Friday, February 24, 2017

Thursday, February 23, 2017

How One Ex-Gang Leader Is Reaching Chicago’s Most Dangerous Neighborhoods

Kingdom Covenant Church

Last year in Chicago, hundreds of young black men took out their guns and shot each other.

The city saw 762 murders, more than New York City (334) and Los Angeles (294) combined, and far higher than its 2015 tally of 485. Much of the violence was driven by gang activity on the South and West sides of the city; three-quarters of the perpetrators—and victims—were young black men.

Some speculate the rising violence was caused in part by a police force weakened after a video of a white police officer shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times. In August, arrests were down by a third and stops were down by 80 percent from 2015, 60 Minutes reported.

Others point to longer-range reasons, including the unintended consequences of tearing down high-rise projects around 2011, which dispersed the gangs that gathered there. Even moving imprisoned gang leaders to out-of-state correctional institutions—a decision meant to cut off their communication with the street—backfired when street leadership became “chaotic and out of control.”

But in the middle of the chaos, black pastors are making a difference. Reaching out to neighborhoods, feeding the hungry, and running programs for kids, the black church is salting the city.

One of those pastors is David Washington, who prays with people and hands out school supplies on streets he knows well. He grew up in the violent South Side neighborhood of Roseland; in fact, he used to run a gang and sell drugs there.

You can read the rest.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A Syrian Family That Found A Way Out


You might remember the story.  I told it just a few months ago, when I thought the world had peaked in it’s insanity. I was wrong.
The story was about a Syrian family that I met. They were pushed out of their ancestral home by war and violence. If you don’t remember Albert Sayegh specifically, you might remember the smiling son – Jack.
Finally, this is one Middle East refugee story with a happy ending.
When I met Albert in Jordan 18 months ago, he was pensive and struggling to make sense of it all.  He was just few months removed from leaving his career as a mechanical engineer, his shop and his home.  Aleppo, Syria was his home – his family’s heritage. But it had fallen to terrorism, war and strife.
There were no real prospects as a Christian refugee family. In Jordan he wasn’t allowed to work and he was living off their meager savings and the charity of loving family and friends. Europe and the United States had shut the door to Syrian refugees out of fear of ISIS cells. He was stuck.
“I had a good job as a mechanical engineer. I had my own shop with $50,000 in inventory,” he told me with wistful, look-away eyes. “Then they just took it.”
“More than 75 percent of my neighbors were Christians, but the terrorists came through and identified each of us by our faith. After that, we were targets,” he said.
The snipers would train their rifles on their street facing windows, so they couldn’t go near the front of the house.
“Two or three times a week, bombs would drop in our neighborhood,” he said, almost matter of factly.
You can read the rest.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Do We Really Have To Politicize Everything?


A couple weeks ago, I nearly tore my hair out when the news broke that Chili’s had an affiliate who wanted to help diners donate a portion of their meal’s proceeds to Planned Parenthood. Chili’s is where my family eats most often. (Yes, Chili’s — to the jeering of my foodie friends who like to mock!) Thankfully, within just a day or two, Chili’s issued a statement to assure their patrons that the restaurant was not supporting Planned Parenthood and that donations to the abortion giant would not be taking place.
But the news made me tired. For a moment, I thought, Will I no longer be able to enjoy a meal on Sunday afternoon with my family at Chili’s without thinking of the politics of abortion?
These days, the political realm has begun to infringe upon every other aspect of our common life together: sports, religion, retail, and art. We should resist this development, because this infringement flattens our ability to love our neighbors.
You can read the rest.

Monday, February 20, 2017

The True Meaning of Presidents Day


Happy Presidents’ Day.  What are we really celebrating today?
Originally, it was George Washington’s Birthday, honoring the Father of Our Country.  Then Abraham Lincoln, another great American, was thrown in.
Once the holiday was moved to Monday, to give federal workers a three-day weekend, Presidents’ Day became completely unmoored from the date of Washington’s birthday.  Now we use the day to celebrate ALL presidents.
You can read the rest.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Embryo Adoption


A hallmark of the evangelical church in America is the backing of a pro-life worldview. As such, abortion clinics and the politics that govern them are primary areas of focus in this important cause. However, there’s another front that often gets overlooked in the fight for life: the state of the thousands of children who remain cryogenically frozen as human embryos following in-vitro fertilization cycles.
A growing Christian response to this issue is the life-affirming answer of embryo adoption.
You can read the rest.