I hardly know what to say or how to begin. When we bought our home, it was 2007, and hints of whispers of a possible recession were all we heard. It was also the beginning of prices falling - a slight recession perhaps. The sellers market was waning. A good time to buy thought we. We didn't have much, but we had jobs and a decent down payment. Our home was in a poorer part of town, not the poorest, but a poor neighborhood that seemed to be undergoing that charming process of gentrifying. It is amazing what two years and an economic downturn can do to one corner of a community, in this case ours.
We've had repeated bouts of graffiti on the structures along our alley and all the businesses visible from our front yard. That our own garage was spared by the grace of God was evidenced by a single black spot of what appears to be the final dying breath of paint from the offending can. (I should add here, by way of thankfulness, that our city has a graffiti removal worker who comes and does a decent job of cleaning it up within just a few days of the report. I have their number stored in my cell phone.)
We've had ongoing problems as well with the indigenous and migratory indigent population in our area. These are those whose behavior is so bad they have even managed to wear out their welcomes in the local shelters and soup kitchen. Oh, in case you're wondering how I could know such a thing, it's because I've heard them yelling and fighting about it in front of my house, blaming each other for why they are not allowed back. "You're the reason I'm not allowed back at the f******g Jesus Center any more!!!..." they accuse. I can also testify to it because they camp in front of my house with their vehicles and carry on their verbal abuse and profanity with their windows wide open for anyone within a half-block to hear. These are ones so troublesome the police have actually called me for assistance in keeping them updated. They invite their friends and occasionally hold drinking/drug parties in front of our house as well. Thankfully our current "visitors" of the last three days (see picture), have not had any parties.
Then I found this in the local paper this morning:
Suspects as young as 13 arrested in connection with robbery, beatingPosted: 05/16/2009 12:02:52 AM PDT
CHICO — Suspects 13, 16 and 18 years old have been arrested in connection with a May 2 robbery and beating on Columbus Avenue that left a 19-year-old Chico State University student unconscious.
The adult was identified as Demetrious Jackson, of Chico. The others weren't identified due to their age.
Police believe the same group may be responsible for a similar robbery and beating April 15, which left a 27-year-old university student unconscious on a bike path south of West Eighth Avenue.
On Thursday a task force of officers formed to investigate recent attacks around Chico State University, dubbed the "bike path robberies," developed leads in the two cases, the most vicious among 14 reported since early April.
Jackson was arrested Thursday afternoon at his Hickory Street home, where some evidence from the May robbery was found. Also Thursday afternoon, officers responded to an address on Locust Street, where boys ages 13 and 16 were arrested in connection with the brutal robbery. Later Thursday police arrested another 16-year-old boy in connection with the robbery. He was already in juvenile hall on unrelated charges.
A laptop computer taken from the victim in the April robbery was recovered at a Columbus Avenue address on Thursday. The discovery led to a 13-year-old boy in Oroville, who allegedly sold the laptop to a Chico resident.
While investigating on Columbus, another boy, also 13, was arrested on probation and gang-related charges notconnected with the robberies. Five of the males arrested Thursday are persons of interest in the April 15 robbery, but none have yet been named as suspects.
"We were very excited to make these arrests," said Chico police Sgt. Rob Merrifield. "Of all the recent bike path area robberies we're investigating, these were the most violent," he said. Jackson was booked into the Butte County Jail in Oroville on charges of second degree burglary and assault with a deadly weapon. His bail was set at $80,000.
The minors were booked into juvenile hall.
Note the emphasis in bold. Locust is our street. It's only a few blocks long. Those were "children". I read the story aloud to Paul. He began singing, "I believe the children are our future...."
There is only one hope for our future. Clearly we can not place our hope in children. They have no more magic in them then we did. (Judging by the article above, they may even have less.) They are sinners just like us. Sin is the disease. There is only one cure. Jesus Christ is our only hope. The gospel our only hope for lasting change in this increasingly hopeless world.