Dennis Woltering / Eyewitness News
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NEW ORLEANS -- People in Central City took part in a vigil for one of the most powerful, most persuasive voices in New Orleans' crusade against violent crime.

Members of the New Hope Baptist Church remembered the man behind the billboard that said 'thou shalt not kill.'

Pastor John Raphael lost his life to bone cancer Tuesday at the age of 60.

Raphael, a former city cop, became a pastor and led a crusade against violence by taking his ministry into the streets, where people grieved over loved ones who lost their lives to senseless violence.

In March 2010 when a mother her two children and her sister were slain in a quadruple murder, Raphael tried to hammer home a message.

'There are some things we are going to have to do as a community,' Raphael said in 2010.

We have to be the ones to step up. At the end of 2010, when New Orleans was headed toward the highest murder rate in the nation, Raphael fasted to take a stand against violence that was taking so many lives -- many of them children.

'These are our children who are dying on these streets, and we have a responsibility,' he said.

Some of those victims, like 2-year-old Jeremy Galmon, struck by a stray bullet in Central City, were simply innocent bystanders.

'The fact that he has lost his life ought to say to me that every time a weapon is fired in this city, every time, there's a chance that Jeremy Galmon can happen again,' Raphael said.

He made a difference, showing some people how to turn around their lives.

'I used to be the worst, the worst in this neighborhood,' said James Mitchell Thompson.

Thompson said the pastor showed him a better way.

'I got a bullet hole in me, I'm able to say, man, look, I'm alright,' he said. 'You win and walk away without anger in my heart.'

In the streets, at countless vigils for murder victims and in the church, Raphael lived doing what he preached -- you can be part of the solution.

On Tuesday, July 2, viewing is scheduled to begin at New Hope Baptist Church at 3 p.m. with a funeral service at 7 p.m. On Wednesday at the Mahalia Jackson Theatre, viewing is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. with a funeral service at 11 a.m.

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