Real Repentance?

READING JIM WALLIS' article, "A Time to Heal, A Time to Build," repentance came to mind over and over. The article and interviews were both achingly hopeful and troubling.

The recent [regional] gang summit meeting in Minneapolis/St. Paul was shunned by most of the political and community establishment because it seemed to be a reproach to those who had spent time helping provide children and communities with positive role models and programs. In the call-in shows and public radio interviews that followed the Twin Cities summit, I heard African-American voices outraged that the white media would anoint criminals as their leaders and spokespeople, after years of downplaying public representatives elected by their community.

How can the older brothers and sisters take the "return of the prodigal" and turn it into a party, a time of reunion, a time of shared vision, and a time of recommitment? This can only happen if the gang strongmen move soon to show their good faith with clear courageous steps to stop the drug dealing and the violence within their spheres of influence. Otherwise, those in the African-American community, and the concerned and supportive middle-class communities (African-American and otherwise) will see the gang truces as an expedient: toning down the violence because it is "bad for business" and building political support to reduce the effectiveness of the police. The prodigal son in Jesus' story was at a point of complete repentance on his return.

Jim Albers

St. Paul, Minnesota

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Sojourners Magazine November 1993
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