• Kathy Taylor

The Aftermath Effect “Why Men Are Needed to help Save Our Sons”

“Enough is Enough!”

Those are the words that were projected on the screens in The Garden at Gethsemane Fellowship Community Church on August 19th. These words were Pastor Houston’s sentiments about the crime that has bombarded the communities which surround the church and beyond. In reflection, Pastor Houston told the stories of the young people who were killed within the last two years, and funerals held at Gethsemane. The stories varied from a girl killed by her boyfriend because she didn’t want to talk to him, to a young man killed in a random shooting.

He concluded with the story of a grandmother who came to him after a service and said she was concerned about her grandson. She wanted to know if Pastor Houston would talk to him. He agreed and they set a time and date to talk. He gave general details about the meeting such as learning about the sports and other activities in which the young man was involved. Pastor Houston saw the great potential that this young man had to offer his community, and possibly the world. As a proud grandmother, she chimed in saying how well her grandson could sing. She wanted him to sing a song for the pastor, yet he was a little embarrassed and didn’t want to. After a little prompting and pushing, he finally granted her wish and sang a song. It was approximately twelve weeks later that this 17-year-old young man was shot and killed.

Even though Pastor Houston has felt a burden and pull about the escalating crime rate in our city, this is the time that he had to say “enough is enough”. It was this funeral service that caused him to make it a priority to talk to the youth, to hear in their words what concerns they had (read the blog post “Our Navigation Needs an Upgrade” http://bit.ly/2bVDS7E). This was the beginning of the official start of conversations of the Save Our Sons Mentoring Program.

The service held on August 19th was scheduled for men to meet; however, the focus was shifted a bit so that a clear call to action could be presented to the men in attendance. Dr. Geoffrey Guns was the guest speaker for the evening. He began by mentioning that he, too, understood the burden of burying so many youth and young adults who have been lost to gun violence. He talked about a call he received as he was driving to the service. This was a call from a young lady who said her family was falling apart. Her parents were ready to separate and divorce because they couldn’t bounce back from losing her brother who was killed.

Dr. Guns explained that oftentimes the consequences of the death of a loved one include more pain, violence, and anger which breaks up families that were already teetering on the edge. Dr. Guns is the senior pastor of Second Calvary Baptist Church, Norfolk. Because his church also serves the heartbeat of many troubled Norfolk communities, he is committed to being a part of the long-term change that is needed. The sermon he gave asked men to be someone with whom a young boy or young man can be open and vulnerable. Being the one who, even when they are exhibiting characteristics that “aren’t so loveable,” will still stick by them. He made a plea for men to step up and make a covenant and real commitment for a lifetime bond. He made it clear that the call was for men who are willing to stick with these boys through good times and bad. This is not a six-month feel-good, or look-what-I-did kind of commitment. Dr. Guns asked if they could be that person who will be the change for which a boy or young man secretly prayed.

This is when I started thinking about how the devastation of these violent deaths is far more catastrophic than just a single incident. The aftermath of what the families, friends and loved ones have to endure is stressful, to say the least. From starting a GoFundMe account to pay for the funeral to explaining to a toddler why they will never see their daddy again. This is not what life is supposed to be about. There is so much more to the youth and young adults who are caught up in this lifestyle.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” That means that we all have to have an authentic, vested interest in creating a solution.

While the violence and crime epidemic is not just isolated to males, they are the major influencers and contributors. One of the primary goals of the Save Our Sons Mentoring Program is to provide Christian male role models to the young men who need guidance from another male who is committed to being there to nurture, show love, and endure the struggles with them long-term. The aftermath effect of our current trend of gun violence, gangs, and other obstacles that disrupt our communities can be restructured with the help of a few good men.

If you are interested in making a commitment to be a mentor, or you have other services that can assist the program’s efforts, please contact Pastor Houston at 757-622-0760.

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© 2018 I-THRIVE Youth Mentoring Program sponsored by Garden of Hope CDC