In the Ghetto…The Vicious Cycle

In 1969, Elvis recorded a song called “In the Ghetto”. It is a particularly penetrating song as it chronicles a cycle of poverty and crime that often perpetuates from generation to generation. Mac Davis wrote this song and it does an incredible job of communicating desperation in only a matter of a couple of minutes. Part of the song says, “People don’t you understand, the child needs a helping hand.”

There are organizations that seek to give that helping hand. Certainly there are some very large ministries like Operation Christmas Child that deliver shoe boxes to needy children in third world countries. Those international ministries need our support. But, there are many organizations on the local level that are making a real “boots on the ground” difference. They may not get the headlines, but they work day by day in difficult situations to impact people’s lives. One such organization in my town of Colorado Springs is Lighthouse Mobile Ministries ( .

A couple of months ago, Lighthouse celebrated their 10th anniversary. I attended that celebration service and listened to the testimonies of people who were at the very bottom of life. As I tell my wife, my eyes sweated a lot during those accounts of transformation. Through the depths of desperation, these precious people somehow encountered Jesus Christ through theministry of Lighthouse and God used that ministry to end “The Vicious Cycle” as the Elvis song is said to have been originally named. Lighthouse provides food, clothing and other needs as the Lord leads. More importantly, Bob and Toni guide this ministry under the leadership of God to reach into people’s lives with the love of Jesus Christ.

Thirteen hundred miles away in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountain range is another ministry that is making a direct impact. Broken Stone Ministries ( has a men’s home called Our Father’s Arms and a home for women and children called Eagle’s Nest. I have been involved with this ministry since the first year it was established in the mid-1990s. Over these 15 years, this organization has been used by God to break the vicious cycle in methamphetamine addicts, people headed to prison for repeat driving under the influence convictions, broken homes, prodigal sons and daughters…the list goes on.

I recall an eventful moment with Bob McLeod who provides the overall leadership for Our Father’s Arms and Eagles Nest. We were in a room preparing for a worship service that was to commence in a couple hours. One of the men came in and was speaking to Bob and the man began to grow very agitated and exploded into rage. I tried to stay out of it but was watching the situation closely and trying to control my own anger that was rising because of the way he was talking to Bob. Bob McLeod has been a mentor for years and I felt an obligation to protect him if this man became physical. Not only was I going to “take the man down”, I had decided I would take him down hard.

While I was sitting there mulling over what I should do, I was amazed as I watched Bob just continue to respond to him in Christ-like love. It was a phenomenal thing to watch. Had Bob raised his voice and retaliated verbally, this situation would have gone volcanic. However, the love of Christ prevailed. The man began to calm and became somewhat emotional. I breathed a sigh of relief because while I could have intervened physically, that wouldn’t have provided the solution that Jesus Christ provided through the unconditional love that Bob expressed.

Elvis’ song certainly communicates a dire scenario that is played out in ghettos around the world on a daily basis. A baby is born, grows up learning how to fight, commits crimes and is possibly gunned down…while his own baby is being born. And, the cycle begins again. But, there are people and ministries that care and make a difference a life at a time. This Christmas season, please consider giving financially to a ministry such as Lighthouse Mobile Ministries or Broken Stone. In providing to these two organizations of integrity, you help to reach a life. As Winston Churchill is sometimes quoted, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

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