Being Part Of The Solution - The Message
21 Dec 2023

Being Part Of The Solution

As knife crime continues to fill the news, our No More Knives tour is more important than ever. We caught up with James from mission team OTC to hear why he’s so passionate about encouraging young people to say ‘no’ to carrying a knife.

What’s your personal experience of knife crime?

When I was 12, my friend and I were playing football. My friend missed the ball, kicked his foot on a stone by mistake and it started bleeding badly. Instead of being there for him, I started laughing, making him feel angry and embarrassed. He left and came back later that day with a knife and tried to stab me. The knife went through my hand, and I still have a scar today! 

From then, I started to carry a knife thinking that I was protecting myself. The reality was that I was actually putting myself, and my family, in danger. When you carry a knife, it doesn’t end with you. If someone can’t hurt you, they may try and get to your family.

My family ended up moving to try and get me away from the wrong crowd I’d got in with, but it didn’t help. I ended up making similar choices in the new place. When I was 16, a friend of mine stole something from my house. I was so angry that in that moment, I went to the kitchen, took a knife and left the house with the intention of hurting my friend.

When I was outside his door, I felt like I had two voices in my head: one encouraging me to hurt my friend, and one which was challenging me saying, ‘The choice you’re about to make will change your life forever.’ Now I know that the second voice was God giving me a way out of the choice I was going to make. 

I decided then that I wasn’t going to throw my life away. I walked away and started making better choices.

Why is the No More Knives tour so important?

A few years ago, I heard about a friend who’d stayed in the wrong crowd and ended up becoming a victim of knife crime. He had to have his limbs amputated to save his life! And four other mates went to prison after hurting someone. 

I know that God saved me from this being me, and now I’m passionate about using my story to help others. I’ve gone from being part of the problem to being part of the solution. 

Young people need to know how to make positive decisions and that saying ‘no’ to carrying a knife is actually how they can best protect themselves, and their families. The No More Knives tour is all about equipping and empowering young people to do this, and the response has been amazing. We’ve seen students hand in weapons in assemblies and pledge to chat to their mates about not carrying knives. One lad gave me a balaclava after one session saying, ‘I’ve been trying to get people to see me as a violent person, but I don’t want to do that anymore.’ And even better than this, we invite each young person to an end-of-tour gig where they hear the gospel and get the chance to respond – and we’re seeing hundreds of young people give their lives to Jesus!

With five more tours taking place across the UK before Christmas, we’re believing God is going to continue changing lives as young people lay down their weapons and take up the cross.

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Find out more at message.org.uk/nomoreknives