You never know how God is going to use you each day.
As many of you know, over the course of four months last year, both our cars and our house were broken into and robbed, even whilst under video surveillance. We felt firsthand how broken our neighborhood is. Unlike the suburbs, cops didn’t respond to our initial call; instead telling us to “take it up with our insurance company.” Unlike the suburbs, it took three weeks for the detective to come visit, concluding that at the end of his visit, that the surveillance would never render an arrest. The thieves, with glaring audacity, worked as if to know this, as they looked directly into the video camera day in and day out for 5 straight days. Similarly, we have drug dealers shamelessly selling drugs outside our house every minute of every day. Jason’s met a few, as he asks them to move along. With all of this coming against us, we could easily be discouraged and stop reaching out to our community with the love of Christ, but I am reminded of the example of Christ in the poem by Mother Teressa “Do it Anyway”. A couple of lines from the poem say:
“The good you do today, will often be forgotten;
Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway.”
Jason has been befriending one of the local drug dealers who walks in front of our house a lot. His name is Yahweh and he is a Muslim, Black Hebrew Israelite. Boy, was that an easy conversation for Jason to get into: a man who knew that his name meant “God”. And if you know Jason, he did not hesitate to invite him to church. We prayed for him Thursday, Friday and …. On Saturday just before 9am, three doors down, at the corner of our block, there was a triple shooting where three drug dealers were shot. We never know what conversation will encourage someone to believe in Jesus or consider the claims of Christ. We also never know when our last day will be. All we know is, we have never regretted following the Holy Spirit’s prompting to begin spiritual conversations and share the Gospel. As uncomfortable as it can be sometimes, we remember the truths memorialized in this poem and press on.
In spite of the craziness, danger and strife all around us, we have experienced many blessings this month. Our new worship/youth leader, Marlon Washington, led about 18 students and a handful of other guests in a creative arts and worship night. Spoken word, original music, vocal and drum solos, guitar, piano, and choral duets, trios, all student-driven, led the 96 of us into a night of concert and worship to our Great God and Savior (see picture above). What a special evening! God is really using Marlon powerfully in our Chicago Hope community. Students and parents alike flock to him. He has also been a blessing for our own children, as they need a space to process their crazy lives too.
Tuesday nights continue to be a blessing to the small life group that we have going through Celebrate Recovery in preparation for leading the bigger community. We had Trish Karpurk, a trainer from Arizona, out to train us. She was an incredible mentor throughout the difficult process, gently reminding us why we’re doing what we’re doing, and guiding us through our troublesome internal communications.
With God’s guidance and power, we were able to deliver one of our students from a demonic attack this past weekend. God continues to do many miracles in our midst. God is on the move and continues to give us the strength to navigate through the ups and downs of the city. There’s no doubt that God’s provision for our ministry girds us and encourages us to persevere. We love and need you. Thank you for being part of our team!
Jason and Jen Pankau
Celebrate Recovery – Our leaders have been trained and have launched a small group to go through the curriculum before expanding to the community this summer.
Discovery Bible Studies – We have a Wednesday morning bible study for students at CHA, led by students in our youth group. Marlon leads a creative arts club at the school twice a week. Jason leads a spiritual growth group of 12 as well. These groups provide an opportunity for people to investigate God’s word and ask questions before committing to church.
Youth Group – Our youth ministry, led by Marlon, continues to bear fruit with more students getting connected and engaged in real spiritual conversations. Students often come and go, but more are realizing that they cannot live without this group’s weekly encouragement and accountability.
Hope Sports Fellowship – We are looking to launch this outreach through sports of various kinds this Spring.
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. Pictured above are two of the 14 students who are learning to throw the shot put and discus with the indoor and outdoor track team.
Hope Home – This week, God blessed the two seniors that live with us in our Hope Home. Will, our 6’6 basketball phenom, signed with the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. And Tre, our football/basketball star, was accepted into the University of Chicago and will play football for them! What superb accomplishments – GOD gets all the GLORY here! This was not an easy feat for either one of them!
Community Outreach – We met 40 new people in our community at our Toy Give-away, as we continue to build strong community relationships. This particular event was hosted at our local park district, where Jason regularly works out and ministers to their staff. This provided us with an amazing opportunity to get to know some of the homeless population in our neighborhood, as well as many people who don’t have resources to provide toys to their own children. One of the ministries that we partner with, Lutheran Church Charities, generously provided the toys, which served as a great platform to get to know our neighbors, a couple of whom have come to worship with us.
Music & Arts Ministry – Marlon has invested in a dozen students since January to develop their God-given talents.
PLEASE PRAY FOR …
Healing – 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 still in physical therapy and unable to dance.
Hope Home – Will and Treville (the two boys living with us this year) and their journey with God while with our family. Please pray that God would show us who He wants us to invite to join into the environment of our disciple-making family next year.
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. We depend on Him daily to fulfill the mission here at Chicago Hope.
Evangelism – Please pray for a good friend of ours who is contemplating joining us in ministry here in the city. He is a gifted evangelist, has experience running sports ministries, is fluent in Spanish, and could really help us get the word out.
Celebrate Recovery – We have begun developing our core leadership team. Please pray for God to send us more female leaders. This will enable us to be fully staffed for our expected launch into the community this spring.
Youth Ministry – For continued growth and maturity of our current students and for more students to get connected. Pray for the other seniors in our youth ministry that await their college decisions.
Community Outreach – Please pray that God would give us favor as we continue to reach out and connect with our community.