Don Pinnock writes that most members of gangs are young people – particularly young men who are seeking an identity; who have little money yet need stuff in high-density urban areas; and who have time on their hands and plenty of adolescent edginess and energy.
The real question to ask is not so much about gangs, but what can we do to help young people live meaningful, resilient lives in environments that favour development of gangs, crime, and violence?
Consider the following prayer points in continual prayer for the ongoing challenges of gang violence on the Cape Flats:
1. Watch your heart: According to Ephesians 6:12, ‘we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.‘
2. Ask the Holy Spirit: To see justice prevail can only be accomplished by the working of the Holy Spirit in us. He teaches us to pray and intercede (Romans 8:26-27). In Corinthians 2:3-5 we read: ‘For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…’
3. Fatherlessness: The violence in the Cape Flats is recurring. This makes one realise that such violence is the fruit of underlying spiritual matters. Rejection due to fatherlessness and in many cases absent mothers results in social ills like rape, malnutrition, all forms of abuse (verbal, physical, emotional, and sexual). Pride results in a desire for power and authority and many are prepared to even sacrifice someone’s life to attain that power. Pray these Scriptures for the fatherless:
Psalm 10:14 – But You have seen, for You observe trouble and grief, to repay it by Your hand. The helpless commits himself to You; You are the helper of the fatherless.
Psalm 10:18 – …do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may oppress no more.
Psalm 68:5 – A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation.
Psalm 82:3 – Defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy.
4. Young people: Many young people on the Cape Flats fall prey to becoming involved in gang-related activities based on socio-economic circumstances (lack of education, unemployment, etc.), absent parents, and lack of parental authority in the home. Pray for parents to return to God and teach their children the ways of God. Psalm 78:5-8 For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; that the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children, that they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments; and may not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not set its heart aright, and whose spirit was not faithful to God.
5. The Church: Pray for God’s people to fast in obedience to God’s Word (Isaiah 58:6-11) and to repent from seeking God for self-gratification (Isaiah 58:1-5). Pray God’s promise as a result of the true fasting for the Body of Christ: ‘Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.’ (Isaiah 58:12). Violence shall no longer be heard in your land, neither wasting nor destruction within your borders; but you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise. (Isaiah 60:18). Pray for the Church to continue to minister the truth (God’s Word) in all meetings in the Cape Flats areas. (Isaiah 26:1-4). Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. (Luke 10:2).
6. Gang leaders and members: Ask the Lord to speak to them in dreams and visions and have an encounter with the Chief of ten thousand, the One who is called Faithful and True. (Song of Solomon 5:10, Revelation 19:11-16). Cry mercy for the people who have suppressed the truth in unrighteousness. Pray for the gospel of Christ, the power of God to salvation, to minister to the gang members and leaders. (Romans 1:16,18). Pray for every born-again ex-gang member who shares the gospel on the Cape Flats; to be as wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove. To be filled with the Holy Spirit, full of faith doing great wonders and signs among the people (Acts 6:8).