Deliverance From Gangs
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The Practical Guide to Ministering to Gang Members
What is a Gang Member?
Depending on who you ask this question to you may receive a variety of answers. If you ask the average citizen, they might reply, “A bunch of thugs and drug dealers.” The average police officer might reply, “A group of criminals.” And the average politician might say, “A lot of minorities destroying their community.” Yes, the topic of gangs normally generates a negative response, but has anyone actually asked an active gang member the same question? Well, I have, and these were some of their responses:
“A gang is a brotherhood that’s filled with loyalty, dedication, and discipline.”
“A group of like-minded individuals from the same neighborhood that came together to form a bond.”
“A clique of guys that didn’t receive any love from their family or the system, so they received their love from the streets.”
The Cry for Help
Have you ever wondered how a singular topic can generate such different responses? I believe we have problems like this because most of the time the message is lost in the tone. One side is screaming out for help, while the other side is forced to deal with the consequences of how they are asking for help. And honestly, their delinquent behavior is really a deep cry for help. For example, a newborn baby doesn’t know how to help itself, so it will scream and cry until the parent discovers a solution for the crying baby. We, as Christians, have to recognize the loud cry of gangs, and lead them to the loving arms of our Lord and Savior, because that’s the only solution that will work.
The cry for help is not always convenient and conventional. It may come from the homeless teenager that endured many sleepless and foodless nights, until he is on the local news for committing a robbery. It may come from the 17-year-old girl that didn’t feel loved at home, so she found it elsewhere, until she discovered that she was pregnant. Or this cry may come from the wife that endured years of verbal, physical, and sexual abuse, until one day she killed her husband. Are you ready to answer they cry for help, or will you lay the responsibility at the feet of others?
The gangs in America come in all different sizes and demographics. There are the Bloods, Crips, Ms-13, Latin Kings, Aryan Nation, Aryan Brotherhood, Vice-lords, and Gangster Disciples. Plus, there are also thousands of local gangs in different cities that go by different titles. Every major city in the United States has many different gangs.
The U.S. Justice Department says there are “more than 20,000 gangs consisting of approximately 1 million members exist in the United Stated; Gangs are present in all 50 states…” These are eye-popping numbers, especially when we understand that the majority of all gang members are only looking for love and a place of belonging.
In America, some people live under the notion that the term “gang” was created as a racial and discriminatory term to further oppress minority communities. But gangs have been around well before this country was founded.
Biblical Gangs (Rebels)
You will not find the word “gang” in the Bible, but you will discover a very similar word: “rebels.” In the New Testament, this word comes from the Greek word marad. The Webster definition for rebels is: to resist the authority of one’s government; to act in or show disobedience; to feel or exhibit anger or revulsion. If you put the Bible term “rebels” side-by-side with the modern term “gang,” you will see the undeniable similarity.
In the Bible, God was speaking to the prophet Ezekiel and telling him that he was going to purge out the rebels from amongst His children (Ezekiel 20:38). God will not allow division in His family of believers, especially when this division is leading people in a different direction from His divine plan.
God is also a very kind and forgiving God. He is willing to forgive rebellious ways if the rebels are willing to repent. The prophet Daniel asked God for forgiveness, because they rebelled against God (Daniel 9:9). This is our Biblical confirmation that God’s forgiveness is attainable for rebels.
Even in the New Testament we see God’s mercy, grace, and forgiveness is extended to a murderous young man named Saul (Acts 7:58-60, 8:1, 9:1-20). But how do we as Christians approach gangs/rebels in order to lead them to Christ?
The Proper Approach
First, we must throw away all of our preconceived notions and biases about gang members. Then we must understand that ministering to a gang member has to always be done in love. Love heals wounds and brings warmth to the soul. Love is our greatest weapon, because “love is patient and kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4). This also must be done with an open heart and outstretched-helping arms. If a gang member detects any judgmental behavior, you risk losing the opportunity to further minister to them. Which leads to my next point.
The Art of Sympathizing
A lot of Christians lack sympathy! We easily forget that we have committed many sins in our past, which only makes us look judgmental and unrelatable. Will you sympathize with a gang member? Your love and compassion are needed. There is a fear that most gang members carry around with them, and that’s the fear of being abandoned. Will you lead them to the God that promised to never leave them nor forsake them (Hebrews 13:5)? Furthermore, there must be understanding, support, and patience when ministering to gang members, because ministering to them is not always a one-time event. Are you willing to allow God to use you through your time and effort? If so, that brings us to my third point.
The only deliverance in this world comes by the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We know that God healed a blind man, so then we know He is able to heal a gang member too (Mark 8:22-26). We know that God forgave a prostitute, so then we know He is also able to forgive a gang member (John 8:11). And we know that God provided food for 5,000 men with 5 loaves and 2 fish, so then we know He is able to provide food for a gang member as well (Matthew 14:13-21). When ministering to gang members, you have to explain salvation and what it means to be a servant of our Lord. There are so many gang members that have been willing to accept Jesus as their Savior, but never accepted them as Lord over their life. Most have been unknowingly serving two masters. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24)
It is our responsibility as ministers to enlighten gang members with the Word of GOD. Then allow the Holy Spirit to do all the convincing and converting. Which brings us to my final, but most important point.
The Prayer for Deliverance
For years I have been leading gang members in prayer through an outward confession of Jesus, and a full renouncement of their gang. The following is an example of a prayer that they can use to acknowledge their transition away from darkness and into the light.
“Dear Heavenly Father, please forgive me for the sinful lifestyle that I have been living. I renounce my affiliation to all gangs and the soul-ties I had to darkness. I am sorry for all my many mistakes, and now I am turning to you. I believe that you sent your Son to pay the cost for my sins, and that you raised Him from the grave. Father God, from this day forward, I am going to follow, serve, and obey your will. Thank You for saving my soul and renewing my mind. AMEN.”
Danny Dashay Holmes Sr.