From a Christian in the Inner City

By Bethany A Kimball, grade 9

I wanted to share with you three of the major things I do to help create an atmosphere of life in the people around me. One of the major things that I do, along with my family, is ministry in the ghetto of Chicago. I lived from birth to age 10 in the Latino area, and from 10 until now in the more African American area. When I first moved to where I live now, we were the only white family on the block. I remember going to the park (just a few houses down) to run around. As I passed by one of the picnic tables—occupied by a girl and her grandma—I heard the grandma say to the girl: “Why don’t you go play with her?” to which the girl replied, “I don’t wanna play with no white girl.” Following the advice of Luke 9: 23, I “took up my cross,” but I didn’t just politely ignore her comment, I reached out to her. 

It turns out that this girl was not well liked in the neighborhood. She also didn’t live with her parents. Her grandma was taking care of her, and her dad would only occasionally visit. I was dismayed to realize that even my siblings would run into the house when she came outside. She tended to bully those around her, causing some parents to tell their kids not to play around her. I decided that, even if I was going to get some verbal abuse for it, I would at least try to help this struggling girl through life. 

Around two years later I started a Bible study in my neighborhood, and, a few months later, she started coming. There is hardly a time when I step out of the house that she isn’t there, wanting to tell me something or another. I’ve got a long way to go before I could “send her out,” but one of the girls who used to cry after talking to this girl is now her friend. Along the way, we made friends with her brother, who is constantly with us, even being sent to our house to “learn to work” when my dad is building in our basement. It’s been a long journey, and it’s not over yet, but if one life is changed, is it not worth it? 

A big problem in the city of Chicago is teen pregnancy, I have seen it happen to the girls in my neighborhood, but only recently did I see someone I know go through it. One of the girls who I had grown to know last year recently got pregnant. I had seen 15 year olds who had gotten pregnant, but this was different. This was someone I knew. She was even someone who I thought was a Christian (though I never asked). 

I won’t necessarily say I was shocked, but I was saddened. My parents had taught me about these things, because it was our mission to live in the city and help people like her. I also knew that many times pregnant teens would often get an abortion, being pressured by their peers or their boyfriend. But I also knew that there were so many other options besides abortion. There is Safe Families for Children, an organization where single parents can get their kids taken care of while they get themselves a job or a home. If the young mom doesn’t feel capable, there is always adoption. You may be wondering how this relates to me. My family is a part of the Safe Family for Children organization. We take in babies while their parents get themselves together. When a baby comes into our home, I feed him, get him dressed, watch him, and wake up early to take care of him in the morning. I support my mom, who in turn supports Safe Families, which in turn supports moms who have decided not to get an abortion, but who nevertheless need help. 

My family lives here so we can minister to the people around us. By having a Bible study and teaching the young women in our community, I can grow an atmosphere of life where the people around me, rather than turning to boyfriends, can turn to Jesus. I can show the young ladies around us that there is another choice, that they don’t have to be like the people around them, that they can grow up to be a mother of their own children and a wife to one husband. The girls in my Bible study have learned what the spirit of a woman should be (1 Peter 3:4) and what true love is. They are still little girls, but I have seen so much improvement in only one year. And I know that I am making a difference in their lives. What I do today influences what happens tomorrow. Even if I feel like it’s such a small pin-prick in the world, I can see exponential growth. The girls I teach today will one day grow up to be women in charge of a household with their own children and husband. They will be a good influence on their children, who will grow up and have influence on their children, and so on. Besides that, I have taught my young girls to share their faith with those around them. Then they teach others and those others tell others, and on and on. It turns from one to four to 20 to 40 to 80 until the whole world knows! 

I am a young girl with a big vision. There are many other pens, but the ones that are held are the ones that will write a story. I hope that I have let myself be held by the author of creation today, and I pray that you will let the author use you to create an atmosphere of life in the world around you.

© 2018 Bethany A Kimball. Published with permission.