When a young man is “inked” by a gang, the tattoo signifies his adoption into a new family – one that’s often violent and criminally-minded. The tattoo is nothing short of a claim on the kid’s life by his fellow gang members.
So one priest in Los Angeles is removing kids from gangs by removing their tattoos.
Homeboy Industries is a nonprofit organization founded by Jesuit priest, Father Greg Boyle. Launched in 2001, H.I. works to prevent young men from joining gangs, as well as rehabilitate those who’ve been arrested for gang-related crimes. The program is extensive and incredibly well-rounded; participants have access to education, drug and alcohol support groups, job training, legal help, and more.
But in spite of their efforts, if the gang’s choke hold on a young man’s life can’t be broken, nothing is gained. And that choke hold is best symbolized by the gang’s tattoo.
So Homeboy Industries created another branch of their ministry solely dedicated to tattoo removal. Using 35 doctors and four laser machines, the team led by “Father G” removes tattoos to not only raise job prospects, but to eliminate the gang’s control on a young man’s life, as well.
The process is terribly painful. Tory Clarke, a tattoo removing specialist, says, “It feels like popping grease or like a hot rubber band fully stretched with needles on the end shooting fire.” But young men line up to have the procedure done in spite of the pain; a whopping 3,000 tattoos are removed each month!
For these young men to have new life, their old life has to die. For their old life to die, the tats have to be removed.
What do you need to remove to have new life?
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(Resource cataloged by David R Smith)