12/2/13 Miguel 21
Please pray for Miguel, 21. Of all the people I have met on the streets, he is possibly the most likely to be or to cause another of Chicago’s homicide statistics. He was walking at a park, where I stopped after work and was about to reach out to him to initiate a Gospel conversation, when suddenly he doubled over to spit up. “Hey man, are you all right” I asked. When he finally got himself together, he told me he had just been jumped by six or seven teenage gangbangers, who thought he was in another gang, and had been punched in the gut before being able to break free and run. He was clearly pretty shaken up, but calmed down enough for me to ask “I was just about to ask you a very important question, though I’m not sure if you’re in a good state of mind to talk right now, but then again, maybe this is the best time.” “Go ahead, what is it?” he said, very interested and attentive. “I’m just wondering what you think happens after this life. I mean, it’s obvious, we’re not guaranteed another day of life. What just happened to you could happen any day. So has this happened to you before?” He admitted it had happened often, and that he had been involved in a gang, but had moved away for some months to try to make a fresh start in life. He was calm and rational, but just then saw past me to a young man walking down the sidewalk and mistook him for one of the perpetrators. Instantly his demeanor changed, he was filled with rage and ran up in the young man’s face, accusing him of being in the group that had jumped him. The bewildered young man was very obviously not the thuggish type, being well-dressed, carrying a very expensive camera, and looking like he just came from a college class. Miguel proceeded to work himself into a frenzy, screaming at the young man’s face, trying to goad him into a fight. I had to physically insert myself between them to protect the guy, and when Miguel ran to his car to get something out of the trunk I told the young man to leave because Miguel could only be going for a weapon. We took off in opposite directions and Miguel went after him, confronting him at a nearby busy intersection in front of dozens of rush-hour cars. Finally he let him go and came back, quickly calming down to where he was before as I worked to convince him the guy had been an innocent bystander. We talked some more about the Gospel when suddenly he did it all over again, only this time with two middle-aged fast-walkers who were passing by. They did their best to ignore him and keep on walking. Again he calmed down afterward, but I could finally see that he was unstable and not able to focus on what I was telling him. I think what I saw was an extreme form of pride instilled in Miguel from the gang culture, a pride that absolutely under no circumstances will allow oneself to be violated or disrespected, which leads to the enraged revenge killings that end up on the evening news here in Chicago. I didn’t want to end up there myself so I took off, feeling helpless to do anything but pray for Miguel and ask for your prayers for him as well.