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Sitc Paper

  1. 1. INTRODUCTION It was about six o’clock on a Wednesday evening in Chicago, and life in the city was going on as usual. Even though many people were heading home from work via car, train, and bus, tourists and residents still flooded the streets of the business district, the walkways of the lush parks, and the sitting areas of the famous cuisines. In Millennium Park, many tourists stood gawking at the glossy twenty-six million dollar sculpture titled “Cloud Gate” – or better known as “the Chicago Bean.” The trains going toward the city were packed with chatty White Sox fans heading away from a victorious baseball game. Not too many miles away, a homeless middle-aged African-American woman named Sharon stood at the end of a freeway exit ramp near Chinatown, peddling for money. A stump was all that was left of her left arm, and she had a very bad hobble. I was passing by her on my way back from eating some good Korean food, and my heart broke when I saw her. I glanced in my wallet; all I had was twenties. I started walking away at that point, but after pausing and looking at her again, I walked over and put one in her cup. Sharon was extremely thankful, and she asked me for my name so she could pray for me. With moist eyes, she thanked me for providing her dinner that night. Throughout my summer with Campus Crusade for Christ, I met many people like Sharon, who are caught in a cycle of extreme poverty in the midst of the incredible affluence symbolized by the surrounding skyline. I also interacted with many children, a lot of whom are in the process of being socialized into this cycle. Fortunately, I also had the opportunity to observe some great models for combating these trends. Campus Crusade and the other organizations I worked with this summer provide the poor with more than just handouts and sympathetic words. They provide them with hope and the promise of a more fulfilling life. 1
  2. 2. ABOUT CAMPUS CRUSADE Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) was launched in 1951 by Bill and Vonette Bright at the University of California Los Angeles. A conservative evangelical organization with very broad goals, its mission statement is, “Launching spiritual movements by winning, building, and sending Christ-centered multiplying disciples” (Campus Crusade for Christ International 2009). In the past fifty-seven years, CCC has grown from a meager six staff members to over 25,000 staff members in 191 countries – making it the largest Christian interdenominational organization in America. It has also branched out considerably from its singular campus ministry, now having twenty-nine different ministries under its umbrella. One of these is Here’s Life Inner City (HITC). Here’s Life, founded in 1983 by Bill Bright and headquartered in New York City, is in fifteen American cities and is partnered with over one thousand churches. Its mission statement is, “We serve and mobilize the Church to live out God’s heart for the poor, so all can grow in Christ and spiritually multiply.” Its vision is to see “every Christian engaged in meeting the physical and spiritual needs of the poor, transforming communities so that all people are experiencing hope and justice.” Within HLIC are different programs, each focused on a different demographic – such as children, prisoners, and the homeless (Campus Crusade for Christ, Inc. 2009). Every year, HLIC staff in most its host cities put on a project for Christian students called “Summer in the City (SITC),” with the intent of educating them about the physical and spiritual needs of people in the inner city. Because HLIC is very decentralized, project directors have a lot of say as to how long the project is and how it is run, and as a result the projects can be very different from city to city. For instance, the Seattle project (which I originally applied for) involves four weeks of intensive prison work. The Chicago project, by contrast, offers service 2
  3. 3. opportunities mainly with children and homeless people, and lasts eight weeks. Marc and Sandy Henkel, whom I have become very good friends with, have directed eleven Chicago SITC projects. SUMMER IN THE CITY Overview Before I go any further, it would be helpful to give a brief overview of the design of 2009’s SITC: Chicago project. Marc and Sandy headed the project, and there were four additional young women who served as volunteer staff. There were eighteen of us students. We all stayed in a dorm at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), which was one train stop south of Chinatown and two stops south of downtown. The first week was orientation week, which consisted of a lot of touring, introductory information, and socials. At the end of this week, we were formed into four “ministry teams,” each team receiving different ministry site itineraries for the summer. Each week for the next six weeks, normally Monday through Friday, each team went to different sites. Times would vary according to the site, but on average my team would leave our living quarters at 8 a.m. and get back around 5 p.m. On weekday nights from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., we had meetings. Fridays were half-days; we would get back at around 3 p.m. and have the evening completely free. Saturdays were normally “outreaches” – an example of which was giving free car washes in a poor section on the south side of Chicago called Roseland. Saturday nights were free. Each Sunday morning we went to a different inner city church, and then in the afternoon a staff member would meet with us individually and help us process through our week. Sunday nights were free. After six weeks of this pattern repeating itself, we 3
  4. 4. had one week devoted to relaxation, debriefing, and reflection; two of these days were at Camp Shipshiwana in Indiana. Altogether, it was a very busy two months! Meetings One thing people warn you about being on staff with any Campus Crusade ministry is that there are meetings, meetings, meetings. This was also the case for this summer project. The upside was that they were effective at helping us focus and educating us about certain things, but the downside is that I was rarely in the mood to go to them after a long day on site. However, there were many memorable ones, and I think they were overall beneficial. Sunday nights were team captains’ meetings and chores for those of us who were not captains. Monday nights were “action groups” – same-sex groups of five or six where we dove into biblical discussions of various themes that had to do with our project (such as “Passion for God,” and “Passion for the Poor”). Tuesday nights were “training nights,” where we learned to apply the Bible in a hands-on kind of way (such as learning how to share our faith with others, resolve conflicts, and have an “inductive Bible study”). On Wednesday nights, we would have “men’s and women’s time,” which consisted of eating dinner with all of our project members of the same gender and discussing gender-specific topics. This was followed by a mandated two-hour reflection and journaling time (which was very helpful for keeping up with my internship journal). Thursday nights were “harambee nights” (“harambee” is Swahili for “coming together”). Most of our guest speakers came on this night, and talks usually centered on racial unity and cultural learning. For a couple of the weeks, some of the days were switched, but that was our basic itinerary. 4
  5. 5. A few of these meetings are worth elaborating on. On June 25, we had a “racial unity discussion.” Similar to something we did in my Race & Ethnicity class with Dr. Treiber, it was a time for us to freely discuss our feelings about the sensitive topic of race and to dialogue with each other. Expectedly, there was a little awkward silence at first. Then Alex, who is half Iraqi and half white, started off the discussion by admitting that, before the trip, he struggled with racism towards blacks. Shanice, who is black, shared the difficulties of being born into black culture but being forced to become prolific in white culture in order to survive, when all the while this is not the case vice-versa. The discussion lasted for about an hour and a half, and although it got emotional at times, there was no animosity or bigotry (maybe a little ignorance, but that was soon remedied). The meeting helped us all bond better. The other meeting I’ll mention was July 13’s training night. Two representatives – husband and wife – came from Emmaus Ministries, which is a Christian social service organization especially geared toward homeless male prostitutes. It is hard to think of a group that would be more rejected by society. The representatives took about two hours telling stories in the form of songs, with intermittent commentary and explanation. The stories were mostly sad, having to do with the backgrounds of many men that they encounter, and the need for care and compassion to be shown to these men was highlighted. Emmaus Ministries used to provide housing, but the recession forced them to shut that down. Now they are focused on providing classes for the men to help get them on their feet, and of course they are still trying to raise awareness. 5
  6. 6. Project Responsibilities Toward the end of orientation week, we were given the task of choosing one girl and one guy from each ministry team to be “captains” in charge of managing team affairs and going to certain information meetings. Although I secretly really wanted the responsibility, I knew that it was probably not in my best interest since I would also be preoccupied with my internship. In addition, I felt that Jon, whom I saw as somewhat immature, could probably use the leadership experience more than me. So Jon and Carrie became our team leaders on Sunday, June 21 – the day before our first site. Leann and I declined the responsibility. Another thing that happened during orientation week was that we were divided into committees which were in charge of managing certain project responsibilities. The “T-Shirt and Celebration Committee,” for instance, was in charge designing and producing the project t-shirts and the party at the very end of our eight weeks. I was on the “Newsletter and Yearbook Committee” with my fellow students Will and Barry, and it was headed by assistant project director Sandy Henkel. Throughout the summer, we were in charge of designing and producing the newsletter – to be sent out to our supporters about halfway through project to give them a taste of what we were doing – and the “yearbook,” which was really a summer-book that encapsulated the major experiences, quotes, and memories. Taking on Barry’s suggestion, we also introduced a blog to our responsibilities, which no other SITC project had done before. Although it was stressful at times to maintain and update, and although we were usually behind a week, it proved to be the most effective way of keeping our supporters informed – through the use of both written stories and videos. By the end of project, our blog had 1,258 views. 6
  7. 7. Soon we all received even more responsibilities. The unique thing about Chicago’s SITC project is that all of the staff and directors leave about halfway through the project and transfer their former roles and duties to the students. The directors come back the very last week. One reason they do this is because there is an annual Campus Crusade conference in Colorado in mid- July for all CCC staff in the country, but the other reason is that they want to encourage the development of leadership skills among the students. The staff team met frequently to discuss which students would be good for which roles, and once they reached their decisions they pulled each of us aside; they told us what was involved in our role and gave us the opportunity to accept or decline. Some responsibilities were relatively big (such as project director) and some were relatively small (such as dinner coordinator). Though they initially sounded like a lot of work, most of these were not much of a burden to carry – partly because some aspects of the roles were already pre-set. For instance, the staff had already ordered all of our catered dinners for the summer, so the dinner coordinator’s main job was to meet the catering service, bring the food into the dorm, and deal with any extra expenses or issues that might come up. As a part of this transferring of roles, Marc asked me to be the administrator – in charge of the project’s finances and emergency forms – and I accepted the responsibility. My job was to write checks or give cash to whatever coordinators needed them, save receipts, keep the project checkbook and petty cash ledger balanced, distributed the weekly allowances, pay any speakers that came, collect needed forms, and keep the money in a secure place. The hardest part about this job was collecting the forms. Every Friday, in order to get their allowance, every student had to turn in an evaluation of that week’s site. Some weeks we also had to turn in a “story sheet” – a short write-up of something we had learned or experienced during the summer. I hate to nag, but I had to do it a lot to get people to turn in their forms on time, or even at all, and it was at times 7
  8. 8. quite frustrating. Other than that, the job was fairly easy. The most important responsibility of it all was making sure my bedroom door was always locked, since I kept the checkbook and a couple thousand dollars cash in my dresser under some clothes. I was very appreciative of the fact that Marc trusted me to carry out these tasks, even while knowing that I would not be liable if the money was lost or stolen. The Students One nice thing about the students on the project was that we all came from such a variety of areas – such as Alabama, California, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Washington, and Chicago (this geographical diversity was also the source of countless debates as to whether soft drinks are “sodas” or “pops”). There was also a good mix of upperclassmen and lowerclassmen, and as a result maturity level varied as well. Racially, the makeup was mostly Caucasian; of the eighteen, two were African-American, one was Filipino, and one was Korean. The students were evenly split between men and women. The relationships I developed throughout my time there were very beneficial. Stephen and I would try to make sure we were both up every morning at a good time. Sand volleyball became a staple activity among many of the guys and girls. There were many experiences I shared with people that I will never forget – such as eating deep-fried pigeon with Ty and Barry; writing and performing a skit for elementary Chinese students with Carrie, Jon, and Leann; and going to a Cubs versus White Sox baseball game with Will, who is an ardent Cubs fan (the Cubs lost). Although I didn’t get to know a lot of people as well I as I would have liked to, I left the project with some really good friends that I’m going to be keeping in touch with for a while. 8
  9. 9. The person I became closest to on the project was my fellow Newsletter Committee member and roommate Barry from Stevens Point, Wisconsin. The oldest student on the trip at age twenty-four, he had just graduated with a science education degree with the intent of teaching middle school. In addition to being at about the same ping-pong level as me, we also had very similar temperaments and levels of maturity. The biggest blessing was that we were both naturally very open about our feelings, struggles, and difficulties, and there were many nights when we would talk through things and encourage each other and pray for one other. Those talks relieved a lot of the stress for me. A very selfless person, he was also gracious enough to sacrifice some free time to help me with some surveys for the internship. IMMIGRANTS One of the most noticeable things about Chicago is the booming immigrant population. As of the 2000 U.S. Census, the city of Chicago ranks third among American cities in foreign- born population; it trails behind New York City and Los Angeles at 629,000 (Bergman 2009). I would have liked to have broken down this group according to country of origin, but I couldn’t find adequate statistics. However, the Institute for Metropolitan Affairs at Roosevelt University has good, detailed statistics for the larger Chicago metro area, so I decided to zoom out and analyze that instead. 9
  10. 10. Leading Groups Chicago metro boasts a foreign-born population of 1,416,890, which is tenth in the nation among large metropolitan areas. Since the 1970s, the total immigrant population in Chicago has been rising steadily – particularly from 1990 to 2000. The immigrant percent of population has also been steadily increasing since the 1970s. A detailed breakdown of the different immigrant groups is included Appendix 1 (see Table 11). The top three countries of origin in the year 2000 were Mexico (582,000), Poland (138,000), and India (77,000). On the continental level, there were more people from the Americas than from Europe and Asia combined. The huge number of Polish immigrants makes the city of Chicago one of the largest Polish cities in the world – second only to Poland’s capital city, Warsaw. Because of the huge influx of Mexican and Polish immigrants from 1990 to 2000, the religious makeup of Chicago has become noticeably more Catholic. There has also been a rise in Hindu adherents due to the doubling of the Indian population in only ten years (Paral and Norkewicz 2003). One topic I was told to research was how churches in Chicago take up the cause of immigrants, and how this compares with churches in Atlanta. For Chicago, Marc recommended that I email Brad Stanley, who is the head of an organization called Youth with a Mission (YWAM). I emailed Brad, but a week has passed and he has not emailed back. I tried looking for journal articles on Galileo and newspaper articles related to my subject, but I couldn’t find anything having to do with broad trends – just a couple of sporadic stories about single churches and their support for immigration reform. Also, I ended up running short on time, and that was limiting as well. 10
  11. 11. MINISTRY SITES AND ORGANIZATIONS Agape Community Center After orientation week, our team’s first site was the Agape Community Center, which is owned and operated by Here’s Life Inner City. It is located in the heart of Roseland, a poor African-American community on the south side of Chicago, and it is home to a local church. Throughout the year, it is also home to a S.A.Y. Yes! program, which is an HLIC program designed to “minister to the holistic needs of young people: physical, spiritual, emotional, social, and intellectual” (S.A.Y. Yes! n.d.). In the summer, S.A.Y. Yes! puts on a day camp in order provide safe entertainment and education for local kids in grades two through six. My team members – Jon, Carrie, Leann, and I – were there as camp counselors from June 22 to June 25, and our jobs were basically to have fun with the kids and keep them somewhat disciplined. There were almost one hundred kids in the program, and every one of them was African-American. The program was led by a white woman named Linda, and the rest of the staff members were black. Some junior-highers, alumni of the S.A.Y. Yes! program, served as “counselors in training.” There were two other volunteer groups helping out – one from Indiana and one from southern Illinois – and they were all Caucasians and mostly high schoolers. I was with the third graders, about fifteen of them, and they proved to be a pretty rowdy bunch. I have to admit it was very awkward and frustrating for me that first day, mostly due to my lack of experience working with children, but the rest of the week was much more enjoyable as I got used to the system at Agape. The routine for the third graders was free time, gym time, bible story time, craft time, and then snack time (the other grades simply switched around the order). On Thursday the 25th, we all went to a beach off of Lake Michigan, and I was in charge of 11
  12. 12. watching two third graders – Kyle, who is autistic, and Reggie. I almost had as much fun building sandcastles as they did! Overall, I felt pretty useful at the Agape Center; our presence helped a lot to maintain order. I felt like they put on a good program; the kids were kept under control and they were for the most part entertained, so it seemed to accomplish its purpose. Even though the actual cost was much more, the Agape Center charged parents five dollars for the entire four-week program, and five extra dollars if they wanted their child to go to the water park at the very end. Pacific Garden Mission Pacific Garden Mission is the oldest continuously-operating rescue mission in the country and was founded by Sarah Dunn Clark and her husband Colonel George Clark in 1877. The Mission recently moved into a brand-new state-of-the-art 150,000 square foot facility that houses all of their ministry services under one roof. Services include dorms, showers, a cafeteria, barber shops, career development courses, psychological counseling, job placement programs, ESL classes, medical care, and dental care – all for free, and all for the homeless. The Mission also utilizes efficient renewable energy technologies, such as green roofs, solar panels, and greenhouses (Pacific Garden Mission n.d.). The intent of the organization is not to perpetuate homelessness, but to provide the homeless with the necessary spark to get back on their feet. Our team went to PGM from Monday, June 29 to Thursday, July 2, and we helped out in the kitchen. We actually didn’t get to interact with homeless people much; the only time we did was when we were serving food to them from behind the counter. Besides serving food, we did a lot of odd jobs around the kitchen – such as organizing meats, peeling pineapples, mixing a huge 12
  13. 13. cauldron of spaghetti sauce, setting tables, and anything else that needed to be done. It was pretty laid back, and we spent a quite a bit of time talking with the kitchen staff, which was almost entirely made up of African-American men. Many of them were currently in the Mission’s one- year program, and some had already graduated but stayed to volunteer. Almost all of them had amazing stories. One man, Richard, whom we talked with the most, is sixty-two years old and had been addicted to crack for over thirty years. He said that after surrendering his life to Christ a five or six months ago, he’s gone cold turkey. Another man, quite a bit younger, said he had received a double-life sentence and was in prison until the Illinois governor issued him a pardon. Even after this, he got back involved with his old gang in Baltimore – the Bloods – and continued his violent life until one of his mother’s friends threatened to turn him in to the police if he didn’t go to PGM in Chicago. He went, enrolled in the program, and now has completely left that lifestyle. He currently has his associate’s degree in theology and is working on his masters in order to become a pastor. There were many other stories like this, most of them involving former drug addiction, and it was encouraging to learn that there is indeed real hope for hard users of drugs. I was very impressed with Pacific Garden’s services and facilities. Judging from the talks I had with the men who are going through their program, PGM seems very successful at seeing people permanently leave their destructive lifestyles behind. I felt useful at this site because we seemed to relieve a lot of work from the volunteers by taking care of a lot of the odd jobs. Overall, I did not really see anything about PGM that I would change. 13
  14. 14. By the Hand By the Hand Club for Kids was started in 2001, and is a program designed for tutoring inner city kids – typically those who score below the twenty-fifth percentile on standardized tests and whose behavior is problematic (By the Hand 2008). It is located in Chicago’s Cabrini- Greens neighborhood, which is a very poor African-American community with a very high crime rate. They educate kids from first grade on through high school. Services are free. Our team went to By the Hand from July 6 to July 10, and we were expecting something similar to the Agape Center’s program. However, this program was a summer school, not a day camp – and so naturally there was more time devoted to schoolwork. The directors and most of the staff members were African-American – with the exception of two white female staff members. All of them seemed to be in their thirties or forties. Out of all the sites during the summer, By the Hand was the least enjoyable for me. I spent much of the time in the classroom trying to help kids with their reading and encouraging them to do their work, but they were so unmotivated and apathetic about learning, and I didn’t know quite what to do. At times, the kids could also be rude, demanding, and insensitive. I did not like how they ran things at By the Hand; I really hope that their program is more effective during the school year. I did not see how the classroom time was helping the kids at all. Some kids were given work to do that was too advanced for them, and this contributed significantly to their apathy. For instance, a couple of eight year-olds at my table could not even read, but they were expected to read five children’s stories and write a one or two sentence summary of each by the end of the week, or else they wouldn’t get to go to the baseball game. What the kids really need is some one-on-one tutoring, but unfortunately By the Hand is 14
  15. 15. extremely short-staffed. Even so, there has got to be a better way to do what they are trying to do, because I don’t think the kids learned hardly anything during my week there. Judson Baptist Church Judson Baptist Church was started in 1921 and was named after Adoniram Judson – the first Baptist missionary to Burma (Judson Baptist Church n.d.). The street that runs in front of Judson Baptist Church separates the city of Chicago from the Oak Park suburb. Judson Baptist is on the Oak Park side. The surrounding neighborhood contrasts sharply with the Cabrini-Greens neighborhood, where By the Hand was located; it’s not extremely wealthy, but it is comfortably middle class. The surrounding area seems to be about one-third white and two-thirds black, if the makeup of Judson’s congregation is a reliable indicator. Our team had the privilege to serve as counselors at JBC’s children’s day camp from July 13 to July 17. Of the twenty elementary-aged kids, most were African-American, with the exception of three Caucasians. The head of the program was a white male in his thirties and the four other staff members were young black females. I enjoyed Judson Baptist so much better than By the Hand, and even the Agape Center – for many reasons. The first was that it was very well organized and planned. After church on Sunday, we met with Trent, the youth pastor and head of the day camp, and he gave us hour-by-hour itineraries for the entire week. There was also a good variety of field trips planned. It’s a three-week day camp, and each week has a different theme – such as water or sports. Every day of that week, there is a field trip related to that theme. Our week had to do with sports, so we went rock climbing on Wednesday and canoeing on Thursday. (We were on our way to a baseball game on Monday, but a blown tire left 15
  16. 16. our school bus stranded on the freeway median for three hours.) On Tuesday we went to a conservatory, where we got our athletic juices pumping by looking at plants. I felt the Judson staff team did a good job at providing the kids with a variety of experiences and mapping them out ahead of time. Another reason why I enjoyed Judson is that they gave us much more responsibility, and because of that we all felt like we were contributing more. I got to lead three children’s songs at the beginning of each day on my guitar, and I also got to teach the daily Bible lesson to the four through six year-olds. Leann got to teach the lesson to the older kids, Carrie was in charge of arts and crafts, and Jon was in charge of cooking up lunch. Lastly, I really enjoyed Judson because the kids were very enjoyable (even though I came to dread the daily bus rides). They were much more outgoing and eager to learn than the kids at the Agape Center and especially By the Hand. I came to realize, however, that this difference is probably best explained by socioeconomic status. At the Agape Center, some parents had to apply for scholarships in order to pay the five dollar camp price. At JBC, the price for their three- week camp was one hundred dollars. The Judson kids did not have to deal with the reality of growing up in a violent neighborhood, and it seemed to me like most of them had stable home environments; they were very psychologically healthy kids – like one would expect children to be. Also, I had to keep in mind that Judson was a day camp and By the Hand was a summer school. So although I enjoyed the Judson kids better, I felt much more compassion toward the kids at the other sites. There was one part of being at Judson that was definitely not enjoyable, however, and that was our daily schedule. Since the church is on the outskirts of Chicago, it took us an hour to 16
  17. 17. get there and an hour to get back. So my daily schedule was waking up at 6 a.m., leaving at 7 a.m., getting back at 5:30 p.m., eating dinner at 6 p.m., and going to a meeting from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Since the Thursday of that week was also the day that the SITC staff were leaving, we spent every night after 10 p.m. trying to put together a farewell party. Beginning around 11 p.m., I prepared the songs and lesson for the next day – giving me a 12 p.m. or 12:30 p.m. bedtime. By the end of the week, I was completely exhausted, but fortunately for me the following Saturday was a free day. Pui Tak Center The next week, our team served as assistant summer school teachers at Chinatown’s Pui Tak Center (pronounced poy-tahk), which is owned by Chinese Christian Union Church down the road. The building has an interesting history. According to Pui Tak’s website, when plans for building it were announced in 1926, the Chicago Tribune called it, “One of the most expensive and elaborate buildings ever erected in America by the Chinese” (Pui Tak Center n.d.). It was originally owned by the On Leong Merchant Association, but it soon became the headquarters of the local Chinese mafia, which essentially ran the affairs of Chinatown. In the early 1990s, the government seized the building, and the church purchased it in 1993. The church itself was started by missionaries in 1903 (http://www.ccuc.net/ccuc/get_doc.asp?id=14). Fortunately, it only took our team ten minutes to get to this site each day. We were there from Monday, July 20 to Thursday, July 23. I didn’t feel as useful at Pui Tak; we assisted the teachers and taught some of the lessons, but they really didn’t need us, and some of the time I was just sitting around reading while the kids read or did their schoolwork. Despite this, I really 17
  18. 18. enjoyed my time there. Altogether, there were a couple hundred kids in the program, but my class of fifth-graders was small – numbering at fifteen. All of my kids were Chinese-American, and that was true of all the kids in the other grades – save for one Caucasian boy and one African-American boy. Most of the teachers were Chinese-American, but a couple of them were Caucasian. Each day was pretty much the same routine, save for a couple things. One day, Jon, Carrie, Leann, and I performed a skit during “chapel time,” when all the kids met together in the main room. Another day, we went to the Museum of Science and Industry, which was a lot of fun. Compared to the other sites I went to during the summer, these kids were almost eerily well-behaved and hungry to learn. For one of the math lessons, they were told to measure different objects around the room. Some of them asked me if they could measure more than what was assigned, and my response was, “Uh… yeah, sure!” Most of the kids’ parents were immigrants, but the kids themselves seemed very Americanized. They, like the Judson Baptist kids, also seemed to be very psychologically healthy, and it was very easy to establish bonds with them. Every SITC team went to Pui Tak at some point, and some students even shed some tears when saying their goodbyes. The Salvation Army The last organization we worked with was the Salvation Army, and it was my favorite out of all of them. “Doing the Most Good” is their bold slogan and the standard that they set for themselves. Here is their mission statement: 18
  19. 19. The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination. The Army was started in London by William Booth in 1865 as a means to reach out to poor people, thieves, prostitutes, gamblers, and drunkards. Booth’s aim was to lead them to a relationship with Christ and connect them with a church for further spiritual guidance. In 1879, Eliza Shirley established the organization in the United States, in Philadelphia. Now it is in virtually every corner of the world. It has evolved to be far more than an evangelistic effort, however. Today, the Salvation Army is busy providing youth camps, disaster relief, prisoner rehabilitation, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, and elderly services, as well as combating atrocities such as human trafficking (Salvation Army 2000). We were at the Salvation Army from July 27 to July 31, and we worked with its Mobile Outreach Unit. There were four Army case workers that we worked alongside – Richard and Darlene, both African-American, and Warren and Benjy, both Caucasian. The Mobile Unit goes to the same four sites every day to hand out freshly made soup, juice, and not-so-fresh bread to the homeless and poor – or whoever else wants it. (I tried some of the soup, and to my surprise, it tasted amazing). As the people eat and drink, the case workers talk with them in order to establish relationships and find out what kinds of services they might need. The first site was on Chicago’s north side, right down the street from Jesus People USA; the poor there were very racially diverse. The second was in Polish town where most of the Polish immigrants are. The third was on Chicago’s south side, and we served mainly African-Americans. Our team never 19
  20. 20. went to the fourth, due to lack of time. Each day, we spent two hours at the first site and one hour at each of the other two. I am going to devote a little space to Richard Vargas, who became a personal hero of mine during that week. He’s a bigger man, probably in his late thirties, and is a mental health specialist whose full time job is leading the Mobile Outreach Unit. I saw remarkable compassion in him. On Tuesday, at the first site, he was talking with a homeless man named Mike. Mike is a Caucasian in his early fifties, but he looks like he is in his sixties. He became addicted to marijuana in Vietnam during the war, and that led to homelessness. He has since replaced that addiction with severe alcoholism. Richard had just met him the day before, and on this day Mike was sharing with him his health issues: problems with his kidneys and liver. He said he also suffers from depression and hearing voices, which only happens when he is sober (this probably helps fuel his alcoholism). Richard offered to take Mike to the hospital right that second, and Mike took up the offer. My teammate Carrie and I tagged along. It was a half-hour’s drive, and Richard brought Mike in to the Emergency Room. I highly doubt the doctors would have admitted Mike if it weren’t for Richard; they were very hesitant, and consented only when Richard explained that he didn’t think Mike would last much longer if left untreated. I think that Mike’s lack of knowledge and confidence would have hindered him too if he was alone. “Where do I go? Who do I talk to? I have no idea what to say to them!” he said on the way there. We were at the hospital for over two hours because Richard wanted to make sure that Mike was going to get some treatment. The doctors finally examined him and said that they could keep him one night, and they made an appointment for him to come back in a couple 20
  21. 21. weeks. Richard pressured Mike to enroll in the Salvation Army’s drug rehabilitation program and live at the center until his appointment, and Mike consented. I have hope for Mike’s situation, because he had some new confidence and a more positive attitude walking out. I could see a hope in his eyes that I haven’t seen in very many homeless people. Richard’s persistent, tough compassion really came out in his interactions with a homeless African-American woman named Sherry. She looks like she is in her fifties, but she is probably younger. When I saw her, the whites of her eyes were not white – they were a light brown. She is a friend of Mike’s, and also a severe alcoholic. In Richard’s opinion, if she doesn’t change her habits soon, she is not going to last more than a few months. The week before, Richard got her admitted into a hospital – which according to him was a lot of work – and they graciously decided to keep her there for a few weeks and treat her. On Tuesday, to Richard’s chagrin, he saw Sherry under a tree in a park. She had simply walked out of the hospital – possibly because of her addiction. Richard stopped the van and, with frustration mounting in his voice, demanded that she go back, but she refused. We had to leave to continue driving Mike to the hospital, but Richard said that he does not intend to let her give up without a fight. I am still waiting on an email from him to find out about Sherry’s and Mike’s current situations. Richard Vargas is a hero to me, and I think he is a good model for what the apostle John envisioned when he said: If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion – how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. (1 John 3:17-18) 21
  22. 22. Links between Christian and Non-Christian Organizations Virtually all of the organizations I volunteered with limit themselves to partnering with other Christian organizations. The main reason is because they are all highly evangelistic. The ideology present within Campus Crusade, Pacific Garden Mission, Pui Tak, and others is one that elevates spiritual needs over physical and emotional needs. Spiritual needs are viewed as eternal, the others as temporary. Therefore, though meeting physical and emotional needs is important in order to benefit someone holistically, meeting their spiritual need becomes a more important task. The traditional Christian view is that one must submit to Jesus Christ as Lord in order have one’s spiritual needs met. Because of this, partnering with a Muslim organization, for example, would be seen as counterproductive since it would probably hinder the meeting of this crucial need. Apart from occasionally working together to meet certain physical needs in the community (such as for food), partnerships and linkages remain between other Christian organizations. POVERTY SIMULATION This paper is already running past the limit of twenty, but I felt like it would not have been complete if I did not mention the poverty simulation that Marc and Sandy orchestrate every year – or the “pov sim” as we came to endearingly call it. This was one of the most educational things about the project for me. It was designed to give us a small taste of what poverty and homelessness are really like. It was a complete secret until the moment it started, but we were given the option of not doing it at all or the option of backing out at any point once we started. We were told that the simulation would last anywhere from one day to seven days, and we were 22
  23. 23. given seven minutes to run up to our rooms and grab three things to take with us and some additional minutes to call family members (we weren’t allowed to bring cell phones or any other electronic devices). I grabbed a pillow, a book to read (bad mistake), and some deodorant. I felt like it was going to be fun – like camping in the woods. During the simulation, we stayed at a church in downtown. We drew cards to determine our characteristics, and I ended up being a single parent of one child, and I received a life-size baby doll. A major thing Marc and Sandy wanted to educate us about was the near financial impossibility of poverty. We received an allowance each night of thirty dollars in play money that was supposed to represent a typical poor person’s income, but we also incurred many different fees. Money for baby food and diapers ate up half my allowance daily. Since it cost two dollars every time we rode a bus or train to our sites, I had to pay six more dollars daily. I had to pay housing fees for myself and my child. “Chance cards” were randomly drawn and inflicted on a random student; one of them said something to the effect of, “Your son fractured his leg at school today, and it will cost you twenty dollars in medical fees.” When all was said and done, I usually only had money for one meal a day, and it was a pretty meager one. We had to carry all of our things with us at all times – even to the sites, and even my doll. (This was when I was at Pacific Garden Mission.) We were not allowed to shower or wash our hands at the church. We slept on solid concrete, but after the first night I was able to find some clean cardboard in a dumpster and some newspaper to provide some sort of cushion. For a scavenger hunt we did, we had to go downtown and beg a passerby for a dollar, and then find a real homeless person to give it to. We were allowed to ask around for food; one team hit the jackpot at a bakery. In the evenings, we would have educational meetings about certain aspects of poverty. One involved an exercise where the “rich” people knew how to play the game and subsequently accumulate 23
  24. 24. points, while the “poor” did not – a lesson about the effects of being uneducated in a capitalist economy. Overall, the simulation lasted two and a half days. The poverty simulation was definitely very strange, but I learned a lot of things in ways that I could never learn from books. Books can’t tell you how uncomfortable it feels to sleep on concrete, or how degrading it is to dig through a dumpster, or how awkward it feels to be standing on the train looking unkempt and carrying cardboard. It was definitely not a fun experience, and I think I hated every minute of it – but that was the point. And even so, as Sandy reminded us at the end, we were trying to experience a stab wound by giving ourselves a paper cut. For one, we did not have to deal with the powerful psychological effects of generational poverty. Also, the physical conditions for the homeless are actually much worse, and – most importantly – we had hope because we knew that the simulation was going to be temporary. Many people do not have this hope. The only thing I didn’t like about the simulation was that it felt like we were being deceptive (and we were). We couldn’t tell anyone that we were doing a “poverty simulation,” because that would affect how they would respond to us, thereby sapping any realism out of the experience. So when we went around asking for a dollar to buy food, we couldn’t tell anyone that we weren’t really homeless. The owner of a bakery felt bad for some of the students and gave them some food, and that in turn made the students feel bad. One time when Jon and I were out walking (Carrie and Leann had by this time dropped out of the simulation and were back at IIT), a homeless man saw through our act and angrily reprimanded us for “playing homeless.” I felt terrible. Although I strongly disliked this deceptive aspect of the simulation, I do not know how it would be fixed other than by not doing it at all. 24
  25. 25. SURVEYS Part of my internship involved giving out and collecting surveys on the topic of religion. The first question asked the religion of the respondent and the second measured the respondent’s perceived level of religiosity. The next three questions had to do with topics of specifically Christian interest. Question three was designed to distinguish between “works-based” and “faith- based” views of salvation. A works-based view would be, “I can get to heaven by being a good person.” The faith-based, or traditional Christian view, would be, “I cannot get into heaven on my own; I need God’s help.” However, the way I worded the question was confusing to some people, and after a few surveys in I ended up changing it to an open ended question: “Do you believe in heaven? If so, how do you get there?” I then made my own judgment whether their answer was works-based or faith-based. The fourth question asked the respondent how reliable they thought the Bible is. The fifth question asked who the respondent thought Jesus was (e.g. a prophet, or just a good person). The rest were demographic questions. One thing I began to realize as the project progressed was that it was probably was not the best internship to do a quantitative study on. My original plan was to do the surveys on site; I was hoping to do a hundred overall. However, it turned out that four of my sites involved working with children, so I scratched those. The two others, Pacific Garden and the Salvation Army, were not ideal either. At PGM, it turned out that they needed us in the kitchen, where we mainly interacted with the workers. From talking with them, I gathered that the workers had virtually the same religious beliefs and mindsets; this would have heavily skewed the survey results and made doing them pointless. By the time I got to my last site, the Salvation Army, I had made up my mind to do the surveys during our relaxation week in Roseland. These plans were confirmed when I realized that the Salvation Army, with its spread-out locations and 25
  26. 26. limited time, was not a good place to do them either. I also considered surveying people on the trains or going to Grand Park, but I realized that the population would be so large and the sample so small that the results would be useless. When we got to Roseland, I was optimistic about the surveys because I had two full days and a half day to do them. My new goal was to get fifty Roseland residents to fill them out. On Saturday, August 1, Barry and I went out on the main street in Roseland and did surveys from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. We decided against going door-to-door, since Roseland is a very unsafe part of Chicago and we didn’t know what to expect. We walked up and down the main street. We started doing surveys in the hospital emergency room but got kicked out by the security guards. Not having much luck, I decided to adjust my population from “Roseland residents” to “people who regularly frequent Roseland.” That allowed us to go to the bus stops, where there were always people. We got twenty-five surveys done that day. To my disappointment, my plans for doing surveys the following Wednesday and Thursday fell through. Those were the very last two days of project, and those I asked were not eager to do surveys with me – especially Thursday, when everyone was packing up and preparing for that night’s farewell party. Due to safety concerns, no one was allowed to walk around Roseland by themselves; Marc had already been reluctant to let me and Barry go as a pair. Part of it was ill planning on my part however, as I had a chance to go with Alex but missed the opportunity. I also did not ask everyone, because I did not feel like I knew a lot of them well enough to ask that kind of favor. Perhaps that was a mistake. If I were to go back in time and re-do this internship, I would still save the surveys for that last week in Roseland. I usually had three free afternoons a week throughout the project, but 26
  27. 27. I think a wiser use of that time would have been to rest and recuperate than to do surveys; that’s exactly what I did, and I still felt pretty stressed. What I would do different would be to try to get all of those surveys done on that last Saturday; I could have gotten someone else to go with me for another two hours, but I procrastinated instead. Because of the small sample size, I do not think the results are very meaningful. However, on the good side, I did get some experience giving people oral surveys and interpreting data. All of the tables and graphs are located in Appendix 1. According to these tables, the vast majority of respondents where non-Catholic Christians (Table 1), 56% agreed that the Bible is generally reliable and accurate (Table 3), and the vast majority thought that Jesus is God (Table 4). For the heaven question, the majority indicated “works-based” theologies (Table 2), but it was a flawed question; it needed to be worded better. As for the demographics, age looked fairly well spread out (Table 5), there were roughly the same number of males as females interviewed (Table 6), nearly all of the respondents were black (Table 7), the majority had never been married (this may include cohabitation) (Table 8), and 56% were employed (Table 9) – although I failed to distinguish between part-time and full-time. As for importance of religion, the best measure of central tendency would be the median since the distribution is heavily skewed to the left. Therefore, the average for that category is 9 out of 10 – indicating that it was a very religious group of respondents. Since it was such a small sample, and a convenience one at that, I didn’t bother looking for relationships between the variables, because they would not be meaningful. 27
  28. 28. MY SUMMER READING LIST Real Hope in Chicago One book that Marc and Sandy had us read before coming on project was Real Hope in Chicago by Wayne Gordon. The book is about the difference that Lawndale Community Church has made in the North Lawndale area of Chicago – a very poor area made up of mostly African- Americans. The church was founded by Wayne and Anne Gordon in 1978 – a Caucasian couple from the Chicago suburbs. Wayne had moved into the area in 1975 at the age of twenty-one, and brought his newlywed wife there in 1977. The first ministry that the church did was simply providing people in the neighborhood a safe place to do their laundry. The church continued to grow in size, and after holding meetings in the Gordons’ apartment for a while, they finally were able to afford to renovate one of the vacant lots nearby. Many generous donations from friends and from the city helped them to build a gymnasium for the local residents. They also were eventually able to create a medical clinic, an apartment renovating service, and scholarships for young blacks in the community who wanted to go to college but couldn’t afford it. The main theme of the book is Gordon’s philosophy of community development. It clicked for him when a friend said, “Wayne … you are looking in the wrong places for leaders. The leaders are not outside the community; the leaders are already in the community” (Gordon 115). Too often, one of the goals of people who live in impoverished neighborhoods is to get out of the neighborhood. The problem is, those who normally can get out of the neighborhood are the best and the brightest, and when they leave, the community remains as it was. Gordon and Lawndale Community Church have been working for nearly thirty-five years to build up the community in order to break the vicious cycle of poverty and violence that has engulfed it for so 28
  29. 29. long. They have been able to gain the respect of local gang leaders, provide safe havens for children to play, and encourage economic development – although there still is a lot of work to be done. There Are No Children Here For my internship, I was told to watch the television film “There Are No Children Here.” I looked all over the internet for it and could not find it, but after finding out that the film is based off of a book, I decided to read the book instead. It was written by Alex Kotlowitz – a Washington Post reporter who spent two years hanging out with two African-American brothers at the Henry Horner housing projects on the south side of Chicago. The book is about the lives of the older brother, Lafayette, and the younger brother, Pharaoh, as they struggle to have some semblance of a childhood in the projects. The events in the book happened between 1987 and 1989, when the boys were still in elementary school. Incredibly, despite all the influences and stacked odds around him, Pharaoh grows to love education – particularly when it came to participating in spelling bees. He studieslong hours in his room, and he develops a much heightened sense of moral awareness. He also has a vivid imagination that sometimes sends him daydreaming for hours. He develops into a relatively healthy kid. Lafayette is a different story. He is more typical of other kids in the projects. Being the oldest still living in the house, his mother LaJoe relies on him more than anyone to help take care of the family. Leery of the constant gang battles and gunfights in the neighborhood, he constantly worries about his little brother’s safety. Activities in the neighborhood slowly harden 29
  30. 30. him. One of his good friends dies from a stray bullet. A young man that Lafayette looked up to – a positive role model who was on his way to college – is accidentally shot one night by the police. His older brother is arrested and sentenced to eight years in prison for a crime that he didn’t commit. All of these things reinforces his mindset that many other children in poor communities also have: A lack of hope that he would even live past his eighteenth birthday. No wonder Kotlowicz remarks that Lafayette looked so much older than he really was. I was asked to relate the term “cultural brokers” to this book and to my summer. A cultural broker is a child that is a sort of mediator between the parents and the dominant culture. This is seen frequently in Latino families where the child speaks English and the parents don’t. The result of this is that the child starts managing adult affairs because the parents are incapable, and this subsequently ages the child psychologically. What I read in Kotlowicz’s book didn’t sound exactly like cultural brokering, but the same effects were definitely there as a result of LaJoe putting adult responsibilities onto Lafayette’s shoulders. He felt the adult burden of caring for the family, and in a way it stole his childhood away. On my project, I noticed this effect mainly at By the Hand. It’s hard to know without observing the families if there was cultural brokering involved, but I did notice that the children were much more serious – as if life was a drag. Cabrini-Green is a rough area, and statistically speaking, many of them probably come from single-parent homes like Lafayette did. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are indeed experiencing a shortened childhood. Other than at By the Hand though, I did not really notice this effect – not even at the Agape Center, except for maybe one or two kids. The Judson Baptist kids, on the contrary, were very happy-go-lucky and carefree – like children should be. 30
  31. 31. SUMMARY If I could pick one word to describe this internship with Here’s Life Inner City, it would be “intense.” I felt exhausted for a lot of it and extremely busy; it was a sharp contrast to my month of laziness and videogames just before I went on the project. It was also intense in that I learned so much about poverty, working with children, homelessness, social service work, and the various organizations I worked with. Lastly, it was intense in that it was a lot of fun! I made a lot of lasting bonds with my fellow project members, and there were many memorable experiences that I will cherish for a while. As mentioned earlier, the directors of the project were Marc and Sandy Henkel, and this was their eleventh year doing it. I think that they have a phenomenal program going for them, and I hope that they get to direct it many more years. I went on a Campus Crusade summer project to Sarajevo, Bosnia two years ago, and I really liked it – but this Chicago project was far better directed. We were exposed to so many different experiences, introduced to so many different organizations, and given so many opportunities to exert leadership. The project was also extremely well organized; at the beginning, we were each given a schedule for the entire summer, and we ended up following it to a tee. Although I cannot think of many things that could have been done better, I did feel that there was a little too much going on at times. There was a huge variety of experiences – but almost to a fault. By the time I got to the third ministry site (By the Hand), I felt burned out, and by the end of the fourth site (Judson Baptist), that burnout felt complete. Most of my excitement and motivation were gone, and I was mainly doing my responsibilities for the sake of getting them done and not because I wanted to do them. By the end of the fifth site (Pui Tak), I started to 31
  32. 32. come out of that funk and began to enjoy my responsibilities more. I just wished that, for me personally, I had a tad more free time some of those weeks to rest up and relax. However, even though I felt stressed, the staff members were busier than any of us students, and I suppose that the busy schedule was simply a picture of what full-time ministry entails. As for how this project related to sociology, I thought it fit in like a hand in a glove. I saw things and heard stories that made the cycle of poverty more personal to me than my sociology texts ever could. I also had the opportunity to compare and contrast many different demographics: immigrants, people of different levels of socioeconomic status, the homeless, African-Americans, Chinese-Americans, Muslims, and on and on. One of the most important things I learned was about how poverty can damage children by essentially stealing their childhood. I have a few regrets about my internship in Chicago. One was that I neglected to take pictures. This was partly due to the fact that, about halfway through project, I played sand volleyball while forgetting I had my camera in my pocket. Also, picture-taking just doesn’t readily come to mind for me when I am busy doing work; it was easy to remember when we went out touring. Second, like I went into detail about earlier, I wish I would have been more responsible with the surveys. Third, I did not journal the last two weeks, and I wish I would have been more disciplined in that area. One thing I admire about Marc and Sandy is their heart for the city. One thing that Here’s Life requires of its staff is that they actually live in the community that they are serving. Marc told us that, when he was younger, the last place on earth he wanted to work was the inner city, and the last city he wanted to live in was Chicago. (He grew up in a suburb of Chicago.) 32
  33. 33. However, he felt that God wanted him to do that very thing, and so he joined Here’s Life and eventually met Sandy, who was also on staff with Here’s Life. Now they live in the heart of Roseland (as they have been doing so for over twenty years) – about a block away from the Agape Community Center, where they work. Marc says that now there is no place in the world he’d rather be than in Roseland – even though it is a very poor, unsafe neighborhood where he is an extreme ethnic minority. Marc and Sandy’s desire, which is reflected in many things they say and do, is to see the vulnerable people in their community experience hope, love, justice, and mercy. In my opinion, it is people like them and like Richard Vargas who are making the real difference in the lives of the needy. 33

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