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Example articles from previous semesters

Koinonia House National Ministries

The Koinonia House (or K-House for short)

It’s an unassuming house situated amongst more stately homes, manicured lawns, and well-appointed streetlights.  Perhaps the most conspicuous thing about East Indiana Street is how quiet it is.   Compared to the constant noise and activity of the large, urban center it’s adjacent to, or even the traffic on nearby Roosevelt Road, the serene setting surrounding 818 East Indiana Street stands in stark contrast.

Located in Wheaton, a suburb west of Chicago, the house has been there for 93 years.  It only became the subject of legal dispute in 1991 when Koinonia House National Ministries sought to make use of the space.

Koinonia House National Ministries, who specializes in providing post-prison aftercare resources, was seeking to provide a dwelling place and overall holistic care to ex-cons.  There were limits: no murderers, no rapists, no child molesters; none of the potentially most insidious threats to a residential community.  But ex-gang members and thieves, for example, could be amongst those seeking to rebuild their lives there.  And while these might be the people in the employ of the construction firm hired to do a remodel or of a landscaping outfit hired to maintain the well-manicured lawns, they certainly would not be desirable as neighbors.

Wheaton boasts of having the “most churches per capita than anywhere in America”, so it’s not as though places of worship or ministry are uncommon there.

However, it’s also often cited as one of the safest and best cities in Illinois and even the U.S. to live and raise a family, so it’s perhaps understandable why residents of the affluent, west-suburban community opposed the intended use of the home.

“This is certainly a laudable concept, but people bought homes here to be insulated from this” said John Fuller, a neighboring resident. The city fought the use of the space as such, but its opposition did not hold up in a court of law, and thus, the ministry commenced.

Not all ex-cons can benefit

Since that time, Koinonia House Wheaton has served over 30 ex-prisoners offering them a Christian family home, mentors, connection to a local church, biblical discipleship and assistance with suitable employment in an effort to help them transition back into mainstream society, live a life free of crime, and grow in their Christian walk.  Not all ex-cons can benefit from this ministry, but Christians who’ve been saved by the Lord Jesus Christ.  As such, there is a nine-page application, and acceptance into the program is subject to the approval of ministry founders, Manny and Barbara Mill, and resident pastor, Nephtali Aaron Matta.  Key characteristics they are looking for include humility, genuine repentance, a desire to learn, and the willingness to work hard at building a new life.

When asked why he accepted the role of resident pastor at the K-House, Nephtali said: “A lot of these guys just need a shot at rebuilding their lives without having to worry about where they’re going to live and how they’re going to pay for it. I looked around and said: ‘I can do something. Even if it’s just one guy, I can do something.’ But then”, he adds with a chuckle, “I’ve never been content with just one guy, so yeah, there’s that.”

The K-House Complete

Koinonia is a Greek word used to describe a depth of community in relationship, and that’s exactly what the K-House is for as many people were impacted by Jesus, but the disciples who lived with Him had the most potential to be shaped by all He had to offer. Shelter is good, but koinonia is better.

No one said to “take a knee”. No one needed to.

Of course, the K-House would not be complete without its residents, and the most recent addition is a man by the name of Romeo. Formerly a member of a street gang, he was incarcerated at age 17 and served 12 years before being released. He speaks often of being free: free to live without bars, free to go to church and worship God there, free to live in a real home, perhaps the first real experience of this he’s ever had.

As we travel from the home to his first church gathering outside of a prison, he’s unaware that one of the items on the agenda is to celebrate with and pray for him.  So, he’s a little caught off guard when the speaker directs everyone to do this, but the first thing he does is kneel before the Lord.  It’s a poignant moment as many believe being free means answering only to oneself, but Romeo’s voluntary posture of submission to God indicates he’s not only free on the outside but is also free from within.



Nephtali says it’s moments like these that make his job so rewarding:

“I just have a deeper love for people, because I get how God loves sinners as much as He does.  We all commit crimes against God and humanity, granted with different consequences, but they are still crimes; that’s how God views it.  We’re the ones who put gradations on them.  I get that much better now.”

Gifts to the community?

Men who’ve lost everything and have been saved while incarcerated have little else to draw their identity from or do with their time, Nephtali points out, than to study the Word of God and seek to know and obey the Lord Jesus Christ. “They essentially live like state-paid monks”, he says.  As such, they have much to offer the communities that welcome them. Humility, the ability to live in close community, a firm reverence for the Word of God, and a profound appreciation for the riches of God’s love and grace are just a few of the gifts they bring.


Click Here for more information about Koinonia’s weekly “Radical Time Out”

Click Here to get to Koinonia House

A Safe Haven on the West Side

Life Group on Houghton 6 West

When I walk into the Houghton room 625, overwhelming calm comes over me. On the west wing of the fifth floor of this dorm, at the very end of the hallway on the left, lies my room. This space is more home than any other place on Earth. It is my happy place, my safe haven. But this room is not just for my own enjoyment, it is also a safe haven for others. This little corner I call my own is the location of Life Group for my floor. I use this place to sleep and do homework, but more than anything, it is a safe haven for the women on my floor to come, step back from everything, and breathe.

When I was a freshman at Moody, my floor’s Life Group was my safe haven. It was one of the biggest blessings my freshman year. Now a junior in college, I lead the Life Group on my own floor.

It’s not just a dorm room; 

It is a safe haven.

What is Life Group?

Life Groups on the Moody Bible Institute campus are small groups that seek “to foster a transformational campus community in which students are challenged to grow towards greater wholeness in their relationships with Christ, self, and others.” There are many different routes by which Life Groups can take shape. They can be Bible studies, accountability groups, book clubs, prayer groups, and much more. But, the mission stays the same. The goal of a life Group leader is to help foster community on their assigned floor, to do “life-on-life” to ultimately glorify Christ.

Life Group Leader Autumn Wilson sharing her experience as a part of Campus Ministries.

What does a Life Group consist of?

To begin our time together, I usually provide a snack for the young women to start our time together. Sharing food and being able to come together intentionally is a special time I hope the women enjoy. This past Monday I made a Life Group favorite; s’mores dip. Because of this sugary delight, the room is filled with the smell of chocolate and marshmallows. We’re surrounded by the smell of the s’mores, reminding us of sitting around a camp fire telling scary stories. The ambient light of the strung lights fills the room. Soft guitar music takes a back seat to the sound of munching mouths. Smiles fill the room as we come together and share the sweet treat.
The room is filled with different photos of me and my roommate’s families, drawings, and scripture cards. The twinkling Christmas lights we have hung on the walls give the room a feeling of a warm embrace. I see the chipped paint on the walls as the room’s own character, saying hello.

After we’re done dipping and munching, we all migrate to the soft, plush beds. These sleeping “devices” are decked out with decorative pillows, back rests, and throw blankets from Target. On each wall behind the beds is a wall tapestry made of cotton, hanging from the illustrious tool of numerous college students; command strips. Each tapestry its own personality, though both black and white. Each is beautiful in their own way, like the women in Life Group!

This week, we talk over a passage in Kelli Worrall’s new book, Pierced and Embraced: Seven Life-Changing Encounters with the Love of Christ. Our topic for the night is Jesus and his mother Mary. Mrs. Worrall explains in the text the importance of being “Called to Obey” in the special context of this relationship. Our conversation is guided, but not forced. We take the time to let each willing woman verbally process the text if they’re willing to share.

Student Laura Fox says this; “Life Group has been a great experience so far – I love getting to know the girls on my floor more and exploring the stories of Jesus’ encounters with women from the Bible.”

Another Life Group goer, Ireland Mitchell says, “I like Life Group because it allows its participants to seek and see God in a way that is both personal and communal, while giving opportunity in the midst of crazy schedules to rest, reflect, and rejuvenate together.”

Want to come to our next event? Download the invite here!

Towards the end of our time, we share praise and prayer requests, met with reassuring nods and hums. Sometimes these requests are met with silence. By now the sounds have faded besides the occasional siren on the street. We praise God for the good things, and we weep with those who weep. Then, we pray, sometimes with heavy hearts, sometimes with tears. Sometimes we pray with overwhelming thankfulness and relief. As the eyes in the room open once again, the light beckons us to reality. Why can’t we stay in the cozy, warm, inviting room forever? It is not just a dorm room; it is a safe haven. It is a place to come and lay everything down at the cross, with no judgment. It is a place to look once again and be reminded of the love of Christ. It is life-giving. It is Life Group.

The Moody Chorale

Sacred Simplicity

There is a sound that makes the soul ache and soar in the same breath, a melodic line that envelops the strings of the listener’s heart and plays a compassionate chord. It is a tender feeling of sacred simplicity, alongside the raw truth revealed in the state of one’s soul.

Piano music, several separate individuals singing, and dozens of conversations. The sounds would be overwhelming to my auditory input, if they were not so closely associated with beauty, comfort, and excitement. Upon entering, there can be no mistake for me: this is a unique place. The Yamaha piano is being played by a woman who is energetic to her core: whose smile cascades throughout the room, whose focus and determination push the members to highest excellence. She speaks with gentleness, care, and humility. As she plays the piano, she sets up the songs that will be rehearsed that afternoon, causing the melodies to reverberate around our minds. This woman, the conductor, leads the Moody Chorale in a vigorous and visceral rehearsal, as they prepare for ministering to congregations across the world.

The Heart of Chorale

Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon,there is a set-up routine, a flow to the room as a whole. While I am setting my rehearsal binder on the chair, I  enveloped by wafts of coffee or essential oils from those members who are avid health nuts. Once I am settled in, it is only a matter of minutes before Fitzwater 405  is finally complete, once the last person takes their seat and the conductor takes her position in the front of the room, then I know I am ready to start the music, the blood and sustenance of the Chorale.

At first, the sounds produced are rusty and fairly timid, but as the group warms up with choral sighs, lip trills, and scales, a certain color begins to take shape. It originates in the physical mechanisms of the human voice warming up, becoming accustomed to being used that way. But this is only the beginning. I can hear the next major shift when the sheet music is brought out and is being learned. The earliest stages of learning the music are awkward, the different voices fumbling between lyrics, pitches, and beats.

The procedure of refinement has little trace of elegance, but somehow through the process a transformation of the group  is realized by the end. There is a sound that makes the soul ache and soar in the same breath, a melodic line that envelops the strings of the listener’s heart and plays a  compassionate chord. It is a tender feeling of sacred simplicity, alongside the raw truth revealed in the state of one’s soul.

The lyrics of the song implant truth into the mind, rejoicing in the reality of the hope and glory of Jesus Christ. Music is the language of the depths and heights, the places mere words lose their gravity. A group of men and women, college students, have created an experience by singing their part in a musical masterpiece.

The History of the Chorale

The Moody Chorale was founded in 1946 in the wake of World War II. Since then, its goal was, and still is, to minister to people around the world, proclaiming the Good News of Jesus through song, testimony, and spoken Scripture. It quickly became one of the leading collegiate choral groups in the United States, specializing in sacred music primarily unaccompanied by any other instrument.  The Chorale’s rehearsals occur on campus, but the performance locations differ greatly, from the school’s coffee shop, to local churches in the Chicagoland area, to international touring every other year.

Click here for more information about a local Chicago concert this December, Candlelight Carols 2017

Over the years, the Chorale has toured to over 20 different countries, singing in churches, schools, government buildings, and orphanages. The legacy left by this choir has been far-reaching, due to the musical excellence that blesses those who hear it.

The power of the music that is produced by the Chorale begins in the rehearsal room, and  extends beyond the walls in every space it is heard, making the refinement process in the early stages so important. The physical place this occurs, the classroom in Fitzwater, is simple, with small hand-made signs to mark the Chorale’s territory. But the foundation of the their identity lies not in the room of risers set in a semicircle around the piano, or even the diverse array of people who arrive at 3:30P.M., but in the music that gracefully fills the room and permeates the being of those singing, and those listening.

The Conductor

Learn more about the conductor of Chorale, Dr. Xiangtang Hong, in the video below:


Symphony Nursing Home

A Place With Many Stories

By Mackenzie Jones

Santi Poni is 106 years old and makes his home in Symphony Nursing home of Lincoln Park in Chicago, Illinois, but he does not speak English. Instead, he speaks a muddled mix of Spanish and Italian fluidly in conversation. Santi often sneaks across the hall and snatches a towel from the clean laundry cart, or sits in his room at a small table, fork and knife in hand, waiting for his dinner. In World War II he was a tailor for military uniforms. One of the few ways he he can be clearly understood is through two young men who the Lord has placed in Symphony Nursing home to serve there for their PCM; one is Italian and one is Mexican. Santi is lonely, and his joy to have the ability to have a conversation with someone else is evident.

Across the United States there are 1,351,616 patients in nursing homes, and in Illinois alone, there are 68,840. This does not include in-home care, or many assisted-living homes. While the majority of residents are elderly, there is a percentage of varied ages for many reasons. Out of the number of residents in nursing homes, many are not visited by family or friends and are often left there until their death.


About Symphony

A year ago Symphony Nursing Home changed ownership from Imperial Pavilion to Symphony. Symphony is a post-acute network of nursing homes in several locations in the Chicagoland area as well as in Indiana and Wisconsin. The Lincoln Park location currently has 208 residents and is 93% occupied. It provides Alzheimer’s care, respite care, independent living care, and rehabilitation care. It consists of five floors, each with a different purpose in the care provided. One floor is devoted to patients with Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, while another is for assisted and independent living care.

“There is nothing glamorous about nursing homes: no obvious beauty or anything that makes them a desirable place to spend time.”

On entering the doors, the smell of chemicals mixed with body odor, urine, and cleaning supplies makes its appearance. With their yellow and cream color, the walls resemble the walls of a hospital. The residents are throughout every floor of the building, some sitting in their wheelchairs in the hallway, walking from their room to the dining room, or being escorted from a physical therapy session back to their room. The staff is kept busy monitoring the residents, administering medications, painting nails, or playing bingo. It is a quiet place, often the only sounds heard are the beeping of medical instruments or alarms for the residents who are prone to attempt escape from their chairs or beds.

A year ago, when I first entered Symphony Nursing Home I thought I knew what to expect because of my past interactions elderly and experiences in nursing homes in the past. However, as my expectations changed, I was reminded that they have thoughts, feelings, desires and want someone to love them just as anyone made in the image of God. Knowing each story and having a personal relationship with them is vital to us. Our group has now grown to six students going weekly. Every Wednesday, we spend 90 minutes at Symphony Nursing Home interacting with patients and residents from ages 106 (like Santi Poni) to 45. In our conversations with them we find that they are lonely, long to be loved, to be wanted. The elderly and disabled are often set away after they have lived out the best years of their life and forgotten by family. Sitting from day to day with only their television, the mundane pattern of bingo once a week and meals three times a day mirrors the way something that is not valued in an ever changing world finishes out its days. Sarah, one of the ministry members expressed, “My biggest joy has been seeing the residents eyes light up with they realize that someone antes to listen to what they think” she went on to say, “It seems like they are really lonely all the time and when someone listens it makes their day and often results in good tears”.

“My biggest joy has been seeing the residents eyes light up with they realize that someone antes to listen to what they think”

The most important part of this ministry is the relationships that we are able to build. This is when we truly begin to know their heart and see their personal pain. However, not only have I seen the way we are able to serve them, but I have also seen the work that the Lord is doing in our own hearts through the residents. We are taught about seeing things for good, we are taught about giving when you have nothing and we are taught what it is to continue on when hope seems lost. To me, the ministry they have to us is equally meaningful.

Get the postcard for our upcoming event! Download below.

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See more information and stories by Mackenzie Jones:

Symphony Nursing Home from Mackenzie Hope on Vimeo.


What is RACO?

The Resident Activities Council (RACO) is an  organization designed to bring students together and build community through God-honoring events and fun activities at the Moody Bible Institute.  Unlike other student groups, RACO’s goal is not to evangelize but to help unify fellow believers on Moody’s campus. RACO meets every Monday in ASC II and is open to ALL students.

The general council of RACO is the backbone of the group. Any student is able to join our general council during the year. Without these individuals, RACO would not be able to operate. They provide the executive team with encouragement, ideas, and support throughout the year. The general council ranges in size from week to week. Around 35 people will attend RACO meetings throughout the year, with about 15 devout members. They are the cultivators working in the field of dreams. From scooping ice-cream to creating art pieces, these students serve in various capacities to create a fun environment at our events.

Our History

The first council meeting happened over 35 years ago, yet RACO continues to strive for fellowship within the student body on MBI’s campus. The Resident Activities Council is comprised of three executive members and about 25 members on its GenCo (general council). Our current president, Alyssa Button, audaciously leads this organization.

Our President 

Alyssa Button, our current president, audaciously leads the club through the good times and the bad. Joining the club in the spring of 2017, she was impacted by the love existing in this organization.  As the leader of a group that plans fun events and activities, Alyssa uses her administrative skills to do just that. Delegating tasks to the members of her general and executive teams, she makes sure her entire organization is on the same page. She cares deeply about this organization and wants it to be place of joy for anyone on campus feels welcome to be a part of our community.

As she directs our group with a leader’s heart, she also likes to have fun. Participating in other activities around campus such as Sigma Phi: a group of students that welcome the new freshmen and make them feel at home, Alyssa likes to make campus life at Moody fun. When it comes to competing in the games, Alyssa is the first one to step up to the plate. She cares deeply about this organization and wants it to be place for anyone on campus feels welcome to be a part of our community.

“If God’s pursuit on us is a pursuit of joy, then why would I not encourage that within our student body?”

With a smile on her face, Alyssa desires to lead with a positive attitude. RACO is a group of fun and encouraging people. Through prayer and fellowship, joy is going to be in the heart of Alyssa Button and those around her. Alyssa wants to share that joy with others, and RACO is simply an outlet to do so.


Where is RACO?

RACO meetings and events take place in the heart of Chicago on the campus of Moody Bible Institute. The Moody Bible Institute is a Gospel-centered school in the heart of Chicago. Dwight Lyman Moody started one of the first Bible-specific schools in the U.S. The Bible Work Institute of the Chicago Evangelization Society (later renamed Moody Bible Institute) was founded in 1886. D.L. Moody was passionate about inner-city missions and wanted to prepare young adults for a lifetime of ministry. Moody famously said: “If this world is going to be reached, I am convinced that it must be done by men and women of average talent. After all, there are comparatively few people in this world who have great talents.” This man reached thousands for the glory of Jesus Christ. He continues to make a mark on this earth through the Christians for whom he has paved the way.

To learn more about RACO, feel free to read the article below.
What is RACO? (article)  

Fall 2017 Events 

Aug. 19thStudent Fair @3-5 PM Location: ASC II

Aug 28thFirst RACO Meeting  @9PM Location: East Conference Room; ASC II 

Sept. 29thGuac & Roll: A Night of Guacamole, Music, & More  @7PM Location: Plaza

Oct. 6thLaCroix & Lecrae: Sparkling Water & Christian Rap @9PM Location: Dryer Roof

Oct. 27thDubstep Dodgeball: Dodgeball Tournament with DJ

Nov. 11thNorth South Bowl: Dryer vs. Culby, Smith vs. Houghton football game @11AM Location: MBI Soccer Field 

Nov. 13th Free Donuts & Hot Chocolate @9:30AM Location: Sweeting 1 

Media Files

Click to download advertising materials for RACO events

Dubstep Dodgeball Postcard 

North South Bowl Poster 

Brooke Darling: SLAM

A Night at SLAM

Fly-By: Views from the Street

On any given day, pedestrians and drivers alike pass by the Solheim Center with barely more than a subconscious glance in its direction. The building assumes a quiet presence on the block, ever lending itself to much attention beyond that of those who walk through its doors for work, practice, or daily exercise.
Change the setting and time to Monday nights at 6:00, however, and the atmosphere is turned upside down. This is the location of a ministry known as SLAM, the sports ministry that operates under Grip Outreach for Youth. What would usually be the underwhelming experience upon walking indoors of a spacious lobby and faint locker room odor is accompanied by a crowd of teenagers and volunteers, as well as an energy so dense that it is nearly palpable.

True to Our Welcome

Throughout a night of SLAM, activities and moods may change from hour to hour, but the level of engagement is constant. At the beginning of the night, the entrance to the Solheim center is bombarded with rambunctious young adults who can only be more hyped up as they interact with the events and staff members serving to construct the night. Mere seconds standing in the foyer may be all that pass until one is approached by another and swept into conversation of some kind. Even if not actively engaging in conversation, the number of people inhabiting the space makes it impossible not to passively engage in talk that occurs on the left, right, and every direction extending to each wall.

What bountiful material there is to discuss between two people who have been apart for no more than 7 days!

Yet, this is exactly what volunteers of this ministry are there to do: every relationship gained is one that may allow for the gospel to be further advanced. That is why a space crowded by humans is vital to this ministry, which revolves around Life-on-Life interactions between the students and staff.

Not All Fun and Games

Once the initial welcome phase of a night at SLAM has ended, all who are attending make their way through two sets of double doors that give way to a three-court gym. It is here that four teams of different color battle for victory in the form of a pizza party. Equipment may be used for certain games, but it is the heart and spirit of each team that serve as their greatest leverage against the other three. The main goal of the ministry is to prevent anyone from feeling as though they don’t belong, though some healthy competition through games can help to unify individual team members and be an enjoyment to all.

Strengthening the Bond

After the games have concluded, each team splits up from the rest to spend time refocusing their hearts on the relational aspects of the ministry. The signaling of a change in pace is understood by all as the gym is emptied out once again, one sweaty human at a time. Each
student and coach return to their respective team, and teams are then separated to go to a different portion of the building. The two teams whose turn it is to hear truths from God’s word make their way up a single, wide set of stairs overlooking the foyer, and down the hall to the aerobics room.

Machinery that is used any other time of the day by those looking to exercise their bodies stands silent, as it is not physical but spiritual exercise that is sought after during this time.

In the center of the room, on a wood floor that extends to each of the four walls, students and volunteers make themselves as comfortable as possible to ready themselves for the ingesting of God’s Word. When this is over, even smaller groups of people are created, who shuffle down the carpeted hall to settle down and discuss what was heard. This time, though not the only one centered on relationship, serves as the lifeblood of relationships at SLAM. Without a time that volunteers can connect with their small group of students in an enclosed setting, free of distractions, the purpose of the night would be much more difficult to attain. It is here that convictions are vulnerably poured out, highlights of each student’s
week are shared, and truths from what was taught that night are discussed.

Though the Doors May Close

One final wave of commotion sweeps through the Solheim Center as each group bands together before departing. All are joined, as at the beginning of the night, at the entrance of the building. Red, orange, blue and green jerseys are submitted back to the staff, much to the delight ofthe more fashion-minded teenagers. Though this external marker is removed as students walk out the doors to face the rest of their week, what is present inside their hearts and minds will be carried with them wherever they go.

Here is a snapshot of a night at SLAM:

For more information on the kickoff of SLAM 2017:

Click Here

Calvary Middle School

The Aroma of Middle Schoolers

The Scent

I could smell it once I walked in. The building was inspiring– pale light from the stained glass turning my eyes upward to arches and spires. Faint laughter welcomed me better than any doormat could, the coffee whispered promises of staying awake until dawn, and the cool breeze floating in from outside assured me that I wasn’t too far from God’s creation.

But, it was the scent that led me deeper and deeper into the church. I, like a bloodhound, tried to find its source until I realized that there wasn’t one.

  Instead, the entire church was saturated with a wild, liturgical scent. Someone who had studied aromatherapy may have attributed it to old books and wood, but I recognized it as the scent of theology. The yellowing books and faded brown shelves were testaments to the church’s long acquaintance with it.

However, when I entered the basement, young boys and girls seemed to be unaware of the grand liturgy of Calvary Memorial Church. Amid the doctrinal statements and creeds, they broke into boisterous laughter. Standing next to the pews and hymnals, they wore their Nyan Cat sweatshirts and soccer cleats. The Calvary Memorial Middle School Youth Group did not seem to be aware of the spires and stained glass, the coffee and the communion table. They didn’t seem to fit in.

But they smelled like theology.

Calvary has a long history of theological insistence. The first pastor, Dr. Louis Talbot, would later establish the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University. The current staff has a long and impressive list of credentials, ranging from Doctor of Philosophy, Founder of the Pastor-Theologian Conference, writer for Christianity Today, published author, and singer-songwriter. The staff has a love of God and a clear desire to know Him.

The middle school youth group was shocking devoid of doctorates. However, they were still unique. Many of the students didn’t seem aware that they were remarkably different than other groups. Just like we cannot recognize our own scent, they didn’t have the ability to smell the theology on them. It was not until they were forced to turn their attention to their hope in God that they recognized the aroma.

Hope in the Face of Grief

Over the summer, one of their fellow students passed away. She was an active member of the group and great friend to many of the seventh-grade girls. Unknown to anyone, she was struggling with depression and took her own life.

Any group would struggle with that tragedy, and Calvary was no exception. Many young girls had lost a friend, and a young boy had lost his sister. The face of the tragedy was ugly and twisted. But, there was hope; she was a believer. With that knowledge, the students grieved differently. Although knowing that she was with the Lord did not minimize their feelings, they remained confident that she was now free of her pain. It was their theology that allowed them to mourn with joy and grieve with hope.

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Socializing and Structure

Calvary Memorial Church’s insistence on theology is not only cognitive recognition. On the average youth group night, the students hung out until Pastor Joey called them into the meeting room. There, some openly held pens and notebooks while others hid their cell phones inside their sweatshirts. Pastor Joey had a unique ability: he managed to explain how difficult topics related to their lives. But, the message did not end with simple acceptance. The students were cognizant enough to poke and prod it, relating it to their own narrative.

“Many youth ministers often talk about bringing the “cookies” down to the lower shelf for young people and I’ve found middle schoolers are extremely sharp. You can actually teach them deep theology, you can teach them deep Bible, you can teach them more than many people think you can do. For me, instead of taking cookies and putting them on the lower shelf, I’m trying to find the best cookies and make them tastier for students.”

-Pastor Joey

This archetypal structure has been around for about as long as Cavalry has existed. Calvary began in 1917 in a different location, but the scent of theology has followed them. Although the youth group has not been around for 100 years, the church has met for that long, and middle school students have always been encouraged to attend.

And attend they have. The middle school youth group has grown over the past several years and students continue to spread their scent. Whether they are meeting in fellowship or listening to the message, the group is no exception to the overwhelming scent of theology at Calvary Memorial.

For information on Calvary’s Fall Retreat

Pui Tak Christian School

Culture Change

To get to Pui Tak Christian School, I take the musty Red Line Subway,
then I hop off at the Cermak/Chinatown stop and boom: a transformation of cultural architecture. The skyscrapers that loom are replaced by red rooves that hold a glimpse deep into Chinese


Pui Tak was founded in 1953 to accommodate the children whose parents desired for them to be Christian leaders in both Chinese and American cultures. This culture combination began when some Chinese immigrated to Chicago in 1878, possibly due to the rise of the Industrial Revolution in the face of China’s failed attempt to adopt Western. Within 12 years, there were over 500 immigrants in Chicago. However, there was discrimination in the area that caused them to resettle into what is present day Chinatown. On the approach of present day Chinatown, every visitor is met with a large red arch known as Friendship Gate. This is the first symbol of friendliness to outsiders. When I saw this gate, I thought I was about to enter the quintessence of life for Chinese immigrants. I saw the history book background that I learned while growing up collide with the stories I have heard of families who have cared for the future so much that the sacrifices were worth it all.


The first time I visited Pui Tak Christian School, I assumed the classrooms would looks like typical American classrooms but with Chinese students.

That it would smell like cleaning supplies and I would feel the government’s educational authority in every book on every shelf. I was agape when I went into the basement and saw room dividers, not walls. When all I smelled were the dirty undertones of Chinatown mixed with children’s intense body odor from play-time. While I expected a “normal” school – apart from talking about Jesus – I experienced an environment of kids who are being closely developed and discipled from the moment the welcome sign is visible.

Volunteering at Pui Tak is like being a freelance helper. One week I may eat Cheez-its with the 3rd graders amid their math homework, but the next I may be in the pre-school being smothered with hugs and questions too deep for 4-year-olds to ask. I love the diversity among the students: 2nd generation Americans from China and the African American children whose parents desire that they have a Christian foundation.


I have grown to love some of the kids I teach at Pui Tak. One girl, Isabella is one of the most controlling yet kind 2nd graders I know. Between her mother being one of the key figures at Pui Tak and being an older sibling to a kindergartner, she knows her place. Her voice carries over the little yells of her peers as a voice of strength and weight – her games are what will be played. While her role is evident, Isabella is always sure to include the girl in the corner. She wants to make sure everyone gets a turn and is heard.

Then there is Derek, or as he prefers to be called – DJ. Every time I show up on a Thursday, DJ is yelling about something and probably sprawled on the floor after a friendly tussle with another kid. He sasses his teachers for his own entertainment. DJ does not wish to lead, he wants to have fun. I have a secret belief that he loves his school-work as well, even though he may never listen when I try to explain his math to him. Becoming a respected friend to kids like Isabella and DJ is my goal while I am at Pui Tak. They inspire me to love and to give the shabby building a chance.

Purpose Beneath False Perceptions

Those who work, serve, and attend Pui Tak do not look at the low fluorescent lighting, the peeling tan wallpaper, or the old VHS TV on a cart. They do not see the neighborhood coated in American commercialism. The parents of Pui Tak’s students look past the physical appearance not only of the school, but also of the whole area. I want the eyes of Christ that I believe these people have: they see the community of children, the growth that comes through Christian role-models, and the humble discipline that is nurtures true character in these little followers of Christ.

Read more about one of Pui Tak’s teachers in this feature article by Sarah Swann.

Welcome to Pui Tak




Meeting Cindy
Cindy is an average looking lady in her 50s, just like most Chinese house wives in her age: out of shape, short, curly black hair, always carrying a pair of reading glasses in her shoulder purse. Cindy used to have a good life and owned a small business in Guangdong China before she moved to the United States. After her two children graduated from middle school, she decided to give up her business, her friends, and her home to move to the States with her family to seek a better education for her children.

After three years being in the States, she still struggles to recall the alphabet fluently. Since she spent most of her time making a living in a Chinese restaurant every day, she hardly has any opportunities to learn English. As Cindy was telling me how hard it was to live here without knowing how to speak English, I can see tears in the corner of her eyes, waiting to fall. She wants to make enough money to support her children to go to university, but without knowing a word of English, she can only work in Chinese restaurants in Chinatown. Cindy often faces exploitation in work just because she does not know English. Even though she is in her mid-50s, yet she has a strong desire to learn this new language.

Sharing Christ’s Love 
It was almost impossible for her to hire a private tutor due to her finical problem. Somehow she found Pui Tak center, which is e able to offer her free one on one private tutoring. After chatting with me for about an hour and a half, she asked if I get paid by Pui Tak to tutor her. I said, “no.” Then she asked if I received any benefits from the government for doing this? I said, “no.” Seeing the surprised expression on her face, I knew it was hard for her to believe that many other volunteers and I were coming here weekly to teach English for free. I told her that sometimes helping people makes us happier than earning a lot of money. Silence went on for a while. She then promised me that she will give her best effort to learn and try her best to practice.

To Serve Immigrants like Cindy
Not only Cindy, but many other Chinese immigrants that live in Chinatown whom moved to Chicago to seek a better life, are living much more difficult live than when they were in China. Most of them are stuck in Chinatown because they do not speak any English. Many of them are lonely, being exploited by their employer in a foreign country. Pui Tak Center provides a great place for these immigrants to learn English and help adjust the culture, as well as a place for Christian to show love and help those in need. There are massive needs for tutors weekly, click now to learn more about how to volunteer with us!

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 Pui Tak Gallery

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Impacting Kids’ Lives for Eternity

Who we are: Inner City Impact

Inner City Impact (ICI) exists to serve the children from Chicago’s inner city and to bring them hope. We are a non-profit organization that operates through generous donors and committed volunteers, who have deep compassion and love for Chicago’s inner city children, and who desire to see the kids impacted by the good news of Jesus Christ. In order to reach as many kids as possible, we are located in two different neighborhoods: Logan Square and Cicero.

What we do: After School Programs

We open our doors for after school programs from Tuesdays through Fridays for kids and teenagers between 5-18 years. Our staff embraces the given time with the kids as they give them their full attention while playing, doing crafts and hanging out with them. Every Friday we intentionally set time apart to share with the kids the good news of the gospel in form of interactive Bible studies.

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What we desire: To See Chicago’s Inner City Kids Impacted

It is our desire to make the kids feel welcomed and to provide a safe space for them. We hope that ICI is a place in which the kids feel loved and are given the opportunity to be honest, to heal and to grow.

“It is our desire to make a difference in these kids’ lives, to bring children hope by offering them a safe place, and to share with them the good news of Jesus Christ. “

Do you want to get regular updates on how God is impacting kids’ lives through ICI? Download our newsletter!