Following the tragic increase in knife and gun related murders, particularly among young people in London, we asked one of our workers to share her concerns and hopes for this generation.
How does the reported violent crime in London amongst teenagers make you feel?
As a mother of a teenager, it is quite scary looking at what is happening to our young people, knowing that my son can be affected by this directly and indirectly. Already this year he's been affected by losing a distant friend to a murder. He was shocked and very shaken by this.
My concern is, if this happens closer to home, he could become angry and question or maybe even reject God. So, I am constantly talking with him about life, how to respond not react and about sin and choice. As a single parent, I am also concerned that he has no male role model in the home. Although he has a relationship with his father, it isn’t a very active one. He does have a relationship with males at church, which is great but sometimes he can feel that he's a burden to them.
As a mission worker I feel that we need to do more to come along side our young people. I see their behaviour as a rejection of authority, a cry for help, anger, bitterness, a lack of maturity and an inability to process their emotions. They need Jesus and we need to help bring him to them in a way that they can engage with, not a 'one size fits all' stance.
How do you feel the Church can respond?
The Church needs to respond by speaking out.
Going to these young people, rather than waiting for young people to come to church. Let's be more creative in how we present church. Gone are the days when just putting on a youth service was enough. These young people are constantly being over stimulated with video games, 24 hour TV, mobile phones etc and therefore we need to find different ways to engage with them.
The Church needs to be active and visible in the community at all levels on a day-to-day basis speaking with and interacting with the youth. We need to work with the police, as well as families, trying to bring peace between the groups as well as opening our doors to be a safe place.
Hopefully we can help the young people involved in this violence understand their choices and own up to their choices, then walk alongside them as they reap the consequences.
What can we be praying for?
Pray for more Christians to talk with young people to build relationships with them and take an active interest in their lives.
Pray the church will not be afraid to speak out against injustice and help young people accept responsibility for their actions.
More Early Intervention programmes like the one I am involved in running in conjunction with TLG to be introduced.
More Operation Forgiveness projects to be run in schools and churches.
We need to pour into our youth like never before and remember to give them hope while remembering they are the future adults and leader of this city.