Special to the Register & Bee
The city of Danville’s coordinator for youth services and gang violence prevention has written a book that provides churches and faith-based organizations with an understanding of the motives and origins of gangs from a Christian perspective.
In his book, “Gangs vs. Kingdom: Battle for the Next Generation,” Robert David also provides evidence-based strategies for these groups to make a change in the lives of youths affiliated with gangs.
“Over time, I realized that gangs operate under a trinity just as Christians operate under a Trinity,” David said. “For gang members, their God is money. Their Jesus or their Messiah is their OG [Original Gangster] because whatever instruction they receive comes from their OG or leader.”
“Their Holy Spirit — which will comfort them or come to their aid — is other gang members.”
David said organizations must understand that violent and deviant behaviors are the outward expression of a gang’s commitment to their Trinity.
“I use this concept of the Trinity so that faith-based organizations can see that it’s going to take more than a hot dog supper during which you tell them to get out of their gang,” David said. “To tell a young person entrenched in a gang to get out of the gang is the same as trying to tell you or me to stop worshipping God and stop believing in Jesus as your Lord and savior.”
He continued, saying, “For these youths to make a change in their lives there has to be a conversion like you would convert from another religion.”
Faith-based organizations must first develop a relationship with these youths, and they must understand the history of urban gangs and how they became glamorized. David details this history in the book.
“If faith-based organizations don’t give young people a place to operate in their purpose, then gangs will,” David said. “That’s the battle. If we don’t find a relevant way for young to manifest who they are — and to be able to look past some of their indiscretions because they don’t look like us or act like us — then these young people are going to go to the street. The gangs facilitate that.”
The 90-page book is available on Amazon as a paperback and Kindle eBook.
David joined the city on June 11, 2018, as its first youth services and gang violence prevention coordinator. Since then, he has implemented programs such as Project Imagine, which is a training and employment program designed to give youths with a gang connection a future off the streets by providing them with a paid work experience and mentoring while on the job.
Before coming to Danville, he served as a juvenile court counselor with the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, a community gang liaison in Rockingham, North Carolina, and a probation officer in California.