Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Aaron Reed: Dead at the age of 18

I hesitated to post this, but I just need to let feelings out. It's all part of the grieving process.

About 5 years ago I meant a 7th grade student (The one pictured far left) who would change my life forever. I had just begun working with Allegheny Center Alliance Church's (ACAC) Student Ministries in the North Side of Pittsburgh. At the time I was a lost soul still recovering from a violent and tragic ending to my ministry in inner city Atlanta. I had no idea where God wanted me.
Working with the students at ACAC was itself proving to be rather difficult. I had no idea how to relate to them what-so-ever. Me, a skinny (I know hard to imagine isn't it) white kid who loves British rock trying to minister to inner city kids. I just couldn't find a connecting point. That was until I met Aaron Reed.
My friendship with Aaron began the night I took he and his brother home from a Wednesday night program. It all started with this question, "Hey Shawn, you want to hear me rap?" I nodded yes expecting to hear some recycled garbage that you often hear on the radio, but to my surprise the words and rhythm that came out of his mouth blew me away. At that point I told them that I could make a beat and record them. Needless to say I found a point of connection with a small group of students from the North Side. It was at that point, that my ministry with ACAC truly began. Most likely, if I hadn't meant Aaron I would not be in ministry today.

In the five years since that night, friendship had made it through many valleys and mountain tops. Together, with his brother and friends, we recorded 30 songs, shared great times in our makeshift home studio, ate hundreds of McDonald's Hamburgers, played hours of laser tag, nearly blew out the subwoofer in my car, and just hung out chatting. Together, we also struggled through the death of his cousin Tony (Tone-Bone), the imprisonment of his father, the challenges of trying to stay out of trouble, the devastation of him being put in Juvi after assaulting a teacher, and the joy of being reunited after that year.

What really stuck out about Aaron during the past five years was his love. The way he would just light up when seeing me. The way he always hugged my wife and treated her so respectfully. The way he would always just say, "Shawn I can't believe you've known me for five years. You're like my brother." The way he was so excited about being an "uncle" to my baby. The way he hugged me so tight before I left to move to Ohio. And the way he would always randomly call me just to see how my life was going and of course to give me an update on his.

In fact one of those random phone calls is my last memory of him. About a month ago at 8:30 in the morning Aaron called and said, "Hey Shawn, I'm graduating High School today. You proud of me? I can't believe we've known each other for this long."
So that's a snapshot of my friendship with Aaron Reed, but sadly that's as far as it will go for now. Yesterday at 9:46pm I received a phone call from his brother telling me that Aaron had been shot in the head while walking across the Wind Gap bridge in Pittsburgh. That quickly my friend Aaron has become another statistic in the wars that wage across the country in our urban areas.

The day since that phone call has been full of emotional ups and downs. Grieving is a strange monster. One minute I'm ok and then it will hit me and I'll be sad, angry, crying, and almost shaking all at the same time. Sad at the fact that my friends life was snuffed out too soon. Angry at the fact that no matter what nothing really changes. Crying at the fact that Aaron's grandma, who raised him, doesn't even have a grandchild that has made it to the age of 18. Shaking at the waves of emotion that come with loving someone so much and knowing that you won't hear his voice again.

I write just simply asking for your prayers. For me and my wife and especially for the Reed family as they have to deal with death of yet another young male.

If I could just say one thing to Aaron (and I know in some mysterious way he knows this now) it would be this:

Aaron, God used you to change my life. It would not be the same without you. Thank you so much for the joys, laughs, challenges, and experiences you've given me. Every student I minister to benefits from the fact that I knew you.

Aaron you're with Jesus now (tell him I said hi) and all your pain and sorrow is over. I can't wait to see you in the future and hear your rhymes once again. Again brother, I'm so happy to have known you and everything I do in ministry has in some way been influenced by you.




Anonymous said...

So sad....We are sorry for the loss of your friend in this life, Shawn & Kendra. Praying for both of you as well as his family.
Blessings, The Cook Family at St. Paul's

Anonymous said...

Shawn and Kendra my thoughts and prayers are with you. It is difficult for my children to understand the type of life Arron led. I am glad you were there for him when he needed you and he was able to fill a need you had at that time. I thank God everyday that you have come to St. Pauls, you are making a difference in Sam and Sheila's lives and all the youth here at St. Pauls. May God Bless you.
In Christian Love
Sherry Browning

Anonymous said...

Shawn and Kendra we are praying for you and for Aaron's family. What a tremendous tragedy. God used Aaron's friendship and love to inspire your ministry which led you to St. Paul's. For that we are blessed. Now Aaron "soars on Eagles wings. No more sorrow. No more pain......."
The Rogers Family

Anonymous said...

Shawn & Kendra,

The intensity of the apostle Paul's
love for his son in the faith,
Timothy, was very evident in the
epistle II Timothy. It appears
that your friendship with Aaron
had similar qualities. May the
richness of the following verses
comfort and encourage your family
and the youth you have served in
Pittsburgh. May the Lord bring
rich spiritual gain in the midst of
this tragic loss of life.

II Tim. 1:3 - night and day I
constantly remember you in my

II Tim. 1:4 - Recalling your tears,
I long to see you, so that I may
be filled with joy.

II Tim 1:6 - I remind you to fan
into flame the gift of God, which
is in you through the laying on of
my hands.

II Tim 1:8 - do not be ashamed to
testify about our Lord.

II Tim 1:13 - What you have heard
from me, keep as the pattern of
sound teaching, with faith and
love in Christ Jesus.

II Tim 2:1-2 - ... be strong in the
grace that is in Christ Jesus. And
the things you have heard me say in
the presence of many witnesses en-
trust to reliable men who will also
be qualified to teach others.

II Tim 2:3-4 - Endure hardship with
us like a good soldier of Christ
Jesus. No one serving as a soldier
gets involved in civilian affairs
- he wants to please his commanding

II Tim 2:22 - Flee the evil desires
of youth, and pursue righteousness,
faith, love and peace, along with
those who call on the Lord out of a
pure heart.

II Tim 3:14-15 - But as for you,
continue in what you have learned
and have become convinced of, be-
cause you know those from whom you
learned it, and how from infancy
you have known the holy Scriptures,
which are able to make you wise
for salvation through faith in
Christ Jesus.

II Tim 4:1-2 - ... I give you this
charge: Preach the Word; be pre-
pared in season and out of season;

II Tim 4:7-8 - I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now
there is in store for me the crown
of righteousness, which the Lord,
the righteous Judge, will award to
me on that day - and not only to me
, but also to all who have longed
for his appearing.

Eric & Michelle Morris

Jay Miklovic said...

i am praying for you shawn... i can't imagine what it must be like.

if you need someone to bounce some stuff off of or just talk remember i am right down the road and will drop what i am involved with in a heartbeat

Shawn said...

Thanks everyone for your messages!

Anonymous said...

Hello...I just felt the need to name is Dann Carr and I was his JPO for a couple of years...I was saddened to hear of his death...I also have many memories of Aaron and how he wanted to be successful in life by becoming a rapper...He was a kind and funny kid who had a strong family behind him...I remember hearing how he graduated this June and how how proud I felt about him doing so...what a loss...God bless Aaron and his family.

Anonymous said...

I have known Aaron for a few years now. He was an awesome young man with a bright future ahead of him. Despite the obstacles in his life, Aaron always had a smile and kind words to say. He was one of the most respectful young men I have ever had the pleasure of working with and feel blessed to have known him. Prayers go out to you and his family.


pie125 said...

Aaron i reed was my first son and i miss him alot its hard with out him in my life i want to think shawn for this page and every body who cared for him lil pie i love and miss you

Shawn said...

I'm so glad you were able to find this post. Know that my thoughts and prayers have been with you for sometime now. Your son always spoke so highly of you!

cat lash said...

shawn,hi,miss you. last week i left you a very long letter that i didnt post correctly,but today i will tell you. thank you for this site about my child. it warmed my heart. i could see him smiling,smiling at you,he did love you like a brother. no matter what went on in his life ,he couldnt wait to tell you. he would not been at rest had you not been there,but you know know that.(smile) he had hoped that one day you would come back so he could see you everyday and you wife. he was waiting on the birth of your child,like a proud uncle(smile) i had the most wonderfull 18 years being his grandmother,his mom. i cant imagen doing this without him. i have desi,and i will stand with lil pie and watch him very closely.thank you everyone for your thoughts and concern about my child,my husband thanks you.

cat lash said...

big aaron(pie) this is for you by way of shawn. you are the orignal aaron,pie, you are the orignal rapper that lil pie wanted to be.his dream was to be the best of you. lil pie loved you with all his being,you carry that with you till the last great day when you see lil pie yourself,then he can tell you what i allready know! i fill your emptyness,i know your loneyness,im part of your sadness,i tell you ,it was far better to have had lil pie for 18 yrs.,than to never had him.he was a joy to know ,he was the love of my life! r.i.p. lil pie,tony,lil derrick,untill i see you again mom(grandma)

Anonymous said...

I had Aaron as a student last year and got to share in the joy with his family on graduation day. Aaron was always polite, smiling, and a mischievous smile that melted you. My heart breaks for his family and hope that we can help his little brother through such a horrific tragedy. God bless you, Aaron.