In The Midst!

I am writing this to encourage those of us who have a loved one struggling in the midst of a storm, and there's nothing we can do or say to stop them from being swept under...
I am writing this because when we're in the midst of the storm, it's hard to find hope and know the end of the story. All we often see or get caught in is the tragedy of NOW.

I am writing this to encourage us not to give in or get caught in the NOW, but rather, to keep moving on the path by continuing to love, forgive, and show compassion to those in need. 

I am writing this to encourage us to keep on planting seeds. We don't know when or if these seeds will sprout, how big the tree will become, or how many birds of the air will come and find rest in her branches.  
This story I'm about to tell has been adapted from a sermon I delivered at The Bridge last week (see below). I am not using his real name...Sam is African; from Ghana, I believe. I don’t know all the ins and outs of his story. I don&#…

Kingdom Love: Confronting the Empire!

Almost 22 years ago I flew into Chicago and landed in Uptown. It was winter, and I remember that on most nights the hallway into my house was occupied by people huddled under piles of blankets trying to get a little sleep on the cold hard floor. I spent quite a few hours chatting with and getting to know these neighbors, realizing how it was only a couple degrees warmer than outside, but a blessed escape from the harsh Chicago wind. Some of these men and women I still have the pleasure of knowing today!

It was while my fingers, nose, and toes were freezing in this cold hallway I found myself being challenged in new ways. Seeing and feeling a reality is very different from reading or knowing about it! My thought process and empathy increased, and even more so when I started working in CCO soon after. 

I was getting to know my neighbors, and it caused me to notice the injustice and ask many questions. Why should they not have a warm bed to climb into, like I do? Even though they're do…

Displacing An Already Displaced People!

Walking down Wilson, my street I call home
Walking through Uptown, my ‘hood I call home
My home, where change is tearing apart it’s very fabric
My home, sadly displacing an already displaced people

Buildings rising up before my eyes
The streets becoming more silent
Building up and casting out
The streets becoming less diverse

oh...the ongoing curse of gentrification

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
The marginalized are sacrificed to appease vanity
Deceiving words promote a brighter future
The poor languish in the name of progress 

Oh...the bitter deafening cries of “holier-than-thou”

Exclusive block clubs use their power to exclude
Segregating officials use their criminalizing prowess to further segregate
Predatory developers use their wealth to pounce on their prey
Discriminatory committees use the system to discriminate

Why do tent cities live rent-free in the minds of the wealthy? Why does a transient hotel full of poor old men terrify those relaxing on couches? Why does Section 8 housing occupy t…

It's Political: Building Up and Casting Out

People think gentrification is all about making things prettier and more beautiful, but it ain’t! People think it’s just about building up and creating revenue, but it ain’t! Such views are superficial and a great use of propaganda, because they make us believe no one gets hurt or suffers because of it! 

Gentrification is about intentionally casting out those who don’t “look right”. Those who don’t fit the mold are systematically and strategically forced out of the neighborhood. It’s about making people conform. It’s about closing “problematic” buildings and replacing them with “righteous” ones. It’s about jacking up the rent to unaffordable rates. It causes trauma, evictions, homelessness, and relocations. 
Unfortunately, all this is done in the name of progress and diversity. It’s often done by so-called richer Democrats or liberals, and backed by Republicans - they ironically find common ground in their quest to exclude those already marginalized. To fit in, people need to meet *thei…

It's Political: Deemed Unworthy and Unsightly

In Uptown, some people are deemed unworthy and unsightly at the expense of those considered worthy and highly favored! They are judged because of how they look! They are condemned because of their pasts! They are criminalized because of who they are, not what they’ve done! They are marginalized and not given a voice! When someone faces such judgments and actions, it is traumatic and heart-wrenching, making what shouldn’t be political, political.

Repeatedly, throughout the years, I've seen how decisions are made to favor those with money, power, and property! Not only that, decisions are intentionally made to make life harder and more traumatic for those already struggling. Decisions are made to appease and gratify those with wealth while ignoring and silencing the voices of those who feel they’ll never be heard at all. This is the never-ending struggle of a gentrifying neighborhood like Uptown. It is the eternal battle of rich and poor coexisting, where the elite win favor and get …

My Journey to Hope

BACK THEN: My Own Hopelessness
As a teenager, I fell into a dark place. A very dark place! I felt no hope; there was no light at the end of the tunnel. Hopelessness and despair had consumed me, and so much so, I was convinced that death was the only way out! 
Obviously, I never made that fatal step and never made a suicidal attempt. What I did do daily is this; I would play with razor blades on my wrists and beg to God that I’d slip or that He would just end it all for me. 
Every Sunday evening, I went to church at the time. I went because my parents forced me too, not because I wanted too. In my own passive-aggressive resistance, I arrived late and left early, justifying myself to be consumed with all the depressing, judgmental and angry thoughts that circled throughout my whole being! 
Hope could not be found, so I returned home and played 2 Metallica songs “One" and "To live is to die" over and over and over again at full volume until the rest of my family came home. Thi…