Someone needs to tell these kids. They’re all gonna die…
“Medic-7,” the dispatcher announced. “We’ve got a subject shot!” I grabbed my stethoscope and headed for the ambulance. Colorful images flashed through my mind as I climbed into the passenger seat. The dispatcher continued her voice high and sharp. “A teenaged male shot once in the head. Police officer on the scene requesting Code-3 response. Code-3.”
“10-4,” my partner responded jumping behind the wheel. “Medic-7 en route.”
I tried to calm myself as we hurried to the scene. Relax. You’ve been a medic a good long time. Surely by now you’ve seen it all. But as we pulled onto Hopkins Street and arrived on the scene, I felt my stomach tighten. My palms began to sweat. There’s just something unsettling about a young man with a bullet hole in the side of his head, his life blood spilling out all over the ground and a dangerous crowd pressing in on you demanding you get to work.
There was nothing we could do of course. He was already dead. But for the sake of our own skins and the fact that we were standing on their turf and outnumbered about a hundred to one, we made a good show of it. Loaded him up and moved to the truck assuring the angry crowd we would do our best to save him. Once clear of the scene, however, my partner killed the lights and sirens and slowed down to normal traffic. I stared into the victim’s lifeless eyes trying to guess his age. Eighteen years old, maybe? Nineteen? Oh, Lord, what a waste.
“Duke ER,” I said keying the radio mike. “I’m sorry but we’re bringing you a corpse. Another gang member. There’s nothing we can do.”
*What in the world is happening out there? It’s like warfare. The gang situation in our cities has never been worse. Drugs, robbery, murder—they’re as common on our streets as rain. And I often find myself angry, craving righteous revenge. After all, those kids are killers. Punks! We should just put ‘em all away and be done with them, right?
Well that might be the thing to do if we had nothing more to offer them, but we do.
This is Christmas. The time we celebrate Jesus—the light of the world. And I can personally attest to that light. If it weren’t for him I would be lost, living in darkness, with no hope for the future and no idea which way to go. But thank God for Jesus Christ, and for the people who cared enough to lead me his way. He saved my life. And if he can do it for me, he can do it for them. So it occurs to me, why don’t we tell them about Jesus too?
Now I realize that gangs are here to stay. I’m not naïve enough to believe they’ll disappear. Shootings will still occur. People will always die. But sending those kids to prison, just locking them away, that won’t solve the problem. And one thing is certain: they will never know the truth if no one tells them. So I think it’s time for a revival. Time to stop talking and start acting. The gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation. Are we using it? Are you? Let’s take our streets captive for Jesus. Take the gospel out there and see what God can do.
*Please join me in praying for a revival in the city where I work. Pray that God will organize a group of people with a burden for the gangs. Pray for power and protection. Pray for opportunity. And pray that when the time comes we might find the courage to risk it all for Christ.
Lord, we need a revival. Every one of these kids is going to die. Send someone to tell them before it’s too late. Send someone soon!
Pat Patterson is a novelist, a paramedic, and an instructor of Emergency Medical Science. His stories are true, based on real experiences from the streets of Durham, North Carolina where he has served as a paramedic since 1992.