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Culture Ministry News Shining Lights

Minnesota Doctor’s Ministry Mentors Former Gang Members and Addicts

Until he met Jesus, Dr. Tom Blee had been practicing general surgery in the relatively safe town of Red Wing, Minn., well insulated from violence and inner city trauma.

Tom Blee is a native Minnesotan, the son of a business man and tavern owner.  He turned his back on God and church at an early age, and one of the consequences of his disdain for God was an unhappy life and a broken marriage.

Partly because of the gentle but relentless witness of his sister, Blee turned to Christ in 2014.  That encounter with Christ changed his life – and his medical practice.  According to WORLD, “The Minnesota trauma surgeon discovered that healing involves more than stitching up gunshot injuries or resecting a damaged colon.”

He said he became “dismayed with the revolving door of violence and despair.”  Those experiences motivated him to found LIFEteam, a ministry to bring lasting hope to the young gang members who often end up in his operating room with bullet or knife wounds.

LIFEteam is a coalition of community leaders and organizations that hope to “offer an environment of hope and healing for patients at a low point in their lives.”

LIFEteam and Blee focus on the impact of mentoring and fathering on the development of young men’s lives, as well as strategies for ending “generational violence.”  Blee often includes his own conversion story, which he tells in his book How to Save a Surgeon: Stories of Impossible Healing.  The book is a chronicle of Blee’s own life, including stories of his time in Red Wing, in St. Paul’s inner city trauma center, even an inner city murder scene.  The story culminates in an account of his own need for healing at the hands of “the Great Physician.”

The original purpose of LIFEteam—Leadership Impacting the Family Environment—was to help young men who wanted out of gangs.   According to WORLD, “It provides Christ-centered mentoring and connects individuals to resources like counseling, fathering classes, attorney referrals, and protective housing. Sometimes LIFEteam staff members supply the mentoring, counseling, or support meetings, and other times they are a bridge to other ministries or organizations.”

“Many of the young men we see have no father, no male role models,” Blee said. “We try to build a team around them to start helping.”

But, he said, his main goal is to “establish hope.”

To read more about LIFEteam:  https://lifeteamalliance.org/

Warren Cole Smith

Warren previously served as Vice President of WORLD News Group, publisher of WORLD Magazine, and Vice President of The Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He has more than 30 years of experience as a writer, editor, marketing professional, and entrepreneur. Before launching a career in Christian journalism 25 years ago, Smith spent more than seven years as the Marketing Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers.