Guns, Drugs, Crime — Knight Fights to Save Teens
8/30/2019By Andrew Fowler
Knight helps teens in juvenile detention centers discover God’s love
CHARLESTON, W.V. — A 14-year-old pressed a 9mm barrel to a hostage’s head as teachers and students watched in horror. To the more than 25 captives, it may have seemed the teen was beyond saving.
Lucky for all involved, federal marshals were able to defuse the situation and arrest the teen. Four years later, he is attending ministry and group counseling sessions, inspired to help others.
The sessions are led by Knights of Columbus member Tom Eades. It’s a deeply personal project: Eades once had drug problems and was complicit in robberies, car thefts, bike gang fights and shoot-outs. After one fight, he waited more than an hour for medical help while cradling his stomach and intestines.
Then he had a vision of being sucked into hell. From that moment on he’s been going into juvenile detention centers to help teens transition back to civilian life. He founded the non-profit Hope in the Darkness Project, which includes the initiative “Taking it to the Streets.”
But it’s a tough road. Eades hears stories every day. One of his group member’s friends was shot and killed in Charleston. Drugs, especially opioids, are shipped through nearby drug alley, which runs from the southwestern part of Virginia through Interstate 64.
“This is a war on the streets, and drugs are always the underlying cause,” Eades said. “With drugs comes money, with money comes power and with that combination usually comes death, of the innocent included.”
Eades has been holding open discussion forums with teens for more than 20 years, preaching over and over a single message — there is still hope.
“They’re looking for God in some way,” Eades said. “They know nothing about God. The only thing they knew about God was what their grandmother had told them or their grandfathers said when they read the Bible.”
The teens aren’t forced to participate. They don’t have to attend or pray with Eades. He simply continues to share his own painful testimony and his own experience with God. He reminds them that while God has given them free will and loves them unconditionally, there are still consequences for their choices.
“This isn’t about you,” Eades says in his sessions. “It’s about who you are affecting in here. When you’re doing drugs, it isn’t just you doing the drugs, it’s you shoving them down the people’s faces that you love.”
The approach has worked.
There was a young man in the juvenile detention center Eades frequented who was arrested on bomb threat charges. He hated God, but he attended Eades’ sessions. Since his release, he has gone through the RCIA program and been baptized into the faith, even joining the Knights of Columbus in Charleston.
Eades’ project is a central aspect of his life in the Knights. He joined soon after converting to the faith. Now, he is a district deputy.
His council, Blessed Pier Giorgo Council 10011 in Romney, W.Va., is helping to expand the project. They are purchasing a shuttle bus to take Eades’ open discussion forums to the streets, covering towns such as Petersburg, Moorefield, Romney and Keyser. It’s an initiative teens have asked Eades to do for some time.
“They just want love, and it’s not out on the streets,” Eades said. “It’s just not there, so that’s what this project will do. This project is going to take it to them.”
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