"In the Fall of 2006 I became involved in Moody Bible Institute’s Big Brother Big Sister Program in Cabrini Green. As I started getting more involved with my little sister's life and her community, before long, it became my community too. She actually teases me that I know more people over there now than she does. After my little sister moved out of the Cabrini area I still kept in contact with her and all the kids and families I met in the community. In 2007 I started going to a local church in Cabrini, Living Faith, and would ask the kids outside on the playground if they wanted to go to church with me (they were literally right outside the door of the church). It soon turned into 5-20 kids coming to church with me every Sunday and then we would have a picnic in the park or go to the zoo or something.
I moved out of the Near North area 7 years ago and was torn because I really wanted to stay connected with the community. When I asked God why I was moving so far away I was not expecting the reply I received. God basically told me, "I gave you the extra commute time so that you could spend it in prayer for the individuals that you care about in Cabrini because I can do so much more in them than you could ever do living down the street." So now, and for the last 7 years, I have spent my extra commute time praying for individuals in the Cabrini community. When the Park Near North location opened up I started attending the 5:30 pm service after spending the morning at my church and the afternoon with the kids. Sometimes the older kids would join me at Park. After Living Faith dissolved around 2013 I started attending the 11 am service and invited the kids to join me. I walk through Cabrini every Sunday morning before church to see who wants to go to church and usually knock on a few doors to pick kids up for church.
God is at the core of my ministry in Cabrini. Without God I would not be able to do anything of value in Cabrini. God makes appointments for me with people in the Cabrini community all the time. One of the guys in Cabrini commented to me that whenever we talk the conversation always ends up being about God.
There were moments where I needed to sacrifice my own will, time, and temperament. A quote that has helped me a lot from Oswald Chambers is, 'As long as I consider my personal temperament and think about what I am fitted for, I shall never hear the call of God. To be brought into the zone of the call of God is to be profoundly altered.' Letting go of my will and temperament looks like me being patient beyond my ability with the kids and the Cabrini community. It also looks like me being relaxed about the timing of things, which I am usually incredibly time conscience. I have sacrificed much of my time just standing around talking to the community or going to events because I believe that God will one day redeem all the time that I have spent and invested in the community.
God has used everyone in Cabrini to help me depend and rely on God more for wisdom, guidance, and even basic needs. One of the kids that I have gotten close to over the years is a boy named Elijah. God laid him on my heart years ago to pray that he would turn his life around and live for God. Well, Elijah is a natural leader so I started not only praying for his salvation, but also for his friends. God has been moving in Elijah's life and even though Elijah has been in and out of jail the last 6 years, I can see how God has been transforming his life. It is a little ironic that for at least a year I would tell Elijah to read the book of James every time I talked to him. Elijah has been reading his Bible, praying, and having Bible studies with cell mates for well over a year now. I get letters from Elijah and his friends with scripture verses and things that God has been teaching them. I know that one day God will be glorified fully in Elijah and his friends lives. One of my favorite verses is, 'Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, but the evidence of things not seen.' Hebrews 11:1. I continue in faith, holding onto my hope in God's redemptive power."