Spring is a bittersweet season for me in Chicago. From a sports perspective, Spring is awesome because of sports seasons either beginning or ending. The smell of Spring rolling in reminds me of my old days of running track and field. Baseball season also begins for the Cubs and Sox. The Bulls and Blackhawks are starting the playoff run (hopefully). And March madness, of course.
And spring marks the beginning of a ministry season in my neighborhood, which to me is "porch season." Most people in the neighborhood hibernate for the winter, and everyone comes out again as the weather starts getting nicer. And my favorite type of "ministry" comes right at my front porch. Just sitting outside and talking to my neighbors.
So that's the sweet side of a new season.
The bitter side marks what happened last night--18 shootings and 7 killed in Chicago. One of those murders happened just a few blocks away from my house.
So it is also violent season. The gangs also hibernate for the most part, and something about the combination of nice weather and cabin fever makes gangs feel like they have to catch up on 5 months worth of business. Or whatever it is...I don't really know. But the worst part of spring is when people forecast whether it's going to be a hot summer. And they don't mean temperatures.
Lately, people in our church and others have felt led to pray for Chicago....just the whole city. And yes, people always feel led to pray for Chicago, but it just seems like a unique movement is developing to pray for the city. We've already talked about ways to gather local people and ride that wave. I really hope that comes together for us.
We're a small church, and I don't expect us to change gang violence over night. But now is the season to begin praying strategically for these kids and reaching one at a time right wherever we are. It cannot start with the cops or with schools. They play a part, of course, but Christians should not be content to leave it solely or primarily on them. I hate the signs in people's windows that say, "We call the Police."
No, it has to start with the Holy Spirit and with transformation. It has to be a movement, not a law or a program. I pray that God would give us the insight and the boldness to reach just one or two key people at a time, who can then reach the others in their circle. Then blast neighborhoods with signs that instead say, "We love our youth," "We call you family", "We won't abandon you,"...stuff like that.
Even a small church like mine can suit up this season and make a big impact by bringing light to some people. Woe to God's people if anyone else should beat us to it.