I'm going to Chicago. (No, not right now, silly! In September!) Actually, when you get technical about it, I'm going to be living in Chicago. For a year. On the South Side. In a neighborhood called Roseland. I'd normally tell you to Google it, but I actually don't recommend that unless you want to be painted a pretty bleak picture. From the statistics and news reports, it doesn't look like a place I would frequent. But, I'm striving to look at the positive, non-scary parts.Like this doughnut shop. So, here's some facts about Roseland.
It began as a neighborhood of Dutch immigrants. Then, a guy named Pullman came in and built a factory to build parts for his railroad company. During this time of industry in the late 1800s, Roseland flourished. At this point in time, there were "real stores" that were built to serve people on the South Side. It wasn't a "bad" place to go. But, in the 1960s, a lot of the industry stopped. There was new technology that could build the things people needed, so steel mills stopped production. In the 1980s, Pullman's railroad supply factory shut down. There was rapid "ethnic succession" that took place and crime skyrocketed. Most affluent people moved to the nearby city of Pullman (in a phenomenon normally referred to as white flight). Gangs took over. In the 1990s, Roseland gained notoriety after the death of Robert Sandifer, a child who was executed by his gang at the age of eleven.
What about the local high school--Fenger, where last year 6 percent of its students met or exceeded standards on the reading portion of the ISAT [Illinois State Achievement Test]. The same for math. The PSAE was no better. This year, 6.3 percent for reading and 1.1. percent for math. You read that right. Out of 189 students taking the PSAE in math at Fenger, only two met or exceeded standards. Where's the outrage? 99 percent of its students are considered low income. Roseland suffers from high foreclosures and a third of its residents live in poverty, but it can't get stimulus dollars for job training and renovating houses. (Credit: Here)
As you can see above from the simple history (thanks to Wikipedia), Roseland used to be a neighborhood that flourished. It used to have a hope for the future. But, due to a chain of events, the hope was lost. Now, it's up to them to find that hope again. And, I believe that "that hope" is found in Jesus Christ. I believe that by showing these people the love of God and by showing them that other people care about them, a whole lot of change can happen. Does it happen overnight? Of course not. But, over time (more than just the year I will be there), things will change. Hope will be found again.
And-about that whole "danger" thing--since some people have asked-- if I was scared....it's not that much different than some parts of Montgomery. I mean, downtown Montgomery started off pretty great too. But due to some events, that also went downhill. The crime statistics may not be exactly the same, but Chicago's a bigger city. And besides- MY GOD is greater and stronger than anyone who may seek to do evil against me. Nothing will happen that is not within his perfect will. I am so excited to see what God is going to do in this upcoming year--if nothing else, He will change my perspective on some of the hurting people in this world today. Change doesn't happen overnight, but I believe that a difference to at least one person can be made in a year.