I moved to Chicago in 2007, within days my heart was torn about how to help the homeless. I often went to the Walgreens next door and every day there was a man outside the front door working for Street Wise and asking for money. I didn’t know what Street Wise was at the time and I didn’t feel comfortable giving him money. Sometimes I did give him money but I didn’t feel right about it. Over time I got to know him. His name was Henry and he stayed in Roger’s Park. One day I decided to ask him what he needed. He said he would love to drink a Vitamin water. So I got him a Vitamin water and Luna bar, which was my favorite snack. He was always thankful for the snacks, but then I realized that what he needed more than a snack was a meal. So I started buying him meals from Walgreens.
I never did buy a newspaper from him, but one day he asked me if I would please take one so I could read his story. Turns out I wasn’t the only one buying him meals–there was another man that was, but he took it 20 steps further. The article talked about how there was a business man who saw potential in Henry. He invited him to his church on Christmas Eve. After church he took him to dinner, and asked him if he could have anything he wanted for Christmas, what would it be? Henry said he had never had his own apartment. The man, who remained anonymous, took Henry apartment shopping and paid for a 1-year lease on an apartment. He met with him weekly, helped him get a state ID, taught him how to manage finances and was in the process of helping him get a job so he could support himself after the 1-year lease was up.
After I read Henry’s story I felt that God was calling me to do something of the same. I wasn’t sure what it was yet, but he had put a passion in my heart to reach the homeless. Passing out a meal was ok but it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough to bring about long-term change.
When CITC started renting the 1040 facility in 2011, I felt the Lord say to me, “1040 can be anything we want it to be. It can be an office space, a meeting space, or…an outreach center.” Also close to that time, CITC had been teaching on the 5 characteristics of a base church, #1 being a Kingdom Center. A Kingdom Center means many things but to me it means “OUTREACH CENTER!!!” We could use 1040 for a food pantry or soup kitchen…my vision was something like, “Evangelism through practical outreach.” The homeless are a hungry people…hungry for food, hungry for relationships, hungry for Jesus. And the Lord has given us the resources to meet all of those needs. We can provide food, we can provide friendships, and we can provide the gospel.
I started talking with Steve [Sudworth] about it and this is all in the process of being started. The Lord has convicted me that it is a season of DOING. The Lord has given me a great sense of urgency about this.
The homeless are waiting.
The unsaved are waiting.
In closing, I thought it appropriate to close with these few verses below:
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. (Acts 4:32 NIV)
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:34-40 NIV)