Seventeen people were injured by gunfire last Sunday night (Nov. 22) during a block party in the Upper Ninth Ward of New Orleans. Rev. Troy Lawrence Sr. of Reaping the Harvest, a Full Gospel Baptist Church on Dauphine Street in the Lower Ninth Ward, spoke to R&E about gun violence last summer at a peace festival sponsored by the city:
PASTOR TROY LAWRENCE SR. (Reaping the Harvest): As being a pastor in this day and time you can’t be in the pulpit, you have to be out of the pulpit. Cause the problem isn’t in the church. It’s on the outside of the church. We have to be more active in the community. I do have a message for young men. And, the message is really simple. You know, we have to trust God. When we get to the place where we trust him, we’ll serve him. We just have to not look back but look forward. If we can get the people to think different, they’ll do something different. They will never do nothing different if they never think different. We have to make sure in order for the kids to change, the parents have to change. Because they have to see it in the parents. And the kids wanna follow but if they have nothing to follow, they’re gonna follow what they see in the street. They’ve been trained through friends, they’ve been trained through peer pressure, picking up a knife, picking up a gun, through violence. When we can train them on a spiritual level now we’re bringing them back to the basics. We must know what our kids doing, where they at. We must get involved with the kids because that’s what this is about. I tell you that if we can change the kids, we can have a better world. But it starts with the parents. And, that’s my message to the parents and to the adults. We just gotta come together and let it be about the kids. If we can save the kids, we can save this next generation.