Religion

Engage & Tranform

Pastors collaborate for book with lessons in reaching and impacting troubled youth

Pastors Dave Burrows, Carlos Reid and Eric Fox have each brought differing dynamics and perspectives into one book with the goal to try to put The Bahamas in a position to save more young people.

Burrows has penned “Reaching The Streets: Lessons in Reaching and Impacting Troubled Youth from the Streets and Gangs, Volume 1 – The Essentials” with contributions from Reid and Fox.

The book, they said, is a practical guide to engaging and transforming troubled youth from three of the foremost practitioners of street and gang ministry. They describe it as work based upon proven strategies that have worked in transforming the lives of troubled youth into productive citizens and role models. The information learned from the book they said will allow people to join in the fight and assist people wanting to impact the street and gang community. It’s a book that they said consists of proven and documented strategies that have resulted in turnarounds for many former gang members.

“What society has concluded in some ways is that these young people are expendable, that there is no hope of saving them and that the problem is so bad that people throw up their hands and said nothing they can do. This book shows there are things that can be done and you don’t have to be someone from that background or a specialist,” said Burrows.

“We’re training people to learn how to provide CPR,” said the senior pastor and president of Bahamas Faith Ministries International.

Burrows said many people are afraid and don’t understand how to deal with young people. Once they have the information, which they speak to in the book, he said it makes it easier.

“A lot of people are afraid and don’t understand how to deal with young people. Once they have this information, it makes it easier. One of the most important things when dealing with guys from the streets is to know that there are two people that you are dealing – a guy with the nickname ‘scarface’ but with a real [government] name. Trying to reach ‘scar face’ is difficult, because he has a reputation he has to live up to, but if you can reach [him through his government name], then you stand a chance.”

Burrows, one of the pioneers of “street” and “gang” ministry, having risen from the streets himself to become a global youth and family ministry specialist, consultant and change strategist, said one of the tips shared within the book is that relationships have to be built, and that they speak to the many avenues they have used that have proven to be successful.

“Everyone has a family and interests, and, in some cases, you may have to use the courts to build relationships,” he said.

He said the way he, Reid and Fox achieve success is through community and school outreach. And that he has gone so far as to invite guys to his house, so that he could build a relationship with them. He said that changed the dynamic completely.

“Sometimes, we think that these guys are different from us but, in most cases, they are the same as us, but just caught up in what we call the ‘game’. Even though they may be violent or dangerous, you are not the target.”

While he acknowledges that people understandably have fears of inviting people into their sphere, he said that is why he, Reid and Fox decided to share the principles in the book.

After a meeting the trio had last year, after a spate of violence, he said they discussed the fact that there were very few people working with troubled people from the streets and very few people who had success in the arena.

“We realized that all of us have a wealth of information and that what happens in The Bahamas is that people doing the same thing don’t communicate,” said Burrows. “We felt we would be stronger if we came together to communicate.”

He said they acknowledged their successes, and decided they would come together to train young others to be able to do the same. Writing the guide that people could learn from was the result.

“In The Bahamas, there is very little that is written when it comes to Bahamian experience and training and passing on knowledge, so we decided the best thing we could do was a writing that would serve as a guide for persons who want to reach out to troubled young people and gang members. It can be scary, but, once you understand the principles, it’s not as challenging as it seems,” said Burrows.

“Each of us brings a different dynamic and perspective as it relates to the subject matter,” said Reid, senior pastor at Kingdom Summit Ministries.

“In our country, not many people are going into the highways and byways. They’re afraid. We brought our collective talents together to create a manuscript to assist, help and prepare people to go into the areas, particularly the church,” said Reid who does not shy away from the fact that he was a career criminal and is now one of the most respected agents of change in The Bahamas.

Today, he looks at himself as a “solution” and said God has placed him on this earth to effect change. He believes that when you live in darkness, you can either curse the darkness or light a candle.

For Fox, it meant a lot to him that they were able to come together to bring out the book which he said is a positive.

“It shows that we can come together to reach others,” said Fox who has been working with individuals that have difficulty dealing with anger for more than three decades and as a consultant with Urban Renewal, a program with the Ministry of Social Services.

“I deal with behind the scenes, with the anger as an anger management consultant. Ninety percent of people live out of their subconscious and most are doing what they’re programmed to do. Most of these young men have been traumatized. A lot of them are the product of their environment. You can only respond with what you know and have been taught. Lack in their life leaves them susceptible to gang violence. So, how do we deal with these behind-the-scenes issues and not put on a Band-Aid? All of us have long-time experience working in this field. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. We have everything we need to do what needs to be done,” said Fox.

It took approximately four months for them to put it together with each person making their contribution.

“I got information from them on what they found to be success strategies. We collaborated and put best practices together.”

Burrows said the book, which is the first collaboration for the trio, is a tool for churches, teachers, guidance counselors, law enforcement, civic groups, business people, parents – basically everyone.

“This is like a practical style. Here is what happens, here is what you need to know, here is how to get started and these are the things that will bring future success.”

Burrows said the book offers lots of real-life examples that they all had and how they dealt with them.

“We each talk about different situations and scenarios, examples and stories that everyone can learn from. The good thing about it is we have a lot of success stories.”

While many people may say Burrows, Reid and Fox are in a different era, Burrows said the culture is a “game” and the game does not change. He said equipment, tactics and culture change, but the “game” remains the same.

“The change that has happened over time is the way people interact and the way they carry out violence and the equipment they have. Way back in the day, people would wait until they can catch you in a location at night, but now, they have a new mantra on the street which is onsite; it does not matter where you are, or who you are around.”

The first collaboration by the trio is practical and not lengthy. They give basic information which can be followed up and built on in future volumes.

Burrows said the trio plans to make themselves available to different entities with training of people to get acquainted and established with their book, and that intervention and outreach will mean a lot more people working on the problem.

“Reaching The Streets: Lessons in Reaching and Impacting Troubled Youth from the Streets and Gangs, Volume 1 – The Essentials” will be released on Tuesday, February 21. The book will be available at One Rib Publications on Robinson Road, Teen Challenge, The Hope Centre, and Bahamas Faith Ministries.

Burrows is proud of their effort.

“It is comforting to know that as we get older, we’re not going to leave the earth and not make a difference. I’m proud we entered the arena and consciously made a difference,” he said.

“Reaching The Streets: Lessons in Reaching and Impacting Troubled Youth from the Streets and Gangs, Volume 1 – The Essentials” is Burrows’ 18th publication. It is Reid’s fifth publication.

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Shavaughn Moss

Shavaughn Moss joined The Nassau Guardian as a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor. Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics. Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.

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