What Would I Change If I Could?

jordanLast night was a rough night. I was at home and a friend called and asked if she could come over. I was excited to see her and ran outside when her mom’s car pulled up. But something went down that still upsets me. Her and six other girls piled out and the biggest one – she looked like a 10th grader – started punching me. I fell to the ground and she started kicking me. The next thing I knew I was in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. I’m glad that everything checked out ok. They gave me a cold pack to help keep the swelling down on the back of my head. They called my grandma to come get me.

I have lived with my grandma ever since I was removed from my mom’s home. Among other bad behaviors, she would whip me with an extension cord. That was three years ago when I was in the 5th grade. I know my grandma loves me but we have been hitting some rough spots lately. I’m at my third school in four years and I keep getting in trouble. And I’m not sure why. Grandma tells me to straighten up, but I don’t. Grandma has her own issues to work through. She is disabled with a lung disease and stays at home most of the time with her oxygen tank. I smoke weed just to dull the pain that is my life.

Well, grandma couldn’t come get me from the ER and so we tried the Medicare taxi but it wasn’t answering. The social worker at the hospital called my grandma and luckily a friend of our family who works in the neighborhood as a pastor was visiting at that time and volunteered to come pick me up.

As he pulled up to the ER with his son by his side, I just looked away. I remembered him because when all three of us were taken from the home, my auntie asked if they would take my younger sister for a period of time. I saw them off and on over the course of that year but I have seen less of them since my siblings were placed back with my mom (I never went back).

We got in his car. His son sat in the back seat. It was quiet as we pulled out onto the street. After some small talk, the deep questions started coming.

“The light has gone out of your eyes and the smile is off your face. What has changed?” he said.

“I don’t know.”

“If you could change two things about your life, what would you change?”

“I don’t know.” I thought to myself – What kind of question is that? I can’t change ANYTHING about my life!

“Are you hurt?”

“Yes.” I started crying but I looked away so he couldn’t see.

“Are you angry?”


“At who?”

“At myself.“

I just stared ahead at the window wishing I could understand my world. I hoped this conversation would end, but at least someone was noticing. We piled out of the car and headed inside. I gave grandma my paperwork for the police report and went to my bedroom to put on my headphones.

What would I change? That question won’t leave me. My teachers say I need an education. That’s probably true. My grandma says I need Jesus. That’s probably true. Some people say I just need to “make better decisions.” That’s probably true. But none of that makes sense to my world right now. What would I change? I think I know. I need a friend. Someone true. Legit. I need someone to care. I need someone that won’t trap me on the front yard and betray me. I need someone who won’t abandon me when I kick and scream against the demons. I need someone who won’t shift me on down the line to the next non-profit mentoring program. I need someone to care…for a long time. And I don’t know where to go with that.

(This was written by me, the pastor, after these events transpired last night. While the story is true, the photo is not of her.)

The New Jim Crow

One of the most moving moments I had this year was hearing Michelle Alexander talk about The New Jim Crow. She encouraged citizens to start a new Underground Railroad to keep black men out of the prison system. Made sense of my last four years working with ex-offenders as I have watched the injustice that is done to so many.

new jim crow

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela was a fatherless child. Perhaps if we stopped looking at fatherless kids as “ten times more likely to end up in prison” and started looking at them as future world leaders just waiting for a mentor, things would change around here. Here’s to the school teachers, family members, leaders and friends who looked beyond the circumstances and built a leader.

mandela kid

Raising Kids In The Urban Environment

People ask me about raising kids in the city all the time. I took my son to a community meeting tonight and a homeless woman came and sat by him. When I turned around, I saw this. They say that fostering empathy in kids at a young age influences them for life. I believe that Champlin Janz is and will be a compassionate, transformative leader!

champ and woman

Reysean, We Will Miss You!

Five years ago, my family moved 18 miles from the burbs to the city. Not too far a drive, but a very long way from home for this former country boy. Hearing gunshots was a new experience. Homicides in the nreyseaneighborhood were new. Five years later, it’s not new anymore, but it’s something you never get used to. But I still have felt a bit removed as I’ve never known any of the victims. That changed Friday night when Reysean was shot and killed in a gang shooting. Thanks to the work of Willie Mosley, a former convict turned community leader in our prison after-care program, Reysean was part of our lives. We went fishing together, a Rockies game, talent shows, and he even sang at church! He played basketball with my son. We’ll miss you, friend. Word has it there’s a river up there that flows right from the throne of God and down the middle of the street. I’m sure there’s bigger fish there than what we tried to catch. Cast away and we’ll see you soon enough!