By Nick Perez
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP)—”I... You... We... still got time” was the refrain of youth pastor Jakai White's message to a Wilmington congregation New Year's Eve, as gun violence loomed over the city.
The 15-year-old delivered the sermon at Joshua Harvest Church days after being shot in both legs as he left Christiana Skating Center near Ogletown on Christmas Eve.
White said he thought he was going to die as his father rushed him to the hospital after the shooting.
Tuesday night's service followed a string of shootings in the city, including two incidents on New Year's Eve.
A 17-year-old and a 34-year-old were sent to the hospital Tuesday in two separate shootings on North Market Street.
White said he went to the hospital Tuesday afternoon to get new bandages on his wounds and saw the 17-year-old being rushed in for treatment. He began praying for him.
The church's head pastor, the Rev. Derrick “Pastor D” Johnson, asked the congregation who's going to look after the young people.
Johnson called on community leaders, state and local lawmakers to try and solve Delaware's gun violence.
“It's time that the governor and mayor of Wilmington listen to those of us with knowledge and experience in this area,” Johnson told the Delaware Online/The News Journal after White got shot. “The mayor should at least meet with our delegation on the number of guns available to our young people in the community.”
At the end of the service, Johnson prayed over all the young people in the congregation and asked the adults to help look over them.
Johnson, White and other members of the church said they plan to take their concerns to Wilmington City Council's public safety committee on Jan. 13.
White was part of a group of activists who spoke to the council on Dec. 5. During his speech, he talked about losing a friend to gun violence and told council members he didn't want to be the next person to be shot.
“Please keep this on your mind, that a 15-year-old boy asked you to save his life,” White told council members. “Please, it is an urgent matter. We cannot say it enough. I plead and I beg with you, please do something.”