Guest Post: “From Gangs to God”

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From Gangs to God

By Sheri Rose Shepherd
Bestselling Author and Bible Life Coach
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I once heard a pastor say, “If you are struggling to respect your husband, find the strength to respect him as your brother in the Lord.” That comment really woke me up as I realized that none of us really deserves honor or respect except the Lord. Honor and respect are powerful tools to rebuild a broken society, but how do we show respect and honor to those who act disrespectfully and do dishonorable things? What can we do to cultivate honor and respect between men and women again, and how can we influence our children to live in a way that is honorable to God and respectful of people?Yes, our men may have done many things that certainly do not deserve to be honored. But they are God’s children just like we are, and they are imperfect just like we are. We women are not responsible for their dishonorable actions, but one way we can each help rebuild our broken men is to treat them like the men they want to become.

Years ago my husband and I owned a Christian production company, which produced talent showcases for aspiring models, actors, and singers. But more important than exposing these potential stars to Hollywood was the ministry time that took place during the week of rehearsals and workshops, as we would share God’s love and plan of salvation for their lives.

During one particular showcase in Seattle, a group of gang members hung around outside the room where we were holding the auditions. They made fun of each of the participants as he or she walked out of the audition. It was obvious they were there to cause trouble. I struggled with fear and anger as I prayed for protection over the young adults walking out to their cars. Then something happened as I made eye contact with one of the boys through the glass doors I was standing behind. My heart began to break with compassion, and my faith overpowered my frustration. I thought, Maybe these boys have never seen men and women honor and respect one another. Maybe they just need someone to treat them like they were made for more.

God grabbed hold of my mother’s heart, and I began to look at these boys through different eyes. I realized I didn’t know their pasts, their parents, or their present circumstances, but I did know they were truly loved by God, no matter how disrespectfully they were behaving.

I took a step of faith and invited these boys to spend a week taking acting workshops at no charge. Their first response was, “Why would anyone do something for us?” However they couldn’t resist the offer.

Each day when they would walk into the room for their workshop, I would stand to my feet, walk over to greet them at the door, and treat them like guests of honor. The first day I took them around and introduced them to each of our staff members. The next day I decided to make lunch for them. Although I did not like the way they acted or the words that were coming out of their mouths, I decided I would make every effort to use whatever influence I had as a woman to inspire them to live honorable lives. To my surprise the power of prayer, honor, and respect paid off as I witnessed these boys begin to transform. Not only did they begin to act differently, but I learned a valuable lesson that week: honor is not something someone has to earn. It is an attitude I need to learn to give to all those God has created.

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