|This book is must reading for anyone who wants to do something about the problem of gangs in America--and any other city in the world.|
I'm taking the summer off from blogging, to recharge my batteries, and this will be my last post until September. But before I close for the season, I'm excited to write a post about something I've wanted to let you know of for a long time: the work of Hope Now For Youth, founded by Rev. Roger Minassian, in 1994.
This organization works with young men, ages 16 to 24, to bring them out of gangs into productive life, through caring relationships and employment. In Fresno, California, where it started, Hope Now For Youth has placed 2,000 youth, most of whom had criminal records, in jobs with area businesses. They have had an 85% success rate, and an 8% recidivism rate. Almost all of these young men were on parole or probation, with more than 65% being school dropouts.
At the heart of Hope Now is the conviction that caring relationships are essential to long-term personal change, and real hope for the future comes through faith in the God of the Bible. Add honest work to this mix, and you've got a winning combination.
This is a cost-effective approach to dealing with juvenile crime. In the USA, it costs $50,000 per year to incarcerate and adjudicate a young man in trouble. In contrast, it costs just over $5,000 for Hope Now to build a relationship with a troubled young man, mentor him, prepare him for job interviews, and find work placement.
Sorry, but you have to either be a gang member or have a criminal record to qualify for help!
This is theology of work at its finest. If you're looking for some great summer reading, read Gangs To Jobs.
As stated in the Hope Now website, "We are motivated by out Lord Jesus Christ's concern for the poor, the fatherless, and those oppressed by violence. Through deed and word, we strive to present Jesus Christ as the hope for life and life eternal. Almighty God as the heavenly Father who cares far more than we do, and the Church as the loving family which will never abandon you...To fall short of providing loving encouragement and gainful employment for any young man who sincerely desires our assistance in leaving the streets is to consign him to prison or death. God helping us, we will not fail to always offer life."
Onward and upward.