‘To Win Gangs, Use Saturation Evangelism' Says Converted Gang Banger
Soul winners who reach gang members say it requires an all-out effort. "You can't just spit in the gang neighborhood, you have to storm it," says ex-gang banger David Rojas of Victory Outreach in San Diego, California.
His no-nonsense approach includes street preaching, saturating an area with tracts, music concerts mixed with heavy testimonies from saved gang members, day-after-day showing up with the same message: Jesus Christ can change your life by forgiving your sin and loving you like no one else ever has. Sometimes he even includes some free food distribution.
Rojas remembers: "Before I was saved, I didn't want to be caught with anything that looked religious.
I was a Catholic, but not interested in anything religious. So the soul winner has to avoid looking spiritual. You have to drop a seed in their hearts in two minutes or less or they will turn you off."
Rachel Markovich witnesses to gang members in Seattle, Washington. She says that they are pretty practical. "If you tell them the gospel straight out, they often respond to it. You don't have to convince them they are sinners. If you ask them where they will go if they die, they will say, ‘To hell. I have done some really bad stuff.' Witnessing to them is intimidating at first but when you get down to it they are really open. They want that acceptance and they want to know that God loves them."
Rojas agrees: "There's a scared little boy inside that macho mask that each one of them wears." Rojas remembers when he was there, himself: "I put on the mask when I was around others. But when the lights went out, the real me cried all alone. Now I know I was crying out for my Creator. I was in the gang because I wanted to belong to something. I was looking for someone to love me."
Having "been there and done that," Rojas ministers with compassion and fervor. "When I got saved I decided to declare war on the devil. One young fellow, who wouldn't go to church with me because he was dirty from a bad drug trip, promised he would go next Wednesday. But he was blown away in a drive by shooting the next day." Like any mission field, it is dangerous. One must be both called and anointed.
Rojas believes that his approach of saturation evangelism has kept him from being killed in the streets. "You have to be consistent. When you show up, they should recognize you and know why you are there.
"One gang thought I was an undercover cop and were about to kill me when a woman who knew me, opened a window above the street and shouted to them that I was okay."
"If you plan to start a gang ministry, build a team," says Rojas. "Pray, exhort one another, map out the community, knock on doors and saturate the area with tracts and flyers about meetings, drama and music events.
Look for the one who influences the rest of them and win him over. Build a relationship with him. If you can get him saved, he will bring in a lot of others.
If you consistently go back, after a couple of years they remember you and soon realize that you are serious and that you are bringing hope."
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