The Streets of Our Neighbors

I was recently invited to Baltimore, Maryland by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the Department Of Justice for the annual Youth Violence Prevention Communities of Practice.

On this trip a group of pastors and church leaders were invited by LT. Col. Melvin Russell, of the Baltimore police department, to the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood. We went into the ground zero area where the Baltimore riots occurred over Freddie Gray, who sustained a fatal spinal cord injury in police custody.

As we walked through the streets people yelled out "the police killed Freddie Gray" and "no justice, no peace". I could physically feel the anger, pain, and hopelessness of this community. It was very emotional.

We had the opportunity to attended a small church in the very same neighborhood. We heard church leaders and some youth share about about their hopes for their community. They told us about what they are doing in their neighborhoods and how lives are being changed one person at a time. I had a heavy heart after hearing the chants from the streets of Baltimore, but in that moment, in that tiny church, I saw that there is hope.

In addition to Baltimore, there are many other neighborhoods in the United States with the same DNA: poverty, drug pollution, and violence. Communities across our nation are experiencing similar pain and loss. Sometimes these neighborhoods explode and they get national attention. Most of the time they implode and our youth and children are left to deal with the aftermath. Often they get little or no attention other than being known as "bad neighborhoods".

But l see hope for these
neighborhoods when they have a faithful body of believers that are willing to love and invest in their community and defuse the tension.

"For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Galatians 5:14

Pastor Danny Sanchez