by Gregory Boyle
c2010 Free Press
Reviewed by Diane Busch
Whenever I am reading or have just finished a book that I love--one that inspires me; one that emotionally connects with me; one that I believe has the power to change people--I immediately want to tell everyone else that they should read it too. I become an evangelist for that current book and mention it to everyone I can. Tattoos on the Heart is one of those books. Please everybody, read or listen to this book!!
Father Boyle, also know as "G" to the "homies" of inner city Los Angeles, is a Jesuit priest who founded Homeboy Industries, which is considered the largest gang intervention program in the country. It provides at-risk youth and gang members with a variety of services, such as counseling, tutoring, and employment.
Boyle has given his life to serving, loving, encouraging and ministering to the gang members, ex-gang members, and ex-cons in a neighborhood with the highest concentration of murderous gang activity in Los Angeles. He has buried 172 young people killed over the 20 years of his ministry.
Homeboy Industries, which Boyle founded in 1992, is an extension of Delores Mission Church. It provides jobs, job training, and encouragement for the "homies" seeking a better way of life. Boyle accepts and loves them all as God loves them all, even the hard-to-love ones. Homeboy Industries gives these hard-to-place individuals an opportunity to be employed in transitional jobs in a safe, supportive environment through its Homeboy Bakery, Homegirl Cafe & Catering, Homeboy Merchandise, Homeboy Farmers, and Homeboy Silkscreen & Embroidery.
This memoir--so honest, real, and raw--has moments of great sadness, moments of humor, and moments of great inspiration. He writes using their language and slang. (Be prepared for the curse words.) He shares from his personal experience the life-changing testimonies of many hardened criminals and gang members. He shares the highs and the lows. Boyle gives people a chance when no one else does. He gives them worth and value. He let's them know they are loved by God. He mentors them to become more of what God intended them to be. He is amazingly patient. He is proud of their accomplishments as a father is for his children. He is grieved beyond measure when one of them is killed. He is a father figure, a mentor, an encourager, a friend, a teacher, a cheerleader, and a spiritual leader. Lives are changed.
As you read this book, open your heart to what God may be calling you to do. Who can you befriend? Who can you help out of a difficult place? To whom can you be Jesus today?