GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Violence in Gulfport is taking a toll on the youth.
"We live in the neighborhood where most of the stuff happens," said 9-year-old Salehah Wells. "So I get scared at night, or scared to come outside."
All Amilya Agee wants is some assurance from adults.
"I don't want them to lie, but I want them to tell me it's going to be all right," Amilya said. "And I hope it is all right."
And church leaders are stepping up to do just that. Ron Meyers Ministries sponsored a Youth Day at People Ministry Church in Gulfport on Saturday. There, parents and children enjoyed the day with activities and messages of hope and inspiration.
"The goal is to come up here in the community and just share some love and come and give some positive messages to the young people," Myers said. "Stay away from drugs, stay away from gangs, stay away from guns; and that God has a plan for you and that God loves you."
Inside the church, that message was made clear by a man who once had everything except a solid foundation to keep it: former Major League Baseball star turned minister, Darryl Strawberry.
"I think sometimes, young people think that their lives are mistakes, and I'm just here to encourage them that they are not. No one is a mistake. God loves all," said Strawberry.
But Strawberry says shallow talk is not the direction to help.
"Forget all this giving them hope, false hope," Strawberry said. "You can be this and you can be that. Yeah, we all could be something. We all should be something in life, but the real meaning of life is following Christ and having the Lord in your life."
Alcohol and drug addiction plagued Strawberry until he became a Christian more than a decade ago.
"I wish I had accepted Christ early in my life. At least I would have had a foundation - a foundation to make the right choices and make the right decisions," said Strawberry.
The former baseball player helped give former teammate and friend Barry Lyons a second chance himself.
"He was helpful in me seeing the light shining in him five years ago," Strawberry said. "How he had turned his life around was very instrumental in me asking the Lord to change me and to cleanse me."