Word of The Day
Gang outreach Center (St Petersburg Times)
After quitting his Church in Hialeah and moving his church/gang outreach Forte says "I thought it would be easier there because it was a really poor neighborhood with a lot of gang activity,” Forte says. "I thought a lot of the parents coming might not mind the gang members because some of their kids were in gangs. The church was in the territory of the notorious 10th Street Thugs, a band of juveniles that terrorized Little Havana in the early 1990s. As Forte began trying to save their souls two years ago, the police were cracking down on them as well. The gang was among the first in South Florida to be charged under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, a far-reaching statute that targets organized crime and carries a possible life sentence. As indictments for such crimes as murder, attempted murder, kidnapping and armed robberies began to stack up; Shenandoah's pews began to fill. "We had a breakthrough. We had 100 kids show up in one service," he says. But soon the adult congregation changed its mind. They were okay, he says if just a few gang members came, but big crowds of gang members made them uncomfortable. "They were afraid that there might be a drive-by shooting from rival gangs or a shooting in the church," he says. "They gave me very little time to get out of there. They said tell the gang members to stop coming, or be out in six days." Forte left and took his gang church on the road -- skipping from park to park around South Florida. Soon he caught the attention of another church, the non-denominational Alpha and Omega Church in Kendall. The church agreed to support Forte and his gang ministry. Since then hundreds have been changed from gangs to God.