All my Facebook activities this week led up to this. The churches in Bermuda need to do more for the Black community in Bermuda. Let me rephrase that...the churches in Bermuda need to do better.
I’ll explain. But before I do I have to make a disclaimer. I'm an atheist, I would prefer if everyone was and I don't quite feel comfortable with the idea of Black Christians.
This is going to be an interesting.
There’s been this common theme on social media.
“The disrespectful little fools need some more Jesus in their lives.”
“Back in my day, we got licks and we went church four times a week.”
“These kids are spoiled; we lived in a one room shack and we turned out okay.”
The blame for gang violence in Bermuda is being placed solely on the youth in Bermuda. Like those youth raised themselves, like they educated themselves, like they were the sole providers of their own morality.
Here’s the case of Sam**.
Sam, (who is now serving a life sentence for murder). A good mate of mine; I’ve known him my entire life and it hurts me to see his future as lost. However, we all make decisions.
Sam is a prime example of a village raising a child. He attended cub scouts, went to church every week and participated in youth sporting clubs. At one point in his youth he was a relatively feared and dangerous young striker. We stayed close throughout the years, and one of Sam’s best qualities is that he is quite a loyal friend. Where did it go wrong for him?
Sam was in the first edition of the now-defunct Bermuda Sun’s “Baby Brothers Club” highlighting the young men who had been shot after an older relative had been.
It's quite an eye opening read, and even though this was written sometime ago, many of the men in the Baby Brothers Club are dead or in jail. Many older Bermudians don't quite understand how it feels to be shot at. They don't know how it feels to see your loved ones gunned down on a weekly basis.
They’ve never been on the losing side in a gang war, and many of them don't have the same loyalty as Sam. He did what he felt would protect his loved ones, he did what he felt he needed to do to bring justice to their deaths. I'm not glorifying his role in Bermuda’s gang violence epidemic, nor am I attempting to justify murders. We have to understand that those of us who live INSIDE of society, don't understand what occurs OUTSIDE of society and some of our claims are not justified.
So what does all this have to do with the Christian Church in Bermuda. Good question. Everything.
The other night my girlfriend and I were walking my son along CedarBridge Academy’s property for our evening exercise. As we walked we past my mother’s car, my son shouted: “Nai Nai’s car” so we went looking for heri.
We ended up “sneaking” into the recent “Dance and Mime gospel show” that was going on. It is quite amazing to see the production that they put on that night. What was even more amazing was the amount of professionals who were in attendance.
These churches in Bermuda are ready-made institutions filled with professionals who can play a vital role in repurposing the youth in our community. But it has to be from a secular perspective. Most of these men have had Jesus shoved down their throats their entire lives and that's actually part of their problem. Instead of having Tuesday night Bible studies, the churches should have “Teach a gangster to cook day”.
I don't literally mean teach a gangster how to cook day, but something of that nature, where they can build skills that make them employable and help them to develop in their everyday lives. A large chunk of these guys can't read so let's teach them.
Do you know how much easier your life becomes when you can read the ingredients label on the food you purchase? A large chunk of these guys don't fully understand how money works, they don't understand credit, statutory interest rates or even things as basic as how payroll tax works.
Now of course there are people who are going to say, “Well we can't get them to come to church so how can we teach them?”
Go to them!
You go to Princes Street and you knock on doors. You go down the Garrison and ask questions. You go to Somerset and Killa Hill, you go down Back Bush and Ord Road, you actively engage the youth. One of my earliest memories of Dale Butler was when I was 16, and had freshly dropped out from Bermuda Institute.
He was on Ord Road Paget, in an area we call Four Corners, with about four or five volunteers and El James. They had folders with them, Dale would shout to the top of his lungs, “Who wants a job?” and who ever said yes he would shout, “What do you want to do?”
In the folders he and his volunteers carried were job application forms. They helped each one of us fill them out, even going as far to allow some of us to use their email addresses if we didn't have one of our own to use.
Later that year Mr. Butler got me my first job waiting tables at L’oriental, where I learned skills that have literally allowed me to never been unemployed.
This is an example of actively engaging the youths.
More churches need to get on board.