SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - A Shreveport church continues to fight violence in the city by building stronger, faith-based foundations in men from all walks of life.
"We have to start somewhere. And I think this is the starting point," said Jerod Jones, a Galilee Baptist member.
He leads a small group of youths as part of a spiritual boot camp KSLA News 12 first told you about last month.
"This is going to be the melting pot where our community is saying 'We've had enough of the violence'."
Jones thinks fixing Shreveport's culture of violence starts with one life at a time.
"It's time for us to come together and use this boot camp to strengthen our community."
Friday night's gathering brought in scores of men, including more than a dozen youths and teenagers.
"The things they're doing, we've lived through," Jones said. "I've had the same 13-year-old thoughts, 16-year-old thoughts. And I'm trying to be transparent with these kids."
David Wright III, a Shreveport eighth-grader, said he's enjoyed opening up to boys his age about the struggles and temptations he faces daily.
"I just came out here to learn about God and open up to boys and men."
Wright said he's found solace in Jones through their conversations about maturing and dealing with similar childhood challenges.
"He said 90 percent of the things that we said were things he's been through," Wright said of Jones.
"Whenever I get to his stage, I'll be able to tell other kids or young men that I had somebody to tell me about it so I wouldn't do it."
Galilee Baptist plans to hold its next boot camp from 8 to 10 a.m. Aug. 25. The program is free and open to the community.