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AAEO Day 6 — Reaching out in word and deed
Adam Miller, North American Mission Board
March 12, 2010
6 MIN READ TIME

AAEO Day 6 — Reaching out in word and deed

AAEO Day 6 — Reaching out in word and deed
Adam Miller, North American Mission Board
March 12, 2010

Two blocks east of the “El”

Train Red Line in Uptown Chicago, a lady named Susan limps over from under a

covered bus stop.

“That’s my spot. I was here.

I just had to sit down.”

She marks her spot by

hanging two canvas bags on the fence where a dozen men and women are lined up

outside Uptown Baptist Church.

“I was here. This weather is

killing my arthritis.”

Her voice is husky but kind.

She limps toward the bus stop, sits and takes a sip from something tightly

wrapped in brown paper, looks over her shoulder again, then settles back

against the glass enclosure.

Photo by Ted Wilcox

North American Mission Board Week of Prayer missionaries Michael and Marla Allen live in Chicago, Ill., where Michael serves as pastor of Uptown Baptist Church. See video.

As the line builds, she

comes back.

Next Monday, she says, they’re

giving out shoes.

“Could you help me with

this?” asks Susan, holding up a kids’ Revenge of the Sith wristwatch six hours

fast. “It’s a cheap watch. I don’t know how to fix it. It’s not a very nice

watch.”

Every Monday around 4:30

p.m. the iron gate separating Uptown Baptist from the sidewalk creaks open and

some 350 homeless men and women file into pews for a word from scripture then

to the basement for a hot meal.

Shouldering computer bags

and backpacks, a flock of Chicagoans scatter from the train and the buses

toward home or an evening job in one of the city’s most diverse communities.

This is North American

Mission Board (NAMB) missionary Michael Allen’s mission field.

“Uptown is one of the most

diverse places in the Chicago area,” said Allen. “It’s diverse in almost every

way you can imagine — ethnically, socio-economically, in gender and in age. It’s

home to retirees, young couples, newborns, the brilliant and the mentally ill.”

Nearly 80 languages are

represented in Uptown’s public schools. The neighborhood’s population includes

government officials, college professors, business professionals and a

sub-culture of “down-and-outs.”

Allen is one of more than

5,300 missionaries in the United States, Canada and their territories supported

by the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering®. He is among the NAMB missionaries

featured as part of the annual Week of Prayer, March 7-14, 2010. This year’s

theme is “Live with Urgency: Share God’s Transforming Power.” The 2010 Annie

Armstrong Easter Offering’s goal is $70 million, 100 percent of which benefits

missionaries like Allen.

Allen has worked with social

ministries for years, beginning with his tenure at Moody Bible Church and

continuing with leadership at homeless and recovery ministries throughout the

city.

His ability to interact across a broad spectrum has given the Jamaican-born

pastor a voice among Chicago businessmen and politicians.

“One day I could be at a

press conference with the mayor of Chicago and all the movers and shakers and

be in a suit and tie, then later that day on the street talking to somebody who’s

drunk and just gave his girlfriend AIDS,” said Allen.

Photo by Ted Wilcox

NAMB missionary Michael Allen greets Chicago’s homeless men and and women who’ve come to Uptown Baptist Church for Bible study and a free meal. Allen uses the Monday night meal to encourage the needy and hurting to become a part of the church community. See video.

“It’s a powerful thing.

It’s an amazing thing. It’s God at work changing people’s lives and I get to be

used by Him to accomplish it.”

Tonight, Allen is hosting an

hour-long Q & A session with a top Chicago attorney who’ll help attendees

understand and navigate the legal system. Then those who’ve come here will hear

the gospel and gather for a meal of hot chicken and pasta. Later on in the

evening, 50 homeless women will make a pallet for the night in one of the

church’s rooms.

Outside the walls of the

church, Uptown Baptist also is impacting local schools with a launch of Child

Evangelism Fellowship, a door opened when the church provided backpacks and

school supplies at the request of Chicago’s mayor. Allen joined other church

leaders, challenging them to show up at schools nearby to welcome children,

interact with teachers and administration, and provide students with backpacks

full of paper, pencils and notebooks.

“One of the principals said,

‘I didn’t know what we were going to do. I didn’t know how we were going to

provide for all these kids who were unprepared on the first day of school,’”

Allen recounted. “And here we were — at the mayor’s invitation — showing up

during the time of need.

“The deepest need of

humankind is always to know God and to reconnect with God,” Michael added.

“Whatever surface problems are going on around us, if we stop long enough and

look carefully enough, we would see that it’s a spiritual problem. It’s a heart

problem. We need to seize that opportunity before us and to continue to be real

with people.”

If you were to ask Allen his

priorities in order of importance, loving his family and discipling his

children would come first. His resume credentials mount up, from education to

inner-city experience, but his job as father is of primary importance to him.

“In a survey of hundreds of

homeless people, the recurring theme we saw was an inability to respect

authority and a lack of strong male leadership in the home,” Allen

said. “I’m passionate about seeing the church change some bleak

statistics.

“Whether times are good or

bad, Allen added, “the opportunities are there to be a light, to be a witness

and to share the good news of the Gospel in word and deed. The time has come

for us to be a living example and to speak the truth in love and I think if we

do this, we will be more like Jesus.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Miller is a writer for the

North American Mission Board.)

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AAEO Day 6: Reaching out in word and deed

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