Monday, August 11, 2008
Chicago - A Whole New Side
People generally divide Chicago into three sides: the north, south, and west sides. CSM Chicago used to have north side and south side prayer tours that we would take our groups on the first night they arrive in the city. Our prayer tours are driving tours where we share about the issues and struggles of inner-city life, leading groups in praying over the city. Things have changed so much on the north side, that we are no longer doing our north side prayer tour. So this spring we created a west side prayer tour.
The new prayer tour explores various west side neighborhoods, including Lawndale. Lawndale has undergone many changes over the past 60 years. In 1950 it was predominantly Jewish, but by 1960 it was mostly African-American.
During this time, many of the businesses began to leave as well. When Martin Luther King Jr. was killed, riots ensued, destroying 75% of the remaining businesses. Between 1960 and 1970 the Lawndale neighborhood alone lost 120,000 jobs.
While recent history has wrought the Lawndale community with pain and suffering, God is moving. On our prayer tour, we pause by Lawndale Community Church—a beacon of light to the neighborhood. It was started in 1978 by a local coach, Wayne Gordon, to meet not only the spiritual needs of people but also their physical and social needs.
Lawndale Community Church runs a free health clinic that sees 119,000 patient visits per year and a development corporation which rehabs old apartments and rents them out to low-income families. The church has a residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation program to help men break out of addiction and pursue a new life in Christ. They have ministries that reach out to children with incarcerated parents and an after school program which reaches out to the neighborhood kids. These are just a few of the church’s ministries.
Many times I wonder what America would look like if every church across America reached out to their community like LCC does. Jeremiah 29:7 says, “Work for the well-being of the city where I have sent you and pray to the Lord for this. For if it is well within the city you live in, it will be well with you.” Lawndale Community Church has embraced this verse and is a living example of how each church should serve the area where God has placed them. Praise God for their faithfulness to the gospel!
-Tim and Kelly Reed, CSM Chicago Co-City Directors