The Church represents the moral voice of the community. The first thing the church must do — along with all other voices in the community at the same time — is to say “no.” The killing must stop.
Churches must become aware of the community that exits beyond the sanctuary walls. The gangs believe they own the streets because they never see anyone else (the church) there. They feel free to perpetrate their violence because they are the only force on the streets. As churches, we must get out into the street of our communities on a regular basis. We have to get to know our neighbors, especially the youth. We must create and sustain opportunities to demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ to them, and to share His Gospel with them in love. For power to change is found in His Gospel.
Finally, we must be diligent to pray. With power, we must use a more powerful weapon than any gang member ever dreamed of possessing. We must pray first for ourselves, that God would give us His heart for these lost dying youth, and we must never stop praying for them.
(Pastor Johnson is also chaplain of the Oceanside Police Department.)