When Are the Numbers Enough?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

By the numbers:

  • Seven shootings within 48 hours this week, in the same communities.
  • Three murdered as a result of those shootings.
  • As of this time last year, Washington, D.C., had 44 homicides, compared to 47 homicides at present time (May 19, 2016), according to Metropolitan Police Department crime data.
  • D.C.’s homicide totals for 2015 was 162 people murdered.

As a D.C. resident, I remember being abhorred last year by the almost daily news casts reporting of another murder in the District. Today, unfortunately, it seems the problem is increasing.

What’s worse: this week’s shootings occurred in broad daylight, averaging between the hours of 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Schools would be letting out around 3 p.m., and as Natalie Williams, Advisory Neighborhood Commission chairperson for Southeast D.C.’s Ward 8 told NBC4 this week, “It’s a shame that we have kids who are getting out of school right now, and when they come up all they are familiar with is these yellow tapes.”

Williams also said that “people are afraid to simply live,” given the increased violence. Community meeting after community meeting, neighborhood rallies and an increased police presence in these high-crime communities has not done much to stop the violence or quell residents’ fears for their own personal safety.

In fact, shootings that typically occur during the wee morning hours of 1 a.m. to 3 a.m., are now happening in broad daylight. A full disregard for human life and no concern for the many who will be impacted by the loss of life, whether family member, friend, student passing by yellow tape, residents or the news viewer. The collateral damage has reverberating effects.

crime scene tape

Why do I write about this?  Because even as gut-wrenching and sobering as the numbers are (at least to me), when will the numbers be enough to move more people, particularly Christians, to make resolving this issue a priority?

I ask this, as a burden the Lord has placed on my heart in mentoring D.C. youth, many who between the ages of 15-24 are either perpetrators of or victims of violent crime. I spoke this week with the executive director of a Southeast D.C. youth mentoring faith-based organization. The FBO has been active in its immediate community since its founding in 1995. The FBO has a number of business, community, individual and nonprofit stakeholders who support its work. Yet, even in all of this, I asked the executive director, “Where are the gaps? Why an increase in crime and not a decrease in this area, particularly as it pertains to youth?”

His response to me was simple and sadly, something I already knew:

“Many people have not made the youth a priority. We need more caring people and more caring institutions to care about the issues and put egos aside.”

I will also add that Christ is our only hope in transforming hearts, homes, neighborhoods and communities. A number of folks in the Body of Christ hesitate to share about Christ, concerned that they may offend someone rather than make way for their spiritual healing.

Outside of it being the seat of federal government and its highly flocked to and visited monuments, museums, other tourist attractions, and its four and five-star restaurants, Washington, D.C. suffers the same societal ills as other urban cities rife with crime and violence. Many of Washington, D.C.’s neighborhoods that are low-income, have high rates of homelessness and underserved in resources also see an influx of drug trafficking, thefts, home invasions, spikes in violence, gang activity, etc.

Washington DC skyline

D.C. is a wellspring for many churches, faith-based organizations, nonprofits, community based organizations and interest groups who set up shop in the nation’s capital to provide programs and services to address such social ills within the city and nationwide.

So why do the problems persist? While evil will always be with us until Christ’s return, it requires that the Body of Christ truly be engaged in their God-given callings, standing as the standard in the communities and domains God has called them to. Some will say, “We need more money, more resources to do this work” (God will provide).

But in fact, we need more hearts to stand as salt, light and truth to stem the tide of decay. It requires us to prioritize such matters and to be INTERESTED. The Lord has led me to write and speak recently on the need for many more in the Body of Christ to be INTERESTED and to serve where they are placed. As told to us in Matthew 9:37, The harvest (the opportunities) is plentiful but the workers are few. 

When will the numbers be enough for you? Where has God given you a burden to serve in the things that break His heart? 

If you’re already walking in this and serving in obedience in the lane God has called you to, THANK YOU. If you have sat on the sidelines hoping the problems will simply go away, or you hope someone else will step in or you’re praying that Jesus will soon return to snatch you out of this chaos, please rethink your position.

LISTEN: Meanwhile, I invite you to listen to our short message on “Interesting or Interested?”

THANK YOU to many of you who because you ARE INTERESTED and believe in what God has called our ministry to do, you have contributed to our “Bring Godliness to D.C. and Society” campaign. You are helping in our work to reach the lost with truth.

Heavenly Father, help us to always be INTERESTED in and make a priority of what you’ve placed in our hearts to do. Lord, I pray we desire to be obedient to what you’ve called us to do and not deviate from or short change it for the lesser things of this world. As Christians, we need to spend more time being interested in others.  As a dear brother in Christ said, “When God gives us a burden for something, we need to look in the mirror. More often, WE are the answer to prayer.”  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

God bless you,

Nicole

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.

 

Sleep With the Doors Unlocked??

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Who can imagine or remember it? I’m reading a book set in 1940’s South Philadelphia in a Black, close-knit community. In that era and before, folks attended church services multiple days during the week. They were there morning, noon and night WITH ALL of their six, seven or eight children in tow. Whether a Sunday service, bible study, choir performance, bake sale, community meeting, wedding or funeral, church was THE place to be.

In that era and in my grandmother’s day as a child (she’s now 100, God bless her!), these words were spoken by her and others: “Yeah, we used to sleep with the doors unlocked.” Huh?? Furthermore, she’d say, “We also used to sleep on the porch and nobody would bother us.” My grandmother lives in Kansas (where I’m from) and not the streets of Philadelphia, and was born in Oklahoma.

In comparing the geographical and demographic differences of Philly and Kansas and thinking of that era of 1940s and before, my mind cannot firmly conceive this possibility of sleeping with doors unlocked. It sounds crazy to me—leaving your doors unlocked—at night OR during the day. Sadly, those of us who are Gen Xers or Gen Y/Millenials cannot recall such a freedom or security in our lifetime. If mom and dad had to run an errand and my brother and I were home, they’d sternly look at us and say, “Lock the doors,” and “don’t answer the door for anyone.”

We lived in a predominately White, Kansas suburban/country neighborhood and school district. Our neighborhood was pin-drop quiet at night (except for chirping crickets) and relatively quiet by day with the exception of someone mowing their lawn, or the jubilant squeals of kids racing each other up and down the road on their bikes.  Even in those carefree days, we were told to “lock up.”

Sadly, even in as much as we hope, we will never return to a time of, “sleeping with the doors unlocked.” Such a time is non-existent. What happened? As I mentioned in my opening, communities were close-knit. People knew each other’s children, knew each other’s business, rallied together on issues that adversely affected the community, made do with what they had and were joyful in it. Their fellowship and commune with God was within and throughout, permeating their lives, neighbor’s households and community. Yes, as cozy and Pollyanna-ish as this sounds, make no mistake: those days birthed injustices, violence and devastating family secrets.

Psalm 91-2 sunset

But perhaps the closer ties to God and community strengthened them to hold up and hold each other up. Now, particularly those of us living in fast-paced urban communities, we may or may not know well our neighbors and certainly don’t know the intricacies of their lives, and maybe we’re not interested. And while parents were taking all of their six or eight kids to church in those earlier eras, unless the family is in regular fellowship with the Lord, you might see their one or two children at church or the parents may simply drop them off and return home.

Thinking of “sleeping with the doors unlocked,” I look fondly on those who experienced that security. For those of us who never experienced it and frankly never will, can we ever abide in a daily peace, comfort or security that will keep us steady and unnerved in these progressively evil days? For those reading this who are of that “sleep with the doors unlocked” generation, can you ever have peace and security again? Joyfully, yes.

The key is: trusting in God’s Word, His Promises and remaining in daily, regular commune with Him to where His Peace “that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), carries and steadies us. Praise God!

I invite you to read Psalm 91 on God’s promises made toward those who trust in Him when fear threatens your security and peace.

May you trust in the Lord to keep you and cover you and may we share His Peace with others,

Nicole

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.