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Day 22: Don't Believe Everything

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I am Mark. Pray with me today: Lord, help me be your child in this world. May I show others the same saving grace that you have afforded. May I be an agent of change in your world to turn eyes to you.

I'm the Deputy Chief of Community Prosecution in Community Courts in the City of Dallas, the Pastor of Victory Baptist Church, and recently appointed Municipal Court Judge for the City of Dallas. South Dallas is home to me. My wife is a principal here and my kids are being educated here.

The biggest thing I want people to know about my community is don't believe everything you see on the media. Sometimes you see Red Bird Mall or South Oak Cliff being labeled as South Dallas, but that's not it. Maybe the only time people see South Dallas is for the State Fair of Texas. This neighborhood is not as dangerous as you think. Our crime stats are lower than some other areas in Dallas. This community was affected by drugs in the late 70s and 80s and it devastated this community. It's not the only community. Look at places like Washington DC in the same time frame.

Many think that the addiction is really the root of the devastation, but a lot of the reason our community is still hurting is because of the arrests made in the time. Many of the men were taken out of the community and as they come back, are coming back with a scarlet letter and little formal experience in the real world. Ten years later, adjustment is hard. Destroying family units is hard. I don't think the government can put that back together. It is the people of the Lord. If government could do it, I think we would have seen it by now. Many times when the government has come in, it has just made things worse. Think about slavery, the ending of Jim Crow, the Civil Rights movements…that, friends, was the church and the church can change lives.

I want outsiders to know that this is a community of good people. Good people that need some help. We are proud and we want to do the best. We need churches to educate and help us to advocate for our community. We need to restore homes, help our elderly citizens, and help our children who are in failing schools and need guidance. We need male role models. There are lots of kids here without strong male figures in their lives to guide them and show them what a father looks like. We need males from the churches with a strong moral compass to provide faith leadership and mentorship to our children. There are so many possibilities to help here. It is not about color, class or money. It's about love. Do you have a heart? Are you the same person that Jesus saved and are you a reflection of that same saving grace to give to someone else? If you can bestow that same grace that Jesus gave to you, you can change a generation.

How precious is your steadfast love, O God! All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 36:7

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