Posted Nov 24, 2014 at 6:00 PM
In the wake of recent violence in Savannah the mother-daughter pastor team of Arleen Fuller and Soneisha Ling are taking their message of unity and prayer to some of the most troubled areas and communities in Savannah.
Fuller and Ling will hold a PUSH - Pray Until Something Happens - prayer gathering on Wednesday night at Sanctuary of Praise church at 219 W. 45th St.
Fuller said she wants to get her message out to the entire city. She plans to extend the invitation to city officials, including Mayor Edna Jackson and Savannah-Chatham police.
“We want to reach people and let them know that it’s time for us to come together as a city, and we need to pray for each other’s children. There are too many children being killed senselessly. It just doesn’t make any sense.”
Fuller has worked with at-risk citizens such as drug dealers and users and single parents since the mid-1980s to get them off the streets and turn their lives around.
“A lot of people don’t care because it isn’t their home, but it could be their home next, so they need to come together,” she said.
The service will feature prayer for city officials, metro police, victims, communities and parents.
The women say one of the first steps in dealing with the ongoing crime is full communication between parents and their children, including searching their rooms and knowing who they’re associating with. Fuller knows first hand how important communication can be. Ling was involved in a gang as a teenager, and Fuller said she always strived to let her daughter know she was there for her no matter what situation she might be in.
Ling, now a mother herself, uses the same parenting approach for her 16-year-old son and said parents need to get involved as much as possible and put aside the fear of making their kids angry or punishing them.
“I’m hard on him. I don’t let him go certain places because you never know if there is going to be a shooting,” Ling said. “I did things as a child that I don’t want him to do. I don’t want my children to live that way... You can say, ‘I did this, but I was wrong.’
“Be a better person than I was.′ They can learn from your example without having to go through those things themselves.”
Fuller’s group meets weekly at a church on Augusta Avenue, but after the shootings of three children in the past week, including the death of 2-year old Kiaja Smalls on Nov. 18 and another incident Saturday night that claimed the life of 12-year-old Keith Passmore, she said she wanted to take her message to the community on a broader scale in hopes of creating a change within the community.
“Every child counts. I know they might have a beef with an adult, but they need to settle it a different way and stop taking it out on innocent kids. They need to change. Don’t use violence to get your point across. Innocent people are getting killed,” Fuller said.
In the past two weeks metro police have responded to a dozen shooting calls, four of them homicides and in many of those cases victims aren’t cooperating and witnesses aren’t coming forward with information.
Police spokesman Julian Miller said Monday he had no new information concerning the investigations into the deaths of Smalls and Passmore. Smalls was killed by a shot fired into the apartment where she was sleeping.
Police said Sunday they believe Passmore was shot during a party that attracted about 30 people.
Last week, Police Chief Joseph Lumpkin and Maj. Larry Branson, who heads the department’s criminal investigation division, said the biggest issue the department faces is getting witnesses to report information.
Fuller and Ling said this stems from a feeling that many community members don’t trust police, but they urge them to put that aside in order to help each other and their communities.
“I know some people don’t trust the police, but we need the police back. They’re the ones that have to investigate these cases, and they need cooperation from the public. People need to stop covering for one another. Whatever information they’ve got they need to go ahead and give it up,” Fuller said.
Fuller and Ling hope to continue the PUSH services in public parks and churches. Another service is scheduled for Dec. 10 at Fellowship of Love Community Church of God in Christ, 1402 Harmon St. from 6-7 p.m. and they urge other area pastors to open their doors for the gatherings.
“We’ll meet daily, weekly, whatever we need to do,” Fuller said. “I’m just trying to make a difference. I have a heart for the people and I want to help them out.”
Police ask anyone with information on the shootings in Savannah to call CrimeStoppers at 912-234-2020 or text CRIMES (274637) using the keyword CSTOP2020. Tipsters remain anonymous and may qualify for a cash reward. Investigators can be reached confidentially at 912-525-3124.
What: Until Something Happens service
Time: Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Service from 6-7 p.m.
Location: Sanctuary of Praise church, 219 W. 45th St.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 912-341-5716