Challenging The Youth Violence Epidemic
I just watched OPRAH. Her guest was a teller at a check cashing store in Indiana, Angela Montez. On Monday, October 19 she was held up by a gunman. She stared into his eyes and said, “You don’t look like the kind of young man that would do this. Where is your momma? Can’t she help you? Where is your dad? Why are you so desperate that you would stoop to robbery?” Then she prayed, at first to herself, and then out loud, “Jesus help me, keep me alive so I can see my grandbabies.” She looked up from her prayer and noticed that the young man with the gray hoodie had not grabbed the cash from the drawer that she had left open.
He watched her pray with his pistol pointed toward her.
“And help this young man, Jesus. He needs your help! Help him to know your love and forgiveness. Help him to not do this, Jesus!”
Greg Smith put his pistol away, got down on his knees and joined her in prayer, “Would you pray for me, too?” He asked with tears in his eyes.
Maybe you’ve seen the footage. It’s all captured by a security camera. But the powerful scene was when Greg, in an orange jail jumpsuit, (linked by video) asked forgiveness from Angela on OPRAH, who was in studio with his mom and fiancee. Angela responded, “I forgive you, Greg. I love you.”
Even Oprah dabbed her eyes.
Greg is in his early twenties, a four-year veteran of the military, skilled as a heating and cooling technician; but his long-term unemployment and depression led to despair. He lost his way. He did something crazy. He did something violent.
When asked why he stopped the robbery, he responded, “Because I heard God speak through Miss Angela. I’ve never heard someone speak to me with that kind of love and care.”
His response echoes recent research from the University of Chicago.
“Children raised in violence tend to be more violent adults. Experts point to parenting classes as one way to help break the cycle of violence. Extensive research from one national study found that children of mothers in high quality parenting programs had an arrest rate 60% lower than their peers.” – Chicago Tribune Sunday, Oct. 11,2009 “Through these classes we help parents gain self-confidence and provide them the skills they need so they can raise children who are less prone to using violence as a solution to a problem,” said Kevin Limbeck, director of Family Focus, a community organization that runs parenting classes.
Our children, even those in their teens and twenties, like Greg, need guidance, love, support and someone to say, “You are more than this,” when they blow it. They desperately need someone to forgive them, but they need to be held responsible for their actions. That’s what good parents do: love and set limits.
Oprah closed her show with BeBe & CeCe Winans singing ‘Grace’ from their new album, Still. They dedicated the song to Greg and Angela. “I once was lost, but now I’m found. Was blind, but now I see.”
Our kids need love, limits and healthy role models; but they also need grace.
Timothy Smith www.ParentsCoach.org
Entry filed under: Culture and Family, Parenting, Teens. Tags: Angela Montez, Bebe Winans, Cece Winans, forgiveness, grace, Greg Smith, limits, love, Oprah, parenting classes, Parents, Praying Robber, truth, University of Chicago.