Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Living in the Rift

One of our neighbors left me a message last week saying “Hi Joel, a reporter from the Chicago Tribune would like to visit with us at the ministry center about the recent murders in the community and the rift they evidence.” I knew what she was talking about, we had discussed it at a staff meeting the previous day. The whole thing had me thinking about the parable of the good Samaritan and Micah 6:8. Let me first tell you what happened.

The most recent murder in the neighborhood was a tragic scene (as they all are) that occurred midway between our ministry center and my home. Amadou Cisse was a young Senegalese student at the University of Chicago. He was killed by a few young men looking for some money. 3 weeks previously he had successfully defended his dissertation for his PhD, but with one gunshot wound to the chest his brilliant life was brought to an end.

People of reputation responded. The police, local politicians, and media (local and national) responded strongly. We have a new police station set up with 24 hour monitoring as a result just a few blocks from here. It was covered nationally and locally. Community bulletins were circulated. Money was raised for the family in Senegal. The case was pursued and the culprits were apprehended. A well attended memorial was held and the doctoral degree awarded posthumously. A good overall response to a serious calamity.

What stings about the whole thing, however, is that Mr. Cisse’s murder wasn’t the first one this summer. It was just the first one that “counted”. A few weeks ago the body of Theresa Bunn (21 and pregnant) was found burnt and stuffed in a dumpster 4 blocks from here. A few weeks before that 2 people were shot and killed. A month or so before that a 14 year old young man was murdered a block from the home of one of our staff members. But none of these were students at a prestigious university. None of them bore a reputation. Therefore none of them garnered comparable attention or proactive response.

In Luke 10 Jesus tells about a man of no reputation, beaten and left for dead. Those who came along had means to respond but didn’t. Then a Samaritan man (a man of ill-repute!) came along and saw the beaten man as a neighbor worthy of response, worthy of love, worthy of attention. The Good Samaritian responded in a personally costly way to someone no one else wanted to help and in a way that was virtually invisible to the outside world.

It is interesting to me that in this story Jesus was not primarily asking his disciples to come up with a crime prevention strategy (there is a place for that and people to do it!) but rather to be Micah 6:8 people. To LOVE MERCY and give it in abundance, especially to those of no reputation, those who are outcasts, those who you never hear about or from. Our neighbors.

As we pursue our calling to live out the principles of Micah 6:8 and Jeremiah 29:7 here in the city we needn’t become hardened toward those of reputation who respond vigorously to others of reputation in need. Instead we must thrive at responding to those of no-reputation with loving-kindness and even those of ill-repute with great mercy.

(The Tribune article that was written as a result of the reporters visit is at this
link:,0,6589395.column )

Joel Hamernick
Executive Director
Sunshine Gospel Ministries


Love Mercy. Do Justice. Walk Humbly.