Holy Jamz takes aim at gang life

FRESNO, Calif.

This is the third year West Fresno has sponsored an event called Holy Jamz. Organizers at say this is their attempt to keep kids out of trouble by getting them into church.

To some doing the latest dances to gospel hip-hop music may seem out of place inside of a church.

'It's not odd to me because I grew up listening to that kind of stuff," said 13-year-old Michael Kinley.

Motivational speakers say they are speaking out against gangs, drugs and drug dealers in a way that makes young people more apt to listen to them, instead of message that glory lifestyles on the street.

"They tell them about the cars and money, but they don't tell them about the morgues, prison cells and life sentences," said Larry Bluford with Operation T.H.U.G.S.

37-year-old Larry Bluford says he found his calling while serving a five-year sentence in state prison for an attempted murder charge. "I'm not telling them I know someone whose been to jail or juvenile hall or suffering a broken home, gang life. I've been there and they are willing to give me the time of day."

Gospel Rapper Jacob Mendez says his crew hopes to change lives through their music and life experiences.

"As a child I was molested by my aunt," said Mendez, "I know there are others out there that struggle with the same thing."

Teenagers say inspirational messages help deal with negative influences.

Tyesha Mister said, "There's a lot of peer pressure from school, drama, friends, when you come to church you don't have to worry about nothing like that."

Holy Jamz involves youth from nearly 15 different churches across the Valley.

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