Published: Feb. 22, 2023 at 6:47 PM EST
COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Following the gun violence-ridden, deadly weekend we witnessed across Columbus, we’re digging deeper to try and find some solutions to the state of the Fountain City, especially when it comes to our younger generation. Mayor Skip Henderson told News Leader 9 what we witnessed this weekend can only be resolved inside homes, starting with parents. The two ministry leaders News Leader 9′s Ashlee Williams spoke with say people throughout the Chattahoochee Valley simply need to come together-- no matter race, religion or any other differences. The two groups, Columbus Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance and Take the City, both working in different ways to reach at-risk youth and their families. “When I saw this weekend that we had multiple shootings and looking across the nation at the violence, in my heart without being indifferent, I go ‘what do we expect?’” Blake Russell, a ministry director at a non-profit Take the City, said. A horrific three days across Columbus this past weekend, leaving nearly a dozen children injured from gun violence, five people dead and a woman still recovering after being shot in the neck. At the center of many of these shootings: young adults and children. Russell is a former gang member himself. He explained the group, Take the City, is boots on the ground, ministering weekly in crime-ridden neighborhoods throughout the Chattahoochee Valley. He said a solution starts in the home, though, and giving young people options to stay busy... but most importantly showing them hope. “We found that when we go into those tough places in the city that is ripe for a harvest, it’s actually very easy. It’s like they’re waiting for hope,” Russell explained. “We see things happening like these shootings in certain parts of the city that we don’t live in. They’re not affecting our sphere, street or grocery store or our area.. we look at those things and say, ‘it always happen there...’ That’s the problem with parenting... It’s going to take a collective unifying of everybody.” As for Pastor Adrian Chester with the Columbus Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, he told us that the group brings dozens of African American pastors together to find out the needs, and implement solutions. Chester agreed that it all starts in the home, but also stressed the importance in giving Columbus Police the funds and resources they need to operate. “Churches are still going into neighborhoods, meeting the needs and going in the school, but it goes back to the parable Jesus taught in the Gospel,” Chester said. “You can have the best seed in the world, but every heart may not be ready to receive the Word of God and even what churches and non-profits have to offer.” Russell added that studies show 88% of men in prison grew up without a father. He stressed the importance of having a father-figure around. Copyright 2023 WTVM. All rights reserved.