Many who read this blog aren't aware of Belize's high murder rate. In 2017, Belize ranked 7th in the world for murders per capita. In 2021, Belize is on-par with those trends. In the past few weeks alone several young people's lives were taken by gun violence. Belizeans are mourning and looking for answers. Social Media is rife with outrage, cries for reform, cries for justice.
As a youth worker who has lost clients to gun violence, each new death brings up memories of others who were senselessly gunned-down. In my experience with gang-affiliated youth, there are many ways to attempt to divert them onto healthier paths; mentorship, jobs, culturally-relevant experiences and belonging, to name a few. All of these outreach modes are employed with the goal of disarming the youth.
As I think about the word disarm, it seems like the church has been disarmed. Somehow we have lost our armor; we've become impotent and ineffective. The enemy has not called a truce; but somehow we've put our swords down. Every day more and more young people are falling into depression, poverty and despair. Every day, more of them feel that violence against themselves or others is the only way out. It's time for the army of God to arm ourselves and get back into battle.
Put on the full armor of God, so that you can
take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
The armor of God mainly includes defensive armor; except the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. So, let's use the Word in our prayer, knocking down strongholds. Let's stand on truth and fight for the lost. The Word is living and active. The Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. It is the truth and the truth will set them free.
On his weekly boys call last night, Eddie and the youth talked about the factors that draw young people to gangs and what they can do to reverse the trend of violence. They discussed reaching out to friends who are from broken homes, of embracing those who appear to be slipping through the cracks. One young leader led the group in prayer for the affected families and prayer for this generation of teens who are lost and looking for rescue.
We, as a church, have a role in beating back the darkness. It's not to rail against government or hide in our pews. We are called to be a light, to pull others out of the quicksand they find themselves in. We are called to share The Word, to use it to pierce the darkness and take back those who have been kept hostage to sin. Will you arm up and join the rescue mission