A Discussion About Gun Violence in Knoxville with Safe Haven

These past two years, teen gun violence has been a significant problem in Knoxville, primarily on the east side. The city, along with many none profit organizations, has worked diligently to stop the ongoing crisis, but solutions have seemed futile. One organization that has been making jabs in this fight is World United Ministries.

World United Ministries (WUM) was founded and organized in 2010 by pastor Lawrence Williams, a local native of Knoxville. After being involved in the Knoxville street life himself, pastor Williams decided to turn his life over to God and work with local youth to prevent them from getting involved in malicious activities. WUM provides services that include after-school activities, sports, tutoring, hot meals, and clothing to the youth. While going through a rough patch in life in himself after changing his life around by himself, Williams started to go to various communities to speak and work with the youth to prevent gun crimes with only the faith of God as his protection in these dangerous communities.

Talking with Pastor Williams, you can hear numerous success stories in this fight against gun violence and preventing it. An instance of a couple of young men who were talked down from killing another group of young men can be recalled, but at the same time, you can save them all. Members of the World United Ministries can recall one case of a young male doing well in their program but decided to return to street life and is now serving a 51-year sentence. As stated by a member of World United Ministries, "some kids are going to grasp it, and some are not."

Members of WUM believe survival contributes to the rise of this violence, whether trying to provide for themselves or their families or gang violence. Acceptance is also a significant contributor. Many of these teens seek refuge in the gangs that are behind most of the violence. In this survival mode, young people have become numb to murder and violence.

"All the young people that are caught up in these situations do not want to be in those situations, but it's hard to help take them away when you do not have enough resources for all of them," according to members of WUM. With better resources and more contributions from the city and the community, WUM impact can reach more of the problem areas of Knoxville by continuing to provide their services to the youth.

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