Until He Comes
It was a cold evening in November. The first snow had fallen during the day, leaving a snow blanket covering on the grass, trees, and roof tops. Dressed warmly, Pat Long lay on her couch reminiscing.
She lay thinking about the conversation she had with her niece Sara, a special education teacher in the New York City public school system. Pat remembered Sara, exasperated, saying “With so much happening, what are we to do? We have active shooter drills and detectors at doors entering the school. It’s like always being on alert. It’s more stress than I bargained for in the classroom. What are we to do? We are in the last days.” Her Aunt Pat replied. “Believers in the church have been saying we were in the last days for almost 2,000 years; and we’re still here. We need to do what we need to do, so we can live in safety and peace.”
On the radio and television news another shooting was being reported. Pat thought to herself, “When will this come to an end? – Car hijackings and shootings leaving people terrorized and grieving.” “When will law enforcement connect local law enforcement with satellite Intelligence information to prevent these things from happening”. She thought to herself, “ Surely Homeland Security could deal with these acts of domestic terrorism spreading across the United States.
Pat remembered how about forty years ago there was a problem with gun violence. She was a social worker in the South Bronx of New York City. As an administrator, she was involved setting policies and developing programs for homeless and adjudicated youth. She remembered how there were the threats of gang influence and gun violence – killings increasing in the state of New York. Word was that gang members would be coming into New York. Part of their initiation rites was killing people – shooting them. A baby in a crib had already been shot by a bullet coming through a window. The threat was real.
Pat thought about the church she attended when she was in the South Bronx. It was a small bi-lingual congregation with the liturgy sung in Spanish and English. She remembered the smell of coffee and the cookies during fellowship time. As she thought about the members – she remembered Luis, a teenage baptized Christian, who got caught up in gang violence. His parents sent him away to be with family in Puerto Rico. It was a time of saving Luis in a concrete way.
The threat of violence was real. Communities of faith were in prayer; and people of faith and goodwill in communities and government came to a resolve to prevent violence. The New York State Division for Youth coordinated efforts with law enforcement. The results were people being arrested at every point of entry as they crossed state lines into New York. Whether they came by car or bus, train, airplane, or ferry, those with pre-meditated murder and influencing of minors in their plans were arrested and put in jail, and then in prison. In addition a truce between existing gangs in a community was put into effect across the country. Violence prevention programs were put in place; and youth violence decreased. Pat said to herself. “Here we are, almost forty years later. What is taking so long? If we don’t have a law, make a law.”
Pat remembered how people moved to end youth violence – detaining those who perpetuated violence, and providing violence prevention programming throughout the City of New York.
Pat rose from the couch, and made something hot to drink. She reached for her evening meditations. After reading the Scripture and meditation, she prayed, asking God “What more should I do?” She was still. A thought came into her mind and connected with her heart. “Tomorrow I will contact my government representatives and try to meet with them or send a letter. I’ll talk to some friends as well.” She said to herself – “I have already voluntarily worked with the community on comprehensive violence prevention strategies. I have done my part. What else is there for me to do before Jesus comes? Thank God His coming is nearer now than when I first believed. Praise You LORD God. Amen. Come Lord Jesus.”
Michele P. Ellison, A.C.S.W., M.Div., a daughter of the civil rights movement in the United States, is a public theologian, transformational speaker, writer and President of Life-Long Lessons, LLC (“Tools for a Lifetime”). A Benjamin E. Mays Fellow and P.E.O. recipient, she is listed in International Who’s Who of Professionals and Who’s Who Among Human Services Professionals. She is presently completing her Doctor of Ministry in Creative Writing and Public Theology at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. For more information: https://www.life-longlessons.com and LinkedIn. Contact: [email protected].