Thanks for being a vital part of this ministry! Here is an update from one of our interns:
“When people ask you about Englewood, tell them about this day.”
Katlyn was so right. This day was perfect, and this kind of day is what everyone SHOULD know about. It was Monday, June 12th, my first day here for my two-week internship at Urban Youth & Family Outreach, a beautiful sunny day with not a cloud in the sky, and one of the most exciting days of the summer here in Englewood: water balloon day. Katlyn described it as one of the unspoken traditions here in the neighborhood on hot days like these. Throughout the day we saw people running around the streets with water balloons, water guns, and buckets of water trying to soak one another. It wasn’t long before the ministry became a war zone as well, and it was so fun to splash kids, ambush people with water balloons from thesecond floor balcony, and to see kids running around laughing and well… being kids… I couldn’t help but think that this is the side of Englewood that people don’t hear about and are unwilling to even see for themselves. But this is the side of Englewood that people NEED to be informed of and what we all must continue to hope and pray for.
“When people ask you about Englewood, tell them about this day.” But the day wasn’t over yet.As interns, part of our role is getting to know people in the community, so in the evening, we were eating dinner together, talking to one of our neighbors whose daughter consistently comes to UYFO. I remember I saw this couple walking the streets together. I kept my eye on them as we were talking because I remember someone telling me how that guy has a reputation for domestic abuse - and so I wanted to make sure nothing went wrong. They were walking on the street and a car was driving toward their direction, and so they moved to the side to get out of the way. The car got to where they were, but rather than driving past, it stopped right beside them. And all of a sudden…BANG, BANG, BANG… The car zoomed off and I saw the guy limping away, wailing in pain. Having seen that all unfold right in front of me, I sat there in complete shock; I had just witnessed an attempted murder.
Quickly, we went inside and prayed for what we had just seen. I remember sitting there on the couch, feeling lightheaded and stunned that a couple of hours ago, I was laughing and splashing kids with water balloons - and now I was horrified having witnessed someone try to take away someone else’s life. The scariest part of this was that right in front of this shooting was a porch full of kids innocently playing in their front yard - and they just witnessed a drive-by shooting right before their eyes. It was then that I realized that this is the reality of this neighborhood: a place where joy and young people are ample and vigorous, but in an instant that can be so quickly taken away. It was then that I realized why I was here in Englewood for these two weeks: to pray desperately and to love urgently.
And that was only my first day here at UYFO. Since then, so many other negative things have happened such as neighbors getting evicted and/or people moving away, but many joyful things have occurred as well. We have partnered with a local church to start a Youth Group for the kids, and we’ve shared the Gospel with children, and served to help our neighbors as they were moving out of their homes. We’ve seen God opening new doors to reach our community, and so we are excited to take active steps in our mission to restore our communities in Englewood, Chicago by proclaiming Christ, training in godliness, and empowering the vulnerable. Thecalltopray is great, and we definitely need your prayers, so please join us in praying for this community and for our ministry.
Thanks for your continued prayers and support of this ministry! We have several teams yet this summer and are looking forward to an exciting season of outreach. Pray for their learning, safety, and growth during their times here and a great impact in the community through their love and Gospel proclamation.
Please also continue to pray with us as we are hoping to raise the funds to bring in several new staff members over the next few years. Pray that God would direct us to the right people to be on our staff team and that he would direct us to those whose hearts he has prepared to be on our team as financial partners.
We are also looking for a few people who would be interested in being on our board of directors and volunteers to help with Bible studies on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays and to help with some bookkeeping each week. If you are interested, please let us know!
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