Making Jesus the homeboy for inner-city youth

Sunday, July 5, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 4:27 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 6, 2009

A young girl came up to me recently and said, “You’re my homeboy, Major KK.” When I asked what she meant, she joyfully replied, “You look like my dad, and you are cool!”

I wondered if this young lady knew that Jesus wants to be her homeboy; someone whom she can talk to and have fellowship with personally and spiritually. If more of our inner-city kids knew that Jesus is the homeboy of reconciliation and salvation, there would be fewer destructive and sinful conditions throughout our communities because of their relationship with him.


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I am sure that the 12 disciples of Jesus were reconciled to him by the strong relationship they had with him. Jesus became their spiritual homeboy in the midst of uncertain times as he walked the face of this earth, reconnecting and reclaiming the lost souls. Today he wants to be that Holy Homeboy to our lost youth who live in the city: “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life,” John 8:12, New International Bible.

Where God leads, we should follow. He is a friend who will never leave us nor forsake us. We need his help to pilot our youth to his gospel side. Let’s not be selfish and think that it’s you who can save them — you can’t, but Christ can. Only through my homeboy Jesus’ leading can they be rescued from their unbalanced lifestyles throughout our inner-city neighborhoods. My homeboy Christ is the leader of all things in heaven and on earth. His guiding hand has the power to keep kids you love so dearly, which leads to the path of eternal life.

Our inner-city youth need to know the saving grace and life-changing power that my homeboy Jesus Christ can give. As violent behavior and unacceptable dealings continue to rise, we must encourage our youth to stay focused on developing a productive relationship with Jesus Christ not with fear, but with faith. "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me," Philippians 3:12, New International Bible. Every young person we meet, whether they live in the city or not, should represent a soul that Jesus wants to reclaim as his own, and wherever they are, we should go to them. William Booth, the founder of The Salvation Army, once said to The Christian Mission Magazine to The Salvationist in 1879, "We are a salvation people — this is our speciality — getting saved and keeping saved, and then getting somebody else saved, and then getting saved ourselves more and more."

I think that inner cities need my Homeboy (Jesus Christ) the most, because they are places where salvation has lost some glamour over the stresses of the world. We should desire to be an overcomer – one who has victory over the pitfalls and trials of today. I know it is only through life’s tests that I, like gold, am purified. My homeboy has endured the cross because he saw that through his suffering, his death on the cross, his resurrection and his coming again, those without hope would have a foundation for overcoming trials. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance,” James 1:2-3, New International Bible. Nothing is too BIG for God.

I believe wholeheartedly that it’s the assignment of every person who knows Christ as Lord to be increasingly active in a caring and redeeming ministry to our inner-city youth in one way or another. By giving them the spiritual tools, they can stand firm in the presence of temptation and peer pressure.

Yes, my homeboy JC is a firm foundation upon which we can stand. His spiritual firmness is as gentle as a shepherd to his sheep. So, don’t serve out of self-centeredness, but out of Christ-likeness and help our youth to make a right choice. 

Yes, we can cut through the circumstances that drag our inner-city youth into despair through Christly mentoring, Godly encouragment and by living out our salvation through the power of the Holy Spirit. Yes, we can replace the “junk food entertainment,” which characterizes our culture, with these spiritually nutritious alternatives. Let’s invest our time, demonstrate spiritual values and offer guidance with unlimited praise to my homeboy JC. Praising him day in and day out will produce limitless expressions of glory to the King, helping youth to know there’s no limit of applause they can give him. “Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws,” Psalm 119:164, New International Bible.  

If you know of inner-city youth who are in need of a positive role model, be a friend to them in their time of need and offer them my homeboy Jesus.  He has the power to be their “Great Provider.” “So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, 'On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided,'” Genesis 22:14, New International Bible.

Last of all, our community must be a link between our inner-city youth and a loving savior who can bind up the wounds of this generation and give them peace. So, let’s do our part and be catalysts for forgiveness, healing and eternal life through Jesus.  We have so much to gain on one hand, and on the other so many youth to lose. For me, there is no greater mission than to offer them my Homeboy Jesus Christ.

Let’s pray together: Lord, when I had nothing at all, you provided for me in a way that no one else could. As youth come to me for aid, help me provide them with the spiritual resources they need to overcome the emptiness of life. Just as You sent manna from heaven to your children in the wilderness, may I provide that same spiritual food to the youth of my community. May it be so, in Jesus' name. Amen.

Major K. Kendall Mathews is the regional coordinator for The Salvation Army.

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