Archive for the ‘Women’ Category

Here are two organizations to remember if/when you are looking for help, especially on the South Side. The first organization is called is Sunshine Gospel Ministries. Find more information at:

http://www.sunshinegospel.org/

The second is Friends for Youth. While FFY is a citywide organization, it has an outreach on the South Side at 63rd and cottage Grove. Find out more at:

http://chicagofriendsforyouth.org/Mission.html

Do they call you the OG? Are you a mom or the sister of someone who’s gang affiliated and you don’t know what to do? Are you a female that has been affected by gang violence and in need of support? Do you have a son or daughter who is incarcerated for their gang affiliation? Do you feel threatened or embarrassed by gang-related events that you have no control over? have you lost a son or daughter to the violence? Are you affiliated and are tired of the pain? This may be a chance to find help, as well as peace of mind. God knows your pain and wants to reach out and begin healing the hurt. With that in mind, Crossfire is trying to start a  support group for women who have been affected by the violence of our city streets. You may feel powerless in yourself to make a difference, or you may feel guilty about events that family members have been involved in that have caused pain for yourself or others. We’d like to help. If you are interested in joining other women with similar feelings, please call or text me at 773.294.8849 to start the process rolling. I can also be reached by e-mail at rlg2@uchicago.edu. We’ll set up a central place to meet if we have enough women who want to get involved. There is a lot of pain, guilt, and fear in the OG world, but don’t let the pain destroy you. Let your pain become the catalyst for change and the means of keeping another mom, sister, or girlfriend from experiencing the same loss and heartache you know.

Ron

Be advised that this is a Christ-centered group that believes the local church is the hope if the world, as well as the hope of your family and neighborhood. Give him a chance and he’ll show you that he is bigger than the violence in Chicago.

Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE) addresses the culture, institutions, and individuals that perpetuate profit from or support sexual exploitation. Their work includes prevention, policy reform, and legal services. If you are in need of help to get out of prostitution or sex trafficking, please contact CAASE by phone at 773.244.2230. Find out more on their website at:

www.caase.org

Are you a woman involved in gangs, drugs, or sex trafficking and looking for help? New life for Girls may be exactly the right place for you. New Life for Girls has served women in need since 1972. With five local induction centers (including Chicago) and a Pennsylvania Training Center, this may be the place to turn to when you feel beaten, hopeless, and have no one to trust. Many women have been helped through the work of New Life For Girls and you could be the next one to find new life.

New Life for Girls is a non-profit, Christian, non-denominational, long-term residential facility for women over 18. The program specializes in helping women who are struggling with life-controlling issues such as drug & alcohol addictions, depression, cutting disorders, gambling addictions, abuse issues, etc. There is no charge for food, clothing and shelter while the women are at the facility. The main goal is to help them transform their lives into productive, abundant and happy ones.

The Chicago New Life for Girls induction center is located at 6743 N. Ashland Ave, and their phone number is 773.764.3363. Find out more about their work at their website:

http://www.newlifeforgirlschicago.webs.com/

This is a great website for those who want to know more about the gang lifestyle and how to resist it as an individual and as a community. The site is based in the Washington DC/Virginia area but has links that are valuable to those confronted by the gang culture nationwide. For more information go to :

http://hidtagangs.org/

This site will also allow you to get a free download of Henry Pachero’s book  Gangs 101: Understanding the Culture of Youth Violence. Here is the link:

http://hidtagangs.org/Downloads/Prevention/Gangs%20101%20-%20Understanding%20the%20Culture%20of%20Youth%20Violence.pdf

This is a film you may want to see.  It’s not a Christian film  but it does show something of what it’s like to be out on the streets interrupting violence.  The film shows one year in the life of several Ceasefire violence interrupters, including the challenges, frustrations, and joys of the work. Information on the film can be found at:

http://interrupters.kartemquin.com/

Here’s a blog that those interested in the gang life might be interested in viewing. The blog is not for the faint of heart or those easily offended, but if you can cope, the site can be found at:

http://chicagogangs2011.blogspot.com/

Video: 18St Barrio Fiesiocho XV3St.

http://chicagogangs2011.blogspot.com/2011/03/18st-barrio-diesiocho-xv3st.html

This is a very cool story about how one female G literally saw the light when she tried to commit suicide. It’s yet another example of how God still intervenes in the lives of people today. This young woman is now in school preparing for the rest of her life and working to help other Gs get out of the gang life and find a more meaningful life. Read it. I think you’ll be amazed! And don’t forget, God has a dream for you too! Ask Him about it.

http://www.streetgangstyle.com/street_gangs/street-gang-articles/yall-gang/

Gangs: This is not a way of life

I came from a very close knit family.I am an only child,so it was always just me, my mom and my dad.My father was an alcoholic or another term a functioning drunk.I grew up in a neighborhood that was low class and was known as gang territory.My grandparents were Pachuco’s, so I grew up knowing about the life.My father was mexican and my mother is white.

In school I gained alot of popularity because I had blond hair and blue eyes,but I’m Latin and speak spanish.I started “just hanging” around gang members when I was 8 years old.I quickly started feeling like a little family,which I was not feeling at home,so that felt real good.By the age of 10 I went to my first party with gang members.I liked how much fun I was having hanging out with my new “family” and in the mean while telling my parents I was with friends from school.

At the age of 11 I got jumped into the gang.I was jumped for 2 minutes by four 16 year old guys from my gang.At the age of 11,I took one hell of a beating.I told my mom that I got in a fight at school.So now I was in the gang.”What does that really mean?” I thought that night.All fun and parties all the time?Feeling accepted and wanted all the time?People not hurting me anymore because I now have new respect?

Boy was I WRONG!At the age of 12 I did my first drive by.Here I am as scared as can be in a car full of gang members (like me)going to do a drive by.That same year I had 5 homeboys die.Thats when my grades in school started going down.My mom would ask what was going on with me.I kept explaining nothing.I was an undercover gang member to my parents.I blinded them with this good girlie act.My mom would say that I was dressing and looking like a “chola.”I kept reassuring her that I was just dressing like one,cause I like the style.My parents didn’t want to admit that there little girl could be in a gang.

When I was 14 years old I was stabbed in the leg by a rival gang.So I thought thats all right because I “took one” for my neighborhood…(yeah right!)I used to kick back in my neighborhood drinking 40′s of beer and smoking weed.Thought that was the life.All my friends were getting pregnant and having kids at 11,12,13 etc…By the time I was 18 years old I had 7 miscarriages.I can’t tell you how many time I heard the words “Oh baby I love you,Its me and you forever.” I swear I thought every guy I was with was the one and it was going to last forever.I learned real quick Guys will tell you ANYTHING to get what they want.I had my closest homegirls sleep with my man behind my back.(Good friends huh?)

By the time I was 18 I had lost 46 friends to gang violence.Thats one hell of alot of funerals to go to and alot of innocent families to look into there eyes and say sorry,when down deep inside they are cussing you out because they feel that you are just some gang member that helped him get in that casket.As the the casket is lowered in the ground all your homies are talking about revenge.When I was 19 I was cruising with my homies.There was six of us in the car.Four guys and two girls.I was sitting in the front in between two guys.We were at a stop light.A rival gang drove up on us and shot at us.The guy that was driving was hit in the head and the bullet came out the other side of his head and ricocheted of my head.His brains were splattered all over me.Knowing that one of my closest friends had just died and I had his brains on me I was rushed to the hospital.Thank GOD I was alright.That was another funeral and another loss.

After that I was shot at about a dozen times more.Then when I was 20 I was arrested for homicide.I had no idea what the police were talking about.I sat in a cell thinking after all these years of doing bad that I was getting busted for something I really had no idea about.By the Grace of God,they found out that they had the wrong person.I was never so scared in my life.I thought being stabbed and shot that was bad.I even thought having all these tatoo’s all over my body was bad or the fact that I could have died,but going to jail for something I didn’t do for the rest of my life.So I prayed and prayed.The Lord heard my prayers.After that I thought I owe this to God that I am alive.I owe it to myself and my loved ones to stay alive.

At 21 I decided that I had enough.So one night I was kicking back in my neighborhood.There was about 50 of us that night.I told them I wanted out.I said if you want to jump me out then thats fine,but I want out.I went and talk to one of the Veteranos (older homeboys).They said “You did yours for the neighborhood and you can just walk out with respect because we have repsect for you.”As I was getting ready to leave and saying bye to everyone,knowing that I was still going to see everyone here and there just not kick it anymore.The police rolled up and I thought “I guess one last time.”So there I was on the floor, on my knees, hands behind my head and an officer behind me with a 12 gauge shot gun to the back of my head.After checking everything out they were letting us all go.

These cops who ran the gang unit knew be by name.That night I told them that I was out of the scene.They congratulated and even gave me hugs.Then asked if I needed a ride home.That was the first time I was in a police car without hand cuffs on.My father died that year.I have since became close with my mother and told her all about my undercover life that her and my father only feared but didn’t know about.I think of all the sleepless nights I kept my mother awake wondering if I was dead or alive.I think of all the years I probably took off my mothers life stressing over me.I think HOW could I have done this to her.My mother,my real family.

I saw alot of friends die for my neighborhood,but what does a neighborhood do for you?

You claim a street or hood that you will NEVER own.You pay rent for a neighborhood that will NEVER be yours.I think now about all the funerals where everyone said they would die for there homie,but you know I never seen anyone jump on the casket and go in the ditch with them.When you take a life or have one taken from you,it affects more then just you.There are people that love and will miss and grieve too.Its affects EVERYONE around you.What people don’t understand is that once a life is gone…thats it! NO second chance! Life is only one time.

If you are a gang member PLEASE take it from me there is a REAL life out there.You just have to be strong enough to take a chance and walk away before it is too late.Life is too short anyways…then to let be even shortened by doing time in prison or being dead.If you live a real Gangsters life that is the only two ways out, prison or death.There are so many other things out there in life for you.

If you don’t care enough about yourselves to get out STOP being SELFISH and think about all the loved ones you will leave behind.How will they handle life without a husband, wife, brother, sister, daughter, son, mother, father. Pictures, memories and a cemetary is all they will have left. PLEASE think about it!!!

You can find this article and more at:

http://www.streetgangstyle.com/street_gangs/street-gang-articles/gangs-life/

When I was a kid we learned this little poem in Sunday School that was accented by hand movements.  One’s hands would be locked together with the interlocked fingers facing the speaker and the two index fingers pushed together pointing skyward like a church steeple. The poem goes:

Here’s the church,

this is the steeple;

open the doors

and see all the people!

As we said the last verse we would fling open our hands and wiggle all the fingers, a representation of all the lively people in the church. Cute, but i’m not sure just how lively the church is these days.

I just came home from driving through the South Side of Chicago this evening.  It was only 8:30 and the streets were filled with Gs, everywhere.  A perfectly refreshing night to be out and about. The sights, however, were not so perfect. The police were rousting out a big group of Gs  (maybe Blue Fin Black Disciples, but I couldn’t be sure) gathered at the southeastern corner of Washington Park. A little further on there was a fist fight going on between two 9-10 year old kids with 30 people egging them on. There were prostitutes on one corner and guys slinging drugs on the other. Oh, and there were lots of people who appeared to have already had too much to drink. Everywhere I looked there were people who were headed into eternity without Christ. I tried to do my thing but it was so little and so weak in contrast to the forces gathering out in the streets for the summer. It all seemed a little surreal and I wasn’t quite sure why I was feeling so sad.  Then, I passed a group of guys gathered in front of a church and it struck me.  Where’s all the people, the church people, that is!!!

I started looking past the gathering crowds and what I saw astounded me. Every block had a church building or two safely ensconced on the block, but they were all closed and not a light to be seen.  How ironic, I thought, that if Christians are the light of the world and the local church is the hope of the world, that each church was dark as the night, and whatever hope the building might claim to possess on Sunday was locked away for the night, just when those in the hood needed it most. How sad it seemed that in nearly every case, there were groups of men and women gathering in front of those churches who were without Christ and without hope. I guess they knew that after the Sunday services,  the church took Monday off. maybe the rest of the week too. Sin could sit at the doorstep of the church without even being challenged.

What struck me was that Christians are supposed to be the hands and feet of Jesus, but they were nowhere to be seen. What I saw, however, were the hands and feet of another, a more sinister and demanding master who was sending his cohorts out to enlist even more people to his cause. And everywhere, he was unchallenged! How can that be with Christians inhabiting every one of those blocks. How can it be with buildings everywhere that are dedicated to taking the Gospel (i.e. Good News) to the lost? I’m not trying to be overly critical and I am speaking to myself just as much as I am to all of you, but its time to open the doors of those buildings and start a procession of people going both in and out. There should be people going in who have questions about God and problems He can solve. There should be people going out to proclaim that there is a place where Gs can go to find real life and that there is a person who can give them  a living water that will refresh them and give them hope for the future. That living water will not dry up nor will it run out. If tonight seemed like a perfectly refreshing night, think what it will be like for that G who finds God because someone brought him that living water.

Let me close by saying that the pastors of my church have begun a series of messages where the theme is to “Go Outside,” sort of like the old Nike theme, “Just Do It.” That’s what we all need to do. Go outside, each day of the week, all summer long, and address those kids sitting on your steps with love, hope, and the gospel of  Jesus Christ. What if every church in every Chicago neighborhood found a way to turn the lights of their churches on at night and have people sitting on the steps of their church with a smile, a handshake, and maybe some fresh apple pie. What if every church in every neighborhood took up the challenge to Go Outside for these kids each day of  the summer. One need not go farther than the block your church was built on. In doing that, you’ll probably cross paths with Christians on the next block doing the same thing as you are. Link arms, love each other and pray for the kids you’ve both gone outside to help. Then let the Holy Spirit do his thing and watch what God does this summer. Just “Go Outside” and watch God work. Who knows what stories that will spawned, what ministries will be born, and what lives will be changed…forever. Well, God knows, so when it happens, write to us here at Crossfire. Let us know the miracles you see so that God’s work in one neighborhood will inspire His people in another neighborhood. Just “Go outside.” God will do the rest. Then, maybe some of you will write back something like:

We opened the church.

We turned on the light.

We went outside 

and God lit up the night.

You’ll probably do better with the verse, so don’t hesitate to outdo me on that! In the meantime,

JUST GO OUTSIDE!

I was talking with a G over coffee and he surprised me by saying that he had gone to church for a while.  When I asked him why he stopped going, he said “It was boring.” I was taken aback by that statement, but maybe I shouldn’t have been. I find Christianity to be extremely exciting, but that’s probably because I try to stay out in the action and when I do that, I see God at work all the time.  In fact, there have been those periods of time when I woke up every morning wondering what God was going to do next. The anticipation was palpable. When I told him that, he was intrigued, but also perplexed. That wasn’t his experience at all. As we talked, it became clear that his mother had experienced a meeting with God and that the G had just been along for the ride, at his mom’s urging. His experience with Christianity had been sitting isolated in a church building and watching other people express their faith in ways he could not understand. Sitting there became boring, and ultimately it became a chore, so he left. What might have been more exciting would have been if he was out on the streets talking to people in need and seeing God respond to his prayers for those people. There is certainly a place for believers coming together and encouraging each other, but the real excitement in Christianity comes from going out and challenging the world to try Jesus. It comes from seeing human need and watching God answer your prayers for those in need. It comes from witnessing a person you might least expect, to come to Christ and have his or her life changed for eternity. Real excitement is being with jesus and going wherever he takes you. I can never tell where that will be, but the one thing I can say is that it will NOT be boring!

Here is a wonderful program in Hoffman Estates that serves homeless and at-risk moms and their.  These are moms in need of need of housing, support, serving, and most importantly, hope. Its a very worthwhile program in need of both moral and financial support. You can find further information at the following website.

http://www.fhcmoms.org/

Breaking Ground is a faith community characterized by grace and truth that seeks and develops those who desire to become instruments of lasting change in their community.

Vision
Breaking Ground is a mission-driven not for profit organization building strong inner city communities through self-sustaining entrepreneurial programs and services.  We are a comprehensive community development corporation focused on transforming low income individuals and their communities by offering integrated real estate development, homeownership assistance, job training, and direct employment, along with client-centered services.

Find information about this transformative ministry at:

www.breakingground.net

A great story about using soccer to fight gang violence in South Africa. Go to:

Also go the following ABC Nightline link:

http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/soccer-bars-south-african-prison-soccer-team-turns/story?id=11064441

 Each year the Lake County Jail releases approximately 1,000 women back into our community.  Ninety percent are single moms; 59% do not have high school diplomas, 47% are homeless (or have no positive, crime free place to return to) and only 20% had minimum wage jobs prior to incarceration.   Without positive intervention many of these ladies will return to the street economy drugs and prostitution to survive.  

The House That Grace Built provides intervention for these women at the critical time of being released from jail and provides them with options that include a safe place to live, job and office skills training, personal and spiritual growth and development, parenting skills, financial management and coping skills that will allow them to become self-sufficient and independent of the welfare system. See the website at:
  

http://www.thehousethatgracebuilt.com/