Tuesday, July 31, 2007


And the beat goes on. One after another, day after tragic day the residents of Philadelphia endure yet another killing. Fifteen year old Raheem Grant (the young man pictured in the photo) was murdered just days ago in what police say was a retaliation killing. And with the ‘don’t snitch’ culture firmly entrenched in our ‘community’ it seems likely that that’s as close as they will get to solving this crime.

Many explanations have been offered and many solutions put forth to address this pandemic of slaughter. From what I hear and read at least in the Philly area the solutions seemed grouped into four categories. First there’s gun control. The vast majority of the city’s murder victims are slain by a firearm. A second aspect is lack of jobs and opportunity with a corresponding lack of hope in the community. A third is poor or absent leadership by politicians which includes money for recreation centers, after school programs, more and better policing etc. A fourth centers on quality education which supposedly would give inner city (code for poor black/Hispanic) residents the necessary tools to reach for a life outside of the hood.

I do believe in one way or another all of these solutions have some merit, but overall they are a pipe dream. Simply put, the city of Philadelphia will not be able to control the flood of guns into the city’s poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods. Good paying, blue collar jobs which could help forge the backbone of a sound health community have never been abundant in poor black neighborhoods. I grew up in West Philly and never remember a time when my father, his friends or my uncles went to a company or factory that paid a living wage suitable for stabilizing a family and lifting them from underclass to working class to middle class. Trust me, the hood has always had low paying subsistence jobs and apart from extraordinary efforts by those who populate the hood that will always be the case. This is especially true in an era when companies usually associated with providing these kinds of jobs are no longer offering them or have shipped them overseas. Our politicians may be well intentioned and have some good plans but most of what they wish to do relies on obtaining more money something the state of PA has little if any desire to allocate to KillAdelphia. Schools which have been put on the front lines of these particular killing fields are ill-equipped to both teach the three r’s and shepherd the souls of young people so that they grow into productive citizens instead of violent killers.

No these solutions are destined to fail. They will fail because they only scratch the surface of the real problem. They don’t answer the question of why there is so, so little value on human life. They don’t grapple with why a generation of black youth that is the most free and has the most opportunity than any previous one also suffers from the most despair. They don’t address the inability of politicians, police and social workers to bring about a change of heart and mind among those who live and die by the code of the streets. They wonder but have no solution concerning why those who strive to make the most of their education are mocked, while those who go to jail are celebrated.
They will also fail because they depend on others to solve a problem that mainly affects us directly and one that the black community must step to the plate to deal with ourselves. Unfortunately it seems that few within our community stop and ask ‘what happens if we can’t get gun control, what if the good jobs which were never here don’t materialize, what will our politicians do should they not be able to open more recreation centers and get more police on the streets and what if our schools just aren’t up to the task of raising children instead of just teaching them?

Let me put it bluntly. What if white America says ‘look, your children are killing each other in your neighborhoods and frankly that’s not our problem. You are on your own.’ What would we do? Where would we turn? To whom would we go? It’s here that I’m supposed to give the obligatory answer that ‘black folks need to get back to God’. And yes that’s true in a certain sense. It’s true only if we return to the God of Scripture and not the god of the black man and woman. It’s true if we’re ready to come to God on His terms, through His Son as He’s revealed in Scripture and to pursue His agenda, rather than prostitute Him to indulge ours. However, if our only desire is to have a god who eases our pain, increases our wealth and levels the playing field with white America, in other words if we want a divine mascot and not the self-existent, self-sufficient, all powerful and sovereign Creator and sustainer of the universe then let’s not bother folks. Let’s just do what we’ve always done when things began to go from bad to worse in our neighborhoods. In the words of one resident where Raheem Grant was murdered ‘"The neighborhood is pretty bad . . . ," she said. "Someone I know just got shot two weeks ago. I'm trying to move."

In Grief
Pastor Lance


christian said...

Pastor Lance, good words. I really appreciate your posts as a white guy who's brought his family to the city (Milwaukee) on purpose to see what God might do in, through and around us. I'll be back regularly for more wisdom.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Lance:

My nephew (Black) was shot five times and lived (I believe he may be elected by God) and my other nephew was shot six times and lived (I also believe he may be elected by God). I have shared the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ with both of them. They are both young. One is 16 and the other is 21. The oldest one is involved in drugs and I believe the youngest one was shot because of the oldest one being involved in drugs.

I believe charity begins at home. My sister had her olderst son taken from her, by his Father. My nephew felt abandoned by my sister. She was on drugs and could not care for my nephew. My nephew grew up resenting and hating my sister (his mother) and does not care about anything (not even his life). So he sells drugs to make fast money, because he has no fear of anything. He has latched on to the Blackness of the muslim faith.

I do believe, however, that God is going to save him. I believe it was ordained before the foundation of the world.

I guess I responded to Killadelphia to say that I believe a lot of the reason for Killadelphia is improper upbringing. The parents of the ones who kill........no, they may not be the ones to blame, but the way some of these chldren have been raised, plays a big part in it. The lack of love in their upbringing is a major problem. I believe that love (to feel loved) is a major factor in the life of any child. They need to feel loved by their parent(s). My nephew felt resenment from his Father, and abandonment from his Mother (athough she did not leave him, the father told him that she did). The feeling of abandonment caused my nephew to resent him Mothe.

Both of my nephews live in Philadelphia, and both of them were shot, over 4 times each. For some reason, God spared each of their lives.

Cathy was loved and raised by the same Mother and Father that loved and raised me. Cathy knows love. Her son doesn't.

I know that the love of God is the greatest love of all.

Please pray that Cathy's sons as well as Cathy will experience the love of God, which will keep their minds is perfect peace, and spare their souls for an eternity.

God bless

Please pray from Cathy and her sons.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the few typos but I was in a rush. Pray for the mothers and fathers in Philadelphia, and please pray for Cathy's sons, and Cathy.


Pastor Lance said...

hey anonymous,

thanks for the post. of course you and your family will be in my prayers.

you're right in saying that much of the problem is with how we're raising or not raising our children.

Lord willing more and more of us will raise our children with love for God, love for their community and love for themselves.

pastor lance