Can Dreams Come True?

A dream came to me. It was the mid-1990s. Most unusual things began to happen...

The violence in the cities has escalated enormously. Politically motivated crime bills are helpless to stop the growing carnage. The political, business, and media elites don’t have a

clue what to do. Church leaders are just as out of touch with and confused by the realities of life on the bottom of the society as are their secular counterparts. Without a vision, the people are perishing...literally.

Quite unexpectedly, a new voice emerges. Members of urban street gangs in a number of cities begin truces among themselves. "We just woke up," they say. Their language sounds remarkably like biblical conversion talk. Their efforts, first quite unconnected, begin to weave a pattern of gang truces across the country. Even more surprising, these urban youths invite some church people, whose record in the streets they trust, to become partners in trying to turn things around. An anti-violence movement begins to grow.

Both the young people and their church companions know they are facing a spiritual crisis. The violence goes deeper than the random, chaotic, and senseless destruction that paralyzes the nation with fear. The invisible violence of unjust structures, destructive social policies, and perverse values is at the heart of the problem.

The violence, they say, results from a spiritual and economic vacuum in their inner-city communities. An alternative vision is necessary. The young people and the churches begin to explore how the human, moral, and economic infrastructure that has been ripped out of vast urban territories can be put back together. They decide to begin at the grassroots, in the neighborhoods.

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Sojourners Magazine June 1994
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