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How a Chicago Church Empowers People through Work

Here's one positive story about how a church got creative to minister to the needs of its community. After purchasing an abandoned, run-down pool hall in Chicago's South Side, Living Hope Church began massive renovations, engaging a range of help, including church members, volunteer construction workers, generous donations, and random passersby.

Pastor Brad Beier explained that neighborhood residents would often stop by the project looking for money or some kind of material assistance. There were also a string of break-ins and burglaries, during which expensive tools and lighting fixtures were stolen.

In light of the neighborhood's 23 percent unemployment rate, the church decided to reach out. They started hiring local people. The church hired 50 people off the street, giving them a paycheck and teaching them new skills. Beier said, "Our primary way of trying to help without hurting those in need was to invite anyone who came looking for help to learn new skills or to put their existing experience to work on this old building. Along the way, we realized that completing a day's work together seemed to release a shared, God-instilled purpose and created a natural context for forming relationships."

The church helped spearhead Hope Works, "a community development ministry" that has helped 74 people find jobs.

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