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WALKING ON WATER IN LOS ANGELES


[James Bryan Smith, The Good and Beautiful Life (InterVarsity Press, 2010), pp. 131-132 | posted 7/05/2010]


In the early 1990s, gang violence erupted in Boyle Heights, a section of East Los Angeles. Eight gangs were in conflict in the parish around the Dolores Mission Catholic Church. Killings and injuries happened daily. A group of women who met for prayer read together the story of Jesus walking on water...Then one of the mothers, electrified by the text, began to identify the parallels between the Jesus story and her own...


That night, seventy women began...a procession from one barrio to another. They brought food, guitars, and love. As they ate chips and salsa and drank Cokes with gang members, [they began to sing traditional songs together]. The gangs were disoriented, baffled; the war zones were silent.

Each night the mothers walked. By nonviolently intruding and intervening, they "broke the rules of war." The old script of retaliation and escalating violence was challenged and changed. It is no accident that the women christened their nighttime journeys "love walks."


As the relationships between the women and the gang members grew, the kids told their stories. Anguish over lack of jobs; anger at police brutality; rage over the hopelessness of poverty. Together they developed a tortilla factory, a bakery, a child-care center, a job-training program, a class on conflict-resolution techniques, a school for further learning, a neighborhood group to monitor and report police misbehavior, and more.


And it began with the challenge "Get out of the boat" and "walk on water."


(From a sermon by Michael McCartney, Mothers Matter, 5/11/2011)

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