Over the next few months we are going to be sharing with you the stories inside the story of Shepherd’s HOPE, the real reason the Lord sent us to this Englewood community in Chicago. We all know the story of the million pounds of food distributed annually touching 7000 lives on a monthly basis through our food pantry and of our new addition “The Family Feeding Center” that is feeding 400 people a week a nutritious hot meal. The LORD brought us these venues to this Englewood community with the plan that the people who we serve there would take ownership of these venues. Neighbors serving neighbors; that’s how it was designed. We were sent there as mentors, to show them how to be the hands and feet of JESUS so they would know what it looks and feels like to serve others. And what a job these volunteers have done! By putting their self agendas aside so they can serve neighbors, they have made this little “Food Pantry” and “The Family Feeding Center” the most talked about feeding facilities in Englewood (if not Chicago). The people rave about the food but most of all they rave about how they are treated. Serving others is the reason we were created and it brings out the best of who we are and who we were created to be in Christ. Jesus said when you serve the least of these, you are serving Me.
We have been serving the Lord in this community for over five years; we have hundreds of volunteers that are part of the Lord’s story in this Englewood community. In the next 12-24 months we will share some of the stories of the people who gave up their selfish life styles of gang banging, alcohol and drug abuse or serving themselves in some other manner outside of God’s will, to become people who found that serving others offered a lot more than living the selfish self-absorbed, self-indulged, self-pitying life styles that were a way of life for them.
A.W. Tozer in his book “The Knowledge of the Holy” reminds us that God is the creator. The creator is in charge but man wants to be independent from God and do what he wants to do. This independence God calls sin.
These volunteers were living in sin and decided to become selfless and help serve their neighbors… and it changed their lives. We can never really get to know who JESUS is until we are willing to step away from our self driven lives and be willing to serve and really get to know people less fortunate than ourselves. This month I am sharing the story of Darryl Coleman, one of our first volunteers and of how volunteering at Shepherd’s HOPE has changed his life.
Darryl 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.