by Melissa Bledsoe
Never would I have imagined I’d be working with youth, specifically teens, but God is all-knowing and this is what He had planned for me. I’ve been the youth development and outreach specialist at the Chicago Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center for five years now.
Most of the youth we serve in the West Pullman neighborhood on the far south side of Chicago have seen a lot: gun violence, fights, abandonment. You name it, they’ve seen it. However, one thing most of them haven’t seen is what having a relationship with Christ looks like.
When I first arrived at the Chicago Kroc Center, I was unsure what the spiritual needs of the youth members looked like, but I was determined to introduce them to Jesus Christ. Through programs and staying late with the kids, I was able to get a glimpse of what was missing. The Kroc Center held a teen Bible study every Wednesday during Family Night, and it was there where the small group of youth was able to fully express their needs. It was simple: Jesus. These teens needed to encounter our Lord and Savior because He heals all wounds.
Taking this simple activity to a deeper level and growing it to almost triple the number of participants, it has been amazing to see the spiritual development of our youth. From some actually leading Bible study, to others being encouraged to get a part-time job at the Kroc Center to others coming to worship service on Sunday, they are growing in their faith.
God is definitely on the move here at the Chicago Kroc Center, and I am honored to be a part of this transformation. I have never felt so fulfilled and am grateful God has placed me here for such a time as this.