Chicago Hope Church (CHC) – At our last youth group, we asked the students what they think about this time of year. One student answered, “Death.” A few days later, this same student’s cousin got shot multiple times in the head and back in a gang-related attack. His passing was yet one more example of how death has defined the holiday season for him and his family.
Another student, this time in Jason’s Spiritual Growth Group, shared about an experience where he saw his cousin shot right in front of him a week before. This student is a very unassuming and respectful young man whose father and grandfather are both pastors who have been pouring themselves into the city for decades. This shooting was the third shooting that this student found himself in this year. This shooting also took place right in front of their family’s church late on Sunday night. They had stopped to pick up some trash from a food truck in front of the church. His cousin apparently said something inappropriate to someone standing there, and the shooter turned and shot him in the head. When the shooter shot his cousin, our student tackled him and pinned him to the ground while his father took the gun away from him. After sharing this story in one of our group meetings, I asked him to close out our time together in prayer and he proceeded to pray one of the most powerful prayers I have ever heard from someone so young. God is raising up young disciples in Chicago amidst the awful realities that we have to encounter on a daily basis. His deeply dependent prayer spoke to aspects of Spiritual Warfare, healing and power to forgive and carry on. Please pray for the Spiritual, physical, emotional and psychological impact of life in our city on everyone who lives here. Pray also that the Gospel continues to transform our city into a community of love.
Financial Update – Thank you to all of you who blessed us and our ministry by helping us reach our goal of $140,000 by the end of the year. What an encouragement it is to be blessed by God through you. The checks always seem to come on a particularly difficult day of ministry, and God uses them to balance the sorrow with joy. It is amazing to see God at work pushing back the kingdom of darkness and delivering people through the Gospel into His Kingdom of Light!
Jason and Jen Pankau
Chicago Hope Outreach Initiatives
Celebrate Recovery – Our Leaders are being trained on January 25th to launch our first meeting in February.
Youth Group – Our youth ministry continues to bear fruit with more students getting connected and engaged in spiritual conversations. We took our first trip as a youth group to the apple orchard. Many of these students heave never been apple picking before!
Coaching – One of the ways we connect with students and their families is through coaching. Members of our church are involved daily with coaching football, cross country, gym, baseball, and track.
Discovery Bible Studies – We have a Wednesday morning bible study for students at CHA. We are also looking to launch some new Bible Studies in our neighborhoods. As a preamble to bringing people to a worship service, these groups provide an opportunity for people to investigate God’s word and ask questions.
Hope Sports Fellowship – We are looking to launch this outreach through sports of various kinds this Spring.
Hope Home – We have felt led by God to bring Hope students who need parenting and a safe place to grow up into our home. Right now we have two students and are praying about how God wants this ministry to expand into the future.
Please Pray For …
Healing for several people within our church who are struggling with serious health issues including cancer, heart issues, depression, debilitating psychological pain. Please pray for our daughter Julia’s foot to heal – she is now in physical therapy and unable to dance.
Hope House – Will and Treville (the two boys living with us this year) and their journey with God while with our family.
Spiritual Transformation – many of the people that we encounter on a daily basis are either stuck in “religion” or openly hostile to the Gospel. Please pray that God would give people the eyes to see, ears to hear and the courage in their hearts to follow.
Finances – For God to continue to provide us with what we need to serve our community. That God would use our break-in for good and replenish what was taken.
Us as we enter 2020 with the eyes of God. We depend on Him daily to fulfill the mission here at Chicago Hope.
Celebrate Recovery – For the training of our leaders and for our Launch of this vital ministry in February.
Youth Ministry – For Marlon coming on staff full-time and beginning more youth initiatives.
Pankau Family Update
Just after Christmas, we were able to get away for about ten days to have a family vacation together. This time was so desperately needed, and God used it to refuel our batteries. When we returned home, we discovered that our garage and the sheds in our back yard had been broken into and most of our possessions were taken. We have the perpetrators on video camera and the police are investigating, though they tell us not to get our hopes up.
Coming home to this situation after being away as a family created an opportunity for God to teach us some things that are only possible as we live by faith in Him. First, God can turn evil into good. During the process of figuring out what happened, God has used this tragedy to introduce us to some of our neighbors that we hadn’t met yet. Some even said that they would like to visit our church.
Secondly, God is our joy. The next day, before I left for church, God inspired us to believe that all is well and to embrace the attitude that says, “don’t let anyone steal your joy!” This was further confirmed when, at the grocery store, the checkout lady asked me how I was doing. I replied that I was doing well despite the fact that our house was broken into. She replied “Yep, don’t let them steal your joy. They weren’t the ones who gave it to you, so they can’t take it away from you unless you let them!” This was total confirmation of what God was encouraging us to believe.
Third, the battle is not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers of the evil one. Whenever we have seen God move mightily in and through our lives, which is almost a daily occurrence, we see the evil one right there pushing back and trying to create hate and disunity.
As you might imagine, there is a lot of distrust in Chicago, especially between black and white people. Black people feel mistreated and put down by white people and therefore are very hesitant to trust them. The reality is that thieves steal from both in our city indiscriminately. So this past week, as I am still on heightened alert, I saw a man in our alley riding my bike. I confronted him and felt my blood beginning to boil. All of this happened while 20+ people were in our house meeting together and discussing Jesus in our youth group. I kept the man there while I called the cops, who arrived 10 minutes later, and we discussed the issue. Before the cops came, I could sense the old Jason rising up inside of me wanting to punish this man. He claimed that he found the bike frame behind the homeless shelter (which is a half block away from our house) and put his own tires on it. He claimed to be a homeless veteran who did not steal my bike. He also didn’t look like the guys I saw on the video surveillance. When the police arrived, they forced him to begin taking his tires off the bike and give the frame back to me, but God moved me to tell him to keep the bike as God’s gift. He had a very kind face and did not run or get defensive at all. He expressed sadness that the bike was stolen from us and wanted us to have it back.
God gave me the strength to see through my rage and made a friend of a homeless veteran who might just be a person of peace that God uses to help us minister to the 400 homeless people who live next door. God is on the move. Please pray that we will have the Spiritual sensitivity to see people from His perspective and love them with His love.
We are always looking for Partners in Hope!
Through your generosity, we have been able to provide
- Scholarships for tuition
- School supplies & uniforms
- Thanksgiving baskets
- Christmas presents
- Clothes and shoes
- Medical care
- Beds and furniture
- Computers and technology
Most importantly, the love and counsel of God to those who are in danger of losing hope.