|Photo by Strannick45|
At the corner of Wilson and Sheridan, stands a gray stone brick building, which is the home of the Uptown Baptist Church and several other church-co-tenants of the property. We also meet there for African Christian Fellowship meetings, as we have been for as long as I can remember; decades even.
Sunday evening we had our annual African Christian Fellowship picnic at Montrose beach. After the picnic, about 6 of us took some things back to the church to lock up.
As soon as we get out the car, commotion surrounds us. There are adults engaged in some dispute; all types of foul language is being exchanged and it’s two seconds from getting physical. Before we can even realize what's going on, one guy suddenly secures himself in the center of our midst. He starts mumbling out the side of his mouth, with his hand on his belt buckle, under his shirt and he looks slightly, just slightly, intoxicated. We make out what he is saying with an accent: “these guys; they want to jump me, they are in a gang, call the cops, I don’t want any trouble.”
Someone from the group pursuing him speaks up and says something to the effect of “don’t shoot or leave him alone, we’ll get him.” I’ve been following some of the violence events in Uptown that have been taking place right on this same block lately. Seeing as though I had no desire to be part of the 10 o’clock news, I say to one of my friends, “I think we should get back in the car,” especially since the entrance we plan to enter through is locked.
Soon we get the church opened and minutes later they were beating the guy who initially solicited our help as he fled into the McDonald’s across the street for safety. Why are they pursuing him? Because he threw up the wrong sign. Really? Really!
We finish taking the last of the things back into the church and we are waiting for everyone to get back outside so we can leave at the same time. The man being pursued has now been taken away by an unmarked SUV police car. And now, this “gang” is sitting and standing on the steps of the church entrance, using the same foul language, rousing themselves up, and plotting about how they will kill him the next time they see him.
Over a hand gesture; this cannot be real. I'm somewhat shocked that they are really "gang banging" just out in the open and I am really witnessing the preliminary stages of the caught in cross gang violence news stories. It is 8pm on a Sunday night, this cannot be their life, and they all must be in their 30s. I’m tempted to talk to them but advised not to, so we all get back into the cars.
As we drive off, I notice the sign in the window of the women’s shelter, yards from where they were congregated: “Stop Killing People.”
The presence of the Church had no effect on these people.
Our presence almost had no effect on these people.
This is not the Uptown I remember.
Pray for Uptown. Pray for Chicago. Pray for the Church in Chicago.
“…you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.” – A.J. Gordon