News • October 02, 2020

Founder of Homeboy Industries talks about needing tenderness to help people

Founder of Homeboy Industries talks about needing tenderness to help people

Riverside, Calif. (Sept. 21, 2020) – Tenderness is important when ministering to people in the margins, Father Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries, told a California Baptist University audience. Boyle spoke during the first Culture and Justice Lecture Series event of the semester on Sept. 17.

“We go out to the margins, so no one is left standing outside of the circle of compassion,” Boyle said. Boyle is also an award-winning author and Jesuit priest. His organization, Homeboy Industries, was the recipient of the 2020 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize.

Located in Los Angeles, Homeboy Industries helps gang members re-enter the work-force through an 18-month employment and re-entry service that teaches them basic work skills. Other free services include tattoo removal and substance abuse resources.  

Homeboy Industries is now the largest rehabilitation, gang intervention and re-entry program in the world.

“Every single person who walks through our doors comes in barricaded behind a wall of shame and disgrace, and the only thing that can scale that wall is tenderness,” Boyle said. “There is nothing that reflects the God we actually have than the tender heart of this God.”

Boyle shared stories he came across during his ministries, giving examples of how his approach of kindness and understanding helped young men and women turn their lives around.

One man Boyle helped had been beaten so badly every day by his mother he had to wear three shirts to school to cover the blood. He grew up to join a gang. But after his rehabilitation, he now helps other youth and young men leave gangs behind.

“What he once was ashamed of, he grew to be proud of because he overcame it. His wounds and scars are a reminder of what he accomplished,” Boyle said. “If we do not welcome our wounds, we may be tempted to despise the wounded.”

Boyle reminded students and guests of God’s compassion and kindness and what their mission should be.

“You are invited to embrace the highest form of spiritual maturity, which is an extravagant tenderness. You are invited to take seriously what Jesus took seriously: inclusion, non-violence, unconditional loving-kindness and compassionate acceptance. You are invited to understand that belonging is more than inclusion and that we belong to each other,” Boyle said. “You go to the margins and you imagine a circle of compassion and you cease to care about anyone accusing you of wasting your time.”

The College of Behavioral and Social Sciences hosts the lecture series, which is being presented virtually this semester. Luke Womack, founder of The GO Fund, is featured speaker for the next lecture that will be held Oct. 15.

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