Lessons for Youth

A long time ago, the city of Jerusalem was under Siege by an enemy and the conditions within the city became so great that the following scene is described:

2 Kings 6:28-29
Then he asked her, "What's the matter?"
She answered, "This woman said to me, 'Give up your son so we may eat him today, and tomorrow we'll eat my son.' So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, 'Give up your son so we may eat him,' but she had hidden him."

This is too horrific to truly contemplate. The idea of cannibalism is beyond our comprehension but it happens when people are truly starving to death.

I share this story as I am overwhelmed with the violence, degradation, and nihilism that many of our youth share today. As I write this, many governmental agencies, faith communities, and community advocates are trying to develop strategies in the Rochester community to turn the tide on what has been on of the bloodiest years in recent memory.

The women in the Bible text had a legitimate need. They were hungry. Food is fairly plentiful in America, so we often do not experience what many in the world (1 billion people will not have enough food today) experience on a daily basis.

What if we had a time machine and could go back from our well fed stations in life to this horrific scene. We would of course be appalled and appropriately so. However, we probably would not truly appreciate the horrific conditions and the driving hunger that led to the terrible event of cooking a child.

I wonder if we are not doing the same with violence in our Urban communities. I wonder if we are seeing the horrific acts spawned by equally horrific deprivations. We see the violence and we immediately spring into action to protect ourselves and react to the ugliness by developing safety protocols. We are not solving the problem, only merely segregating the problem to areas where we do not have to live. What if the purpose of the violence is for us to develop a sensitivity and compassion for the needs of children and young adults who have been underparented, oversexed, undereducated, and largely unseen, unless they are committing heinous acts of violence.

No young adult started off as a 4 yr child who wanted to be violent, but their is something in their enviornment that breeds this. More accurately, it is the absence of many things that causes this enviroment of violence, promiscuity, and poverty.

So, our challenge is to meet the need. Not our need for protection or our need to move further away from the problem. No, our challenge is first to identify the needs of areas where destruction and despair reign and then become the solution. "Justice is first an issue of Stewardship" says John Perkins, the legendary head of the Christian Community Development Association. In other words, God has given us what is needed to meet the needs of the least and lowest.

Can you take time today to think about the needs of those who are committing violence. I know that the American way to think about "locking them up", but entire generations of young men, particularly young African American men are locked up in prisons, without a change in the communities that they left. No, lets be part of the solution. Lets recognize that some of the violence represents illegitimate means to fulfill legitimate needs.

Pray this if you feel challenged today:


My Lord, You said that whatever I do for the least of these, I have done unto you. Forgive me for ignoring you when you were hungry. Forgive me for making you invisible when you were homeless and begging. Forgive me for avoiding you when you were addicted to crack and needed someone just to affirm you. Open my eyes to see the need and move my heart to act so that I may be a blessing to my community and to you. Amen

Pastor M Traylor