Features

Sharing a vision

"Sharing a vision" Continued...

Issue: "Tilting at turbines," July 17, 2010

Although program details vary in each location, national director Scott Larson notes that the principles of changing lives remain the same. "They have to feel the consequences of their current path," he says. "At some point they burn out on it and it's no longer fun. They have to see that a different future is possible."

Sokhan Prak first learned about this when he was 14. He had joined the Crips two years before and never felt he had a choice about it: "It was either that or be a nobody. And I wanted to be somebody." At 14 he was serving time in a Boston juvenile facility after being an accomplice in a robbery. Then he met Sullivan, who planted the seed that another life might be possible.

The seed was dormant for a time. When Prak got out, he returned to the gang and lived with one foot in it and one foot out. A Crip in good standing, he hung out with his friends but also did odd jobs at the Straight Ahead office and experienced a different kind of love. Eight months ago he was shot on the street and the choice became clear: At Straight Ahead "were the people who loved me. They visited me in the hospital. I lay there looking at the ceiling a lot, and I didn't know what was going to happen."

When Prak walked out of the hospital, he left the gang behind for good. Now he works for Straight Ahead, answering phones, running the ministry's screen printing business, and trying to help the next kid make the right decision before it's too late: "God took the blinders off. Now my life brings joy."
Click here to listen to WORLD editor in chief Marvin Olasky discuss with Alisa Harris the Northeast regional finalists.
To view a video profile of Straight Ahead Ministries and of each of the other 2010 regional finalists and to read profiles of finalists and winners from 2006 through 2009, visit WORLDmag.com/compassion.

Straight Ahead Ministries Factbox


Location: Lynn, Mass.
Founded: 1991
Mission: Juvenile rehabilitation, gang reconciliation
Size: Seven staff members in national office, six in Lynn office handling 700 youth contacts per year.
Budget: National annual budget of $1.6 million; separate Lynn annual budget of $300,000
website: www.straightahead.org

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