Gathered around for prayer at the end of Wednesday night devos, one teenage girl shared about a project she had been working on at school. The assignment was to create a website and marketing tools to benefit a fictional business. Alisha announced that she had decided that her fictional business would be a nonprofit which would address the issue of teen violence. “The nonprofit’s name will be 8.14.12,” she said. “Why?,” asked an adult volunteer. I knew why. August 14, 2012 was the day that Khalil Cousart was murdered.
Khalil Cousart was a spunky kid with a joyful spirit and a mischievous grin. He frequented our home so much so that he was granted permission to come on in, anytime, without a knock or introduction. Khalil was everybody’s little brother. His playful attitude and cheerful personality drew everyone in. Everyone knew who he was. If he wasn’t at our house, he was playing basketball or joking around with kids at the rec center. Without knowing it, thirteen year old Khalil was a community leader, always at the center, always drawing people together, always providing comedic relief and hospitality.
“Khalil died and all they did was put him in jail,” said Alisha. The “him” Alisha is talking about is the boy everyone calls “G-Baby.” G-Baby was only 16 when he was arrested for the murder of Khalil. “It doesn’t make sense,” Alisha went on to explain, “They just put him in jail and didn’t do anything else to keep it from happening. Things like this are not going to stop just because one boy goes to jail. You have to do more than that. You have to do something to make it so it won’t happen again.”
Khalil’s facebook page is covered with prayers and comments from as recent as yesterday. Even after two years, young people in our neighborhood are carrying grief and pain from his death. No wonder why. Alisha’s concern is real. Khalil’s death is happening again. Death keeps creeping its way into our neighborhood and taking ahold of our young people. The experience of struggle and oppression is hardening the heart of our young people. Some have died. Some are walking dead, strangled by society’s tightening grasp, fueled by drug highs and a quick dollar.
A little later during prayer time, Alisha asks us to pray for her faith. She tells us that sometimes it is hard to believe in a God who will allow for tragedies such as Khalil’s murder to happen. “And on top of that,” she went on, “all they did was put him in jail. They didn’t do anything to keep it from happening again.”
People of God, hear the voice of the prophet, Alisha, calling out in the desert. The testimony of our lives must be something other than, “We didn’t do anything to keep it from happening again.” Alisha is calling out to you, o followers of Christ, and her voice is bold, Spirit filled. May we have ears to listen and courage to act.