It is dusk in the snake pit. The door opens, and the man immediately lets them in, motioning them to a card table in the kitchen. He is probably mid-twenties, black, trim, and wearing dreds and a white muscle shirt.
“Always good to see people who represent the Lord.”
They chit chat a few minutes, and then the young man starts.
“We believe in God—that He is our Father and loves us very much. We believe He has a plan for us and that plan revolves around Jesus Christ. What are some of your feelings about God, Jerome?”
“Man, I didn’t know nothin about God until I got shot.”
“You got shot?”
“Yeah. Nine times.” He stands and pulls up his shirt. He points to at least five scars in his torso. “There, there, there …” He sits, then points to scars in his forearms and biceps.
“So what happened?”
“I was ridin with two hoes in this truck. One was drivin, then there was me, and the other was on the other side of me. We come to this intersection, and these dudes walk up and just empty they clips. The ho on my right, she die right away. The ho who was drivin … she got us to the emergency room but she din’t make it neither. They was wheelin me in on a bed and that’s when I knew or I saw or whatever. I committed myself to Jesus right there.”
Elder Davis leans forward. “Wow, so as you know, Jesus died for our sins.”
“Oh yeah,” says Jerome. “Jesus, He my only hope. I done lots of bad stuff and I prolly deserved to die with them two hoes. But Jesus, He saved me and now I gotta figure out why.”
“How do you think you do that?” says the young man.
“Well for me, I be goin to the Missionary Baptist Church and just tryin to spread the word.”
“That’s great,” says the young man. “That’s the thing. God wants to give us prophets. That’s how we got the Bible.”
“Yeah, bruh. I be carryin my Bible everywhere when I’m in South Central.”
“You got out of the gang?”
“Out the gang? Nah, man. I’m an OG!”
“Oh,” says the young man. “So you’re still in the life?”
“You don’t leave the gang when you a OG,” says Jerome. “Cept for when you die.”
“So how do you change your life?”
“I’m retired. Now, I hang with the homies and I witness to them and try to share the Word.”
“Oh. Well ok. We thought we might tell you about the Prophet Joseph Smith.”
“It’s all good man. I got my prophet. You got yo prophet. But we all headin to the same place.”
“Who’s your prophet?”
“I tole you. Ezekiel Williams, Missionary Baptist Church. Just right there up the road.”
“Oh, right.” The young man stands, and Elder Davis rises with him. “Take care, brother. Stay clean.”
“Damn straight,” says Jerome, shaking hands and giving half hugs. “Y’all got like any literature or anything? I’ll read anything about the Word.”
The young man turns to Elder Davis. “Give him the one on the Savior. And maybe the Lamb of God video.”
“You cool with a video?” says Davis.
“Yeah, man. It’s good to meet you, brothers.”