I have been saved... Alleluia! OK, well maybe not. But I have found who I want to help me be saved if I were to be saved.
I don't want to belittle this man's work. He is really doing something really very important and admirable. But he is beautiful. Jorge Roque used to belong to the Two-Six Nation gang in Chicago's Mexican American community (remind me to tell you a funny story about Latino gangs and La Villita in Chicago). He now works as a program coordinator for the YMCA and tries to turn young people away from gang life. As part of this work, he uses the American Bible Society's Elementz of Life 4 the Streets magazine. If he and his friends pictured below asked me to follow them to the Kingdom of God, I most certainly would.
I am not a big fan of evangelical Christians, as anybody who reads this blog knows. However, they have one fine recruiting tool in Roque. And if he gets violent gang-members to put down their colors, give up the violence and turn their lives around, well then I guess that is a positive thing.
Oh yeah, my funny story about Latino gangs in La Villita. In December of '05, I visited my friend Nacho in Chicago. While there he took me out to La Cueva, an interesting drag club with a very diverse crowd. From the appearance of its clientele on that night, it seems to also be frequented by a variety of gang-bangers, possibly even the Two-Six Nation gang, which is prevalent in La Villita. You never know. But there where quite a few rough and authentic looking cholos in the house that night. This is the only club I have ever been to where I was frisked from neck to ankles upon entering, which was "amusing" to this non-Spanish speaking white boy.
During the show, my friend Nacho went to the bathroom, leaving me at the table with his friend and roommate, Gerardo, who speaks very little English. While Nacho was away, I made the mistake of smiling at this "scary, but hot" (quote is a bit of an inside joke) looking guy at the table next to us. He was dressed in typical cholo attire... flannel shirt, khakis and a black ski cap. He smiled back at me flashing us his shiny gold front teeth and proceeded to get up and come over to our table and started talking to me... in Spanish. I politely said "No habla Ingles", which made him turn to Gerardo and start talking to him. I looked at Gerardo and looked like he was going to shit his pants.
Finally, Nacho came back from the bathroom and started talking to the gentleman. After some polite back and forth, in Spanish, and Nacho laughing, the young man returned to his table. When I asked him what that was all about, Nacho told me that the young man wanted me to take him home with me. Nacho said that I could not because I was visiting the city and was staying with a friend well outside the city, which I was. Turns out white boys should not smile at cholo-looking dudes with gold teeth in gay bars without being able to back-up the smile with... well, I am not exactly sure what he had in mind.