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Mother Starts Ministry to Combat Gang Violence

At 15, Raymond Germany didn't heed his mother [Debra's] pleas to leave the "thug life." He became a successful drug dealer, sometimes making $1,000 a day. Then, in July 2001, his career in crime ended abruptly. Shot in the back of his head, he died alone on an empty staircase in a housing project. He was 23.

At first Debra could only cry. Then she became a mother on a Christian mission.

In March 2002, she co-founded Divine Intervention Ministries along with Valerie Dixon, who also lost her son to gun violence. "If I can save one person by talking about what happened to my son, it's worth it," says Germany.

The ministry began by using billboards to bring attention to unsolved murders and find community solutions to crime. It also sought to soothe grieving family members who have lost a loved one to violence. Divine Intervention Ministries changed direction to focus on restoring incarcerated young men, giving them opportunities to rebuild their lives when released. This IMPACT program (Interceding Making Positive Actions Come Together) was launched in the fall of 2006.

Germany believes if more funding was dedicated to education and rehabilitation while young men are incarcerated, the nation would not have to keep building bigger prisons.

"We have to find out what caused them to turn to a life of crime and violence," she says. "We must get to the root of the problem before it can be resolved."

Germany is convinced God is preparing to raise up a nation of men on fire for him.

"These men will do things that are unheard of in the realm of rehabilitation after incarceration. Who better to tell us how to stop violence than the young men committing the violence themselves? As we help restore them, they in turn will reach back and help restore each other."

So she continues to speak out—in prisons, boot camps, schools, and churches all across the state of Pennsylvania.

"I'm an ambassador for Christ," she says with a smile. "Whenever God gives me a platform, it is my pulpit."

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