heavenly Father. GOD BLESS YOU.

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