Leaving gang life for church
The Christian Science Monitor has a good article up on its website about the phenomenon of gang members leaving the gangs based on conversion in evangelical churches. Others have reported on this happening as well. The CSM article is titled God vs. gang? For some ex-gangsters in El Salvador, rehab happens at church. Here is an excerpt:
More than 400 ex-members say that evangelical groups have helped them leave the gangs – a drop in the bucket here, where as many as 60,000 gang members control large parts of the country. But in a society where gangs are so deeply entrenched and government attempts to curb the violence have often failed, some churches’ experiences suggest that addressing the basic needs that many young people hope to find in gang life – acceptance, belonging, stability – can also be key to getting them out....
A lack of institutional support for, and even suspicion of, groups trying to engage with gang members and help set them up on a different path looms particularly large. Rehabilitation groups are often accused of being “gang sympathizers,” says Jeanne Rikkers, a human rights activist who has worked with gangs in prisons through a number of nongovernmental organizations. You’re treated “as if you yourself are a gang member,” she says.Read the rest of the article here. In a country where scarcely any efforts to rehabilitate gang members have taken hold, even a small success by evangelical pastors can generate international headlines.