In light of the growing racial tension Gospel recording artist Kirk Franklin is urging men to step up and become mentors to troubled youth all across the world. Being the victim of a troubled past himself, Kirk understands the pain of being raised in a less fortunate community. His plea also went out to law enforcement asking them to join in and gather some youth to spend time with. Show these youngsters that they have options and are not bound by what they have seen modeled before them.
Recent events surrounding the killing of unarmed youth have lawmakers seeking to prevent ambiguous confrontations in the future between civilians and law enforcement by fighting for legislation which will require police to wear body cameras. This is a grand gesture however, according to Kirk, procedures and policies do not translate into love like time with these wounded youth could.
The Grammy Award-winning artist has not been shy about his own struggles growing up surrounded by sexual abuse, poverty and drugs. Mentoring saved his life. Having someone open up about their personal struggles to underprivileged children and share how they overcame while encouraging them to do the same results in a mutually beneficial relationship where both parties learn life lessons. Now a father and husband, Kirk wants to make it clear that he is not negating the power of prayer but urged people not to allow their faith to affect their feet.
Kirk is living a good life now but said it was not always this way. The musician went through a series of problems growing up and never dreamed he would ever make anything of his life. He explained a portion of his struggles as follows:
I was adopted by a 64-year-old lady and raised in really difficult times. We stood in line to get the block cheese and had to wear those tough jeans. My sister had a real bad drug problem and ended up spending over a decade in prison and prostitution. We lived that life and it was difficult.
The gospel artist said there was incest and abuse in his family when he was a child. As children as early as eight-years-old they were introduced to some ugly images. Kirk said from that time until his late 20s he struggled with pornography and was very promiscuous. He also had a hand in a young woman’s abortion. There are many things in his past that he is not proud of but said it is things people try to cover up that will be the biggest inspiration to others who are trying to navigate difficult seasons of life.
According to the musician, when he was 15-years-old his close friend got killed and this is when he developed his own relationship with God. Kirk was no stranger to church but had not really considered his Christian faith prior to the murder of his friend. Life may not have been easy for the artist but because someone cared enough to take him “under their wings” his life turned around.
As Kirk continues to reflect on the tensions brewing around the country after the grand jury decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson he strongly believes it is time for men to accept the call to mentor America’s youth. It is no secret that racial tension has played a part in the ongoing strife being carried out across the nation, however showing these young men that someone is concerned and cares for them will aid in the healing of the black community. It is not the only answer but definitely cannot hurt.
by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)