My name is John Gable, and I'm a quadriplegic. (In other words, I'm paralyzed from the neck down.) This happened to me as a result of an unfortunate incident in 1992. I could have been robbed of my life, but God saved me so I could tell you that your life could be better if you follow the right path.

As a kid, I was rebellious and got off to a wrong start. My life of crime started when I was in my early teens. Theft, alcohol, drugs, gang violence, you name it -- I did it. I was trouble with a capital "T." I was the worst of the worst, and I thought I was untouchable, but God has a way to bring us to our senses. I had a rude awakening!

One night I was riding around with some so-called friends looking for trouble. One of my friends' younger brothers had been robbed of some things earlier that evening. Since we knew who had taken the goods, we decided we were going to recover them. We found the guys at a club and followed them to an apartment complex. Upon their arrival, three of the guys in the other vehicle went inside the apartment, while the fourth stayed in the car. I got out of the car, and one of my friends got out with me. I walked around the car to the passenger side and asked the guy, "Why did you . . . ," and he shot me in the face. I never saw his face -- only the barrel of his gun. I fell to the ground and couldn't get up. Everyone drove off and left me lying in a pool of blood. When I saw the blood shooting from my face, I said, "God, plesae don't let me die!" I couldn't move, but I kept praying. Finally, two bystanders told me they had called the ambulance. I asked them to move me, but they said I was too badly injured to be moved. The paramedics arrived at the hospital at about 4:15 in the morning . I had to wait a couple of hours before I went into surgery, because so many people had been shot. The doctors cut a hole in my throat to remove the bullet to keep me breathing. When I woke up, I couldn't talk. I was in bad shape. I was put in ICU, and while there I saw two patients die. I whispered to my doctor, "Please move me to another room, because I don't want to die." He moved me to a private room, and I began to ask God, "Why Me?" God replayed my life as a youth -- the lying, stealing, alcohol, drugs, gang violence, and disrespect -- all that caused me to be in the predicament I was in.

During the next month, I dropped from 185 to 92 pounds. I had sores down to the bone, on my feet, on my legs, and buttocks from lying down and giving up. I wanted to die. I was very depressed. I hated my new life. I wished I could die. My doctors told me if I didn't fight for my life, I would be dead within a month. I remembered when I was first shot and how I had begged God to let me live. I realized God hadn't brought me this far to let me die, because there was work for me to do here. That's one of the reasons I'm writing this. I don't want any of you to be in the condition I'm in, and there's no reason you should be. Focus your life around positive influences -- your parents, minister, teachers, the church -- instead of guns, violence, alcohol, and gangs. Stay in school and get an education. You need to learn to make your own decisions. Listen to your parents; respect them for who they are. If you are having difficulties, find someone you can put your confidence in. Don't be afraid to ask for help. THERE'S HELP OUT THERE FOR YOU.

Parents, teachers, and community leaders: WE NEED TO TAKE BACK OUR LEADERSHIP ROLE, because our students are being destroyed. You only have to turn on the TV or radio, or read the newspaper to see what's happening to our youth. Our students are being taken out one way or another through gangs, drugs, prison, murder, or rape. It's sad -- but ever so true. It may seem hard or harsh to chastise them, but if you don't, they may be lost. "Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Prov. 22:6)

-- John Gable, Campaign Chair
Listen to the Cries of the Children

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