Category Archives: Stories

Journey of Obedience

In 2007 Brian Anderson encountered the same homeless man each day at an expressway exit on his way to work. One morning as he was preparing his lunch, the Lord prompted him and he decided to prepare a lunch for the homeless person too. On the second day of giving him a lunch, he greeted him with “Good Morning,” and in return  the man thanked him for the lunch. He then proceeded to rave about the tomatoes included in the lunch stating that they were the best he had ever eaten and concluded by saying, “tomorrow could you put a little more mayo on my tuna sandwich?” At that point they began to talk every morning.  As the  weather got colder Brian would take him out and buy him a cup of coffee and they would talk about his life. Brian asked him how he dealt with the cold winters. He said that on really cold days he would panhandle for enough money to ride the “L” day and night. He felt he had made a new friend, but one day about one and a half months later the man wasn’t in his usual spot. For the next few weeks Brian would get off at different exits looking for him, but he was never able to find him. In his quest to find him, he began to notice how many homeless people there were on the streets. He felt such a burden that he prayed to God for a plan. A month later the Lord asked him about a 1000 square foot bungalow he and his wife owned and rented in Englewood. The building stood vacant, having been wrecked by the previous renters. The Lord prompted him to rehabilitate the bungalow converting it into a food pantry. Shepherds HOPE Chicago opened in March, 2009 and served supplemental food to 60 families its first day.

When the doors to Shepherds HOPE opened in 2009, there were 3 drug houses on the street and violence was almost a daily occurrence; that is no longer the case. From the beginning Brian realized it was not just about the food, but about establishing relationships and trust that lead to personal and community transformation. The guests are treated with respect and dignity. Typically they will be greeted as they wait in line by one of our leaders whose primary goal is to hear their stories, build relationships, and share the hope Christ can bring to their lives. Over time incredible relationships have been built and people return not just for the food but to find help for the struggles they face every day. The pantry has become a safe haven and children regularly stop in after school to show homework, get a treat and simply feel loved. Shepherd’s HOPE has only two paid staff people. (Many of those volunteers were among the troublemakers when the pantry first opened.)  An attitude of mutual respect and positive behavior is encouraged and now  the volunteers and guests even monitor those qualities among themselves when someone forgets or a new person arrives. A specific example of change occurred on November 22, 2011 when the bags of  food for Thanksgiving Dinner were distributed. People began to arrive at the pantry at 6:30 am and waited patiently in a line  during a 40 degree rain storm.  The line extended all the way to 57th  street (about ¾ of a city block – more than 350 people) by the time the food distribution began at 9:00 am. Brian walked the line and greeted each neighbor with a Happy Thanksgiving, a hug and a blessing from God. Each person returned the hug with their own gratitude and blessing. This was an unbelievable transformation from previous years. Moreover, the servant hearts of the community volunteers who also warmly greeted their neighbors throughout the day in the challenging weather were an inspiration to all. Today the neighborhood around Shepherds HOPE is a safe and more compassionate community!

Brian and his wife Laura have made huge personal sacrifices to make Shepherd’s HOPE become a reality. When Brian first proposed the idea of creating a food pantry in the bungalow they owned, Laura wondered if Brian had lost his mind and pointed out that this was one of the poorest and most dangerous areas in the country!  Brian’s response: “That is what makes it so appealing to the Lord.” After months of conversation and prayer, they decided to launch their ministry to feed people and rebuild lives. As the journey has progressed, Laura also has been amazed by the transformation that has occurred in the community. Brian and Laura’s dedication and hard work have resulted in a leadership team of volunteers who help guide the organization. They have inspired many individuals to come alongside and support the ministry financially.  Perhaps the best testament to Brian’s character is that he (a white man from Inverness) has been accepted by the people of Englewood as someone they trust.  A man of God who trusts God totally and  puts his faith in action.

With grass roots support of family and friends, small businesses and church groups, Shepherd’s HOPE has been able to provide groceries to thousands of families.  The food pantry is the catalyst and Step 1 of the 5-step program that will allow them to make the Lord’s vision of transforming lives, rebuilding communities, and creating HOPE through Christ a reality.

In March of 2016, Shepherd’s HOPE will have completed 6 years of serving their neighbors in Englewood.  We will have gone from serving one homeless man a homemade lunch to touching the lives of over 8,000 people a month (providing them with over 1.4 million pounds of food annually) all out of that 1000 square foot bungalow.  God gets the glory!

In 2010, we started a Saturday morning men’s bible study that is still going today.

In 2011, the Lord prompted Shepherd’s HOPE to create a collaborative of like-minded ministries and call it “The Way.”

“The Way” started church services in 2011 in a rented church and today “The Way” has 2 church services a week along with 3 bible studies.  This was all done to make step 2 of the 5-step program – combating lack of spiritual awareness in this community – a reality.

For more information on the 10 collaborative partners in “The Way” ministry click here.

Story Behind the Journey

On April 6, 1949 the story begins.  Brian Kris Anderson was born to Marie and Norman Anderson on the northwest side of Chicago.  Brian was the first of three children brought into this world by Marie and Norman and the only son.

I was raised by a school teacher and full time housewife in the West Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago.  We lived in an apartment building which was owned by my grandparents.  So besides my parents, my grandparents were a major influence in my life.  I was an average student.  My interests were in math and science.  I loved playing baseball and football and also speed skated in national competition.  My love and ability to play the game of baseball got me a scholarship to Northeastern Illinois State University.  It was the only way I would have been able to afford college.  My life was one blessing after another by getting to play baseball at a very high level and at a young age getting to know Jesus as my Savior.

That relationship with Jesus continued all the way until my senior year in college.  In my sophomore year I met a beautiful young lady.  This relationship with this beautiful lady changed my life forever….(Click to read more)

On December 26 Brian was interviewed by Robert Lambert on WYLL’s Faith Marketplace program.  Click here to listen to his 12 minute interview.

You can also listen to the full program and other faith stories on the WYLL website.

Mary’s Video Story

Mary Griffin’s story depicts a way of life very familiar in the under resourced and devastated community of Englewood.  Brian Anderson first met Mary while she was eating lunch at the Family Feeding Center.  She shared the story of her life with him while partaking of one of the few hot meals she would have during that week.  Here is her story.

VIEW PART 1 OF THE VIDEO

It was the middle of winter 2014-15 when Mary brought Brian to the building where she was living.  The building was abandoned; there was no heat, no electricity, and no running water.  Using a flashlight, she showed him the boxes she had stacked in the living room containing everything she owned.  In the small bedroom was a bed where she slept during the night wearing all her clothing, including her winter outer wear and about 6 blankets, always attempting to stay warm during the cold winter nights.  Shepherd’s Hope purchased a sleeping bag for her to help stay warm during below-freezing temperatures at night.

Mary was attending Kennedy King College where she would spend most of the day there during the winter to stay warm.  On Wednesday and Friday she would come to the Family Feeding Center (which was only a block away).  Mary would come there for a warm meal and she would sit with Brian and share how things were going in her life and the ways God was walking with her each day.

About mid-winter the weather forecasters were predicting a long spell of frigid temperatures.  All Brian could think about was Mary living in that abandoned building.  He prayed, asking the LORD if it would be alright to offer Mary one of the rooms in the basement of the pantry during the cold spell, a place where she could stay with heat and a place where she could take a hot shower

VIEW PART 2 OF THE VIDEO

Mary ended up staying at the pantry for about two-months during the cold spell and beyond, volunteering at the pantry between classes.  About one month into her stay she received a part time job at Hope High School as part of their safe-passage program.  After the end of her two-month stay with Shepherd’s Hope she moved in with her aunt.  Today she has a full time job at Chicago State University, still walking with the Lord and thanking Him for what He has done in her life.

It was only because of her obedience and willingness to walk through the storms of life with her eyes focused on Him that she was lifted up.  She totally trusted the LORD with her life.  Through the turmoil and suffering, her relationship with the LORD grew exponentially.  GOD GETS ALL THE GLORY!!!

Thank you LORD for making Shepherd’s Hope, in a small way, part of this journey.

 

 

Mary’s Interview

Tell us a little about yourself and your time living in Englewood.  It’s been an adventure. I’m originally from the Lawndale neighborhood. I had to move here to be by relatives after my father passed away, lost my job, and my unemployment benefits ran out. The landlord has been generous and allowed me to stay during these hard times. Shepherd’s Hope and The Way are a God send! Today, you are looking at it. This is the only meal I will have today here at the Family Feeding Center. Without this meal I would have nothing to eat today. The other food pantries are far away, making it difficult for me to get there. The food here is delicious. All the people here are kind-hearted to everyone who comes in the door. This environment is very rare in the community. Also, there is ministerial help given from a Biblical perspective.

What impact has the Family Feeding Center had on you?   The Family Feeding Center has provided me with new friends. I don’t know where I would be without this ministry. I have also received clothes, always with a kind word. This is a place that I look forward to the most. It doesn’t just feed me physically but spiritually. I’m reminded of scripture: Psalms 5:12 (KJV) “For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.”

How would you define a good community?  People who are willing to help you out, but at the same time they give you the freedom to decide how and when to assist. In a good neighborhood people would make themselves available to help others. Unity is very important. People need to come together under one common denominator.  Also, it’s important for everyone to take care of their space by keeping everything nice and livable. The community needs to work together to build, team work must happen on every level.

What would you like to see happen in Englewood during this next year?  Well, recently my building was broken into and they stole the heating radiators and piping right out of the building. I dream of the day when crime doesn’t exist and there are no drugs flowing in, out or on the streets of the neighborhood, a day when every foreclosed building is protected from vandals and quickly sold to new owners to keep the property values stable. Then for the kids, a solid after school program with a wide variety of activities tailored to meet their learning needs.

What community responsibility do you see yourself doing during this next year?  To continue to help out at the food pantry. I would like to spend more time sitting down and talking with people, like yourself, about our current situation and how to build up the community. I’ve been on the Internet lately to study work ethics in different parts of the world to understand what will inspire Englewood to work hard, with a purpose. The streets provide a quick profit but one’s character and identity dies just as quickly. I would like to inspire others to work hard at volunteering to start the slow process of building up their character and identity slowly. This will build a foundation for them to interview well for a good job in the future.

Anything else you would like to share with others in the community?  I actually thank God for the situation I’m in right now. These experiences money can’t buy!

Darryl’s Story

Darryl ColemanDarryl Coleman: what a story! Darryl and I have known each other for about 12 years. Before I knew him, he was a self-proclaimed gang banger, always hustling the streets. When he came to work for my construction business, he was a man seeking Christ. This seeking journey which was “self” motivated took him through the dregs of what he called the Christian community. I had the “pleasure” (tongue in cheek) of meeting some of the self-purveying men of God. Every one of them was out to use God for their own personal gain. What a pity. Darryl seemed to gravitate to these people, which didn’t say too much about his Christian journey. So Darryl, while trying to change his life to rise out of the muck and mire of the world seemed to be getting further away from the Lord because of the distorted gospel that was being preached. He eventually became a part of these organizations for short periods of time, but the prosperity gospel being taught and the shady deals going on behind the scenes finally opened Darryl’s eyes to the blasphemers’ life styles, which actually ended in a jail sentence for one of them.

It was at this point that we were in the planning stages of Shepherd’s HOPE. Darryl was starting to come around on a regular basis. He became a part of the first volunteer team and was now a part of a Bible-believing church. He became a mentor of that first group of volunteers. After serving for about two years and mentoring a couple groups of volunteers, Darryl and his new wife Theresa decided that they wanted to do something for the LORD through a preschool for children of mothers who had limited or no funds for childcare. About 2 years ago they opened Pass-it-on Academy at 63rd and California. Because of their limited funding, Shepherd’s HOPE supplied the food for the program so the children could eat. The daycare is in another devastated area of Englewood. Darryl says the meal the children get at the academy is the only meal many of the children will eat all day. Today they also have an after school program for the children of this community who really need a safe place to go when school is out. Last winter Shepherd’s HOPE partnered with Darryl and Theresa to provide winter coats and gloves for their students. What a blessing they have been for this community and GOD’s kingdom. Thank you, Darryl and Theresa for being selfless servants, stepping out of your comfort zone and giving it all up to JESUS. I know how much you both have suffered, but I also know from experience that if you stay obedient to GOD’s will, He will take care of the rest.

Today Pass-it-on Academy serves 50 children from this Englewood community. Darryl and Theresa use this ministry to love on these children by teaching them how to live a biblically based life, teaching them right from wrong; in a culture where “feel goods” take precedence over living life by GOD’s standards. Only GOD!  Watch a video of Darryl’s story.

This is just one of many stories of how God has used Shepherd’s HOPE to bring the light of JESUS to lost souls and then how he has used these people to help build HIS kingdom. Amen!

To keep this life change taking place and GOD’s kingdom growing in the Englewood community we need your support. We really need your help in these tough economic times. Many of the programs for the poor in Englewood have closed in recent years. Please help keep God’s light shining brightly in this neighborhood.

NOTE: Pass-It-On Academy is also part of THE WAY, a collaborative of ministries working together to serve Englewood one life at a time.

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Testimonial from Phil

Phil WA couple of months after Shepherd’s Hope opened I started volunteering at the food pantry.  I met Darryl Coleman,  a minister and a regular volunteer at Shepherd’s Hope who tried to help me and a couple of other guys from the neighborhood.  I was a gang member and had done some time in prison.  The other guys were also going nowhere in their lives.

Darryl spent many hours with us.  We all volunteered on a regular basis for about 8 months while Darryl found us day jobs working for people he knew.  Life was rough for all of us trying to keep a roof over our heads and working sporadically.  We also attended church with Darryl on Sundays but eventually the 3 of us broke away and stopped volunteering at the food pantry.  Darryl kept in touch with me but things were going south fast.    I faced many tough situations during the next 6 months.  I would call Darryl and tell him how bad life was for me and that I needed food and a bus pass so I could go look for a job.  We would meet and Darryl would give me what I asked for, but he also prayed with me.  He urged me not to go back to the old ways and to remember what I had learned about dignity and staying on the straight and narrow while serving with my Christian brothers at the pantry.  He reminded me of the hope I can have in Jesus who will get me through all the tough times.

ChoicesThen I had my biggest test; my older brother got out of prison.  About a week after being released from prison my brother called and told me that he had a line on a large amount of crack cocaine and all we had to do was work the streets selling the drugs and we would make a fortune.  I went home and thought about it, and all I could think about was the food pantry and what I had learned there about living the right way and the narrow path that separated the Christ followers from the ways of the world.  The following day I met with my brother and told him I was done with his life style.  I had been trying for months and had come a long way and I was going to keep struggling until I found a job.  One week later my efforts paid off.  I got a (legitimate) job in sales where I get to travel all across the country.  Now I enjoy stopping in at the food pantry and letting them know how well things are going.  It is truly amazing what can happen when you are faithful and obedient to our Lord, Jesus Christ.

-Phil W

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The Yellow House

yellowBuildingAfter Brian had been feeding the homeless man and was unable to find him after a month or so of meeting, the Lord directed him to use a bungalow he and his wife owned to make a food pantry.  When the team of volunteers from the suburbs first started working on the 1,000 square foot bungalow at 5732 S Lowe in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago, the neighbors were very aloof and skeptical.  One day as Brian was working on the renovation, a young man, who lived in the house next to the pantry, approached him and asked what he was doing.  Brian told him they were preparing to open a food pantry to serve the community.  The young man’s face lit up with a smile as he exclaimed, “I knew it!  They all thought you were setting up some sort of sting operation (there were 3 drug houses on the block at the time).  I knew you were bring something good.  I am going to paint my house yellow so they will know this is a place of light!”  This was on a Thursday and when Brian came to work on Monday, the entire house was indeed all painted a very bright yellow. Donate secure green small

How Shepherd’s HOPE Began

In 2005 Brian encountered the same homeless man each day at an expressway exit on his way to work.  One morning as he was preparing his lunch, he decided to prepare a lunch for the homeless person too.  On the third day of giving him lunch, he greeted him with “Good Morning,” and in return the man thanked him for the lunch.  He then proceeded to ask about the tomatoes included in the lunch stating that they were the best he had ever eaten and concluded by saying, “tomorrow could you put a little more mayo on my tuna sandwich?”  At that point they began to talk every morning.  As the weather got colder Brian would buy him a cup of coffee and they would talk about his life.  Brian asked him how he dealt with the cold winters.  He said that on really cold days he would panhandle for enough money to ride the “L” day and night.  He felt he had made a new friend, but one day the man wasn’t in his usual spot.  For the next few weeks Brian would get off at different exits looking for him, but he was never able to find him.  In his quest to find him, he began to notice how many homeless people there were on the streets.   He felt such a burden that he asked God for a plan.  Weeks later he realized he could use a 1000 square foot bungalow he and his wife owned and rented in Englewood. The building stood vacant, having been wrecked by the previous renters.  He saw the potential for rehabilitating it into a food pantry.  Shepherds HOPE Chicago opened in March, 2009 and served supplemental food to 60 families its first day.

pantryBuildingHelping that first man was a good deed, but Brian was not content with that action. Instead he persisted through many obstacles, created an organization and today the pantry feeds over 500 families per week during 2 four-hour days of operation.  Shepherds HOPE Chicago has fed over 6000 different families (more than 20,000 men, women and children).  That is heroic!  But even that was only the beginning.  Bible studies are held once a week.  Thanksgiving Dinner food distributions and Christmas parties for the children have been provided.   Add to that a block party, soup kitchen, aquaponic farming, ministry partner church services.  All of this can happen because one man decided to do something about a hungry homeless man and God blessed his efforts.

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GOD and Only GOD!

We have been praying that GOD would send us someone to help us with the community center, somebody with experience in guiding and educating youth and teenagers.  About a month ago a woman sat next to Brian in his northwest suburban church and he quickly learned she had traveled all the way from 110th and Morgan in Chicago.  Marsha Eaglin introduced herself and in discussion Brian found that she was the executive director and founder of a ministry called Impact Family Center.  This ministry’s focus is youth and teenagers in the Roseland community.  Thank you GOD!

home for familyA few weeks later while Marsha and Brian were meeting at Shepherd’s Hope discussing how she could bring her expertise to our community in Englewood, she mentioned the need of a family who had four girls that were part of her ministry.  Marsha shared the story of this single mom with 6 daughters and one grandchild living in a house for over 2 months with no heat or hot water.  They were desperately looking for a new place to live.  Brian offered the name of a friend who had a beautiful 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath house for rent.

Some weeks later, Brian was attending an event at Impact Family Center in Roseland.  A young lady shared her testimony with tears running down her cheeks explaining that Miss Marsha had found their family a beautiful house with heat and hot water so they could take showers again after living for over 2 months without heat and hot water.

Brian, realizing that this was the family Marsha and he had talked about, put his head down, holding back the tears and saying, “Thank you GOD!  Thank you GOD!

https://soundcloud.com/shepherds-hope/only-god-moment

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Thanksgiving 2012

waiting-in-lineWhen the doors to Shepherds HOPE opened in 2009, there were 3 drug houses on the street and violence was almost a daily occurrence; that is no longer the case.  From the beginning Brian realized it was not just about the food, but about establishing relationships that lead to personal and community transformation.  The guests are treated as real people with respect and dignity.   Typically they will be greeted as they wait in line by one of our leaders whose primary goal is to hear their stories, show concern and share the hope Christ can bring to their lives.  Over time incredible relationships have been built and people return not just for the food but to find help for the struggles they face every day.  The pantry has become a safe haven and children regularly stop in after school to show homework, get a treat and simply feel loved.

Shepherd’s HOPE has only one full-time paid staff person; 90% of the volunteers come right out of the neighborhood.  (Many of those volunteers were among the troublemakers when the pantry first opened.)  An attitude of mutual respect and positive behavior is encouraged and now the volunteers and guests even monitor those qualities among themselves when someone forgets or a new person arrives.

A specific example of change occurred November 22, 2012 when the bags of food for Thanksgiving Dinner were distributed.  People began to arrive at the pantry at 6:30 am and waited patiently in a line during a 40 degree rain storm.  The line extended all the way to 57th street (about ¾ of a city block – more than 350 people) by the time the food distribution began at 9:00 am.  Brian walked the line and greeted each neighbor with a Happy Thanksgiving, a hug and a blessing from God.  Each person returned the hug with their own gratitude and blessing.  This was an unbelievable transformation from previous years.  Moreover, the servant hearts of the community volunteers who also warmly greeted their neighbors throughout the day in the challenging weather were an inspiration to all.  Today the neighborhood around Shepherds HOPE is a much safer and more compassionate community!