ROOFTOP REVELATIONS: Day 100 with Pastor Corey Brooks
CHICAGO – From a rooftop in the South Side of Chicago, Pastor Corey Brooks led a 100-day vigil to build a community center to transform the South Side of Chicago into a thriving community. On the 100th day, he wished to share his views with his audience and to reflect on his experience and God’s timing.
What follows has been lightly edited. We strongly encourage you to watch the accompanying video so you may hear the pastor in his own words.
For the past 100 days and 99 bitter cold nights, I’ve been camped out on top of these eight shipping containers on the South Side of Chicago at a location where our church hopes to build a new community center. My plan was to spend 100 nights upon the rooftop to raise funds for the center while also raising awareness of the plague of violence in Chicago.
100 days upon the roof in Chicago’s winter, I figured would be more than enough to raise the funds to build a community center.
But my timing, as is often the case, was not God’s timing.
While fundraising is going well and we have been blessed by the generosity of so many donors, we’ve not yet met our goal.
For the past few weeks, I have sensed that God was telling me to stay up on the roof until the fundraising for this project was complete. I know it was God’s voice telling me to remain on the roof because it certainly wasn’t my heart’s desire. Temperatures have gotten down to minus 20 degrees with the wind chill factor, and I have been eagerly looking at my calendar, counting the days until I would come down from this rooftop.
During my time up here, I’ve invited CEOs of major corporations, religious leaders, college presidents and politicians to spend a night camping out with me. Those who have camped out with me have seen firsthand why our community is in need of more resources and better programs for our youth.
The Woodlawn neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago is known for gun violence. In fact, during my time up on this roof, I’ve heard countless gunshots fired with near constant sounds of police sirens waiting in the background. This is a community where nearly 50% of the households make less than $25,000 a year. Poverty is rampant and fatherlessness is rampant. Our feelings are hopelessness.
Hopelessness and fear are the primary emotions that compel young men in Chicago to join violent gangs in the first place. But feelings of rootedness in a relationship with Jesus, a strong sense of self-worth and ties to the community are the three best ways to prevent growth of gangs and to help young men transition from being violent gang members to productive members of our society.
This pervasive hopelessness on the South Side of Chicago is precisely why we feel so called to create this community center, so God can transform even the most hopeless individuals. And in my 22 years of serving as a pastor in this community, I’ve seen the life-changing transformation that only God can orchestrate. I worked with former gang members to help them receive training, to start a new career and even more importantly, a new life with positions in construction, the lawn service industry and the restaurant industry. Often, these men are desperate to be given a second chance. Through our church, New Beginnings Church and Project H.O.O.D., we’ve given them that opportunity to get a fresh start in life.
This vision for our future community center is simple. With an 85,000 square foot center, we will be able to expand the programs and services to more individuals. Our plan is that this community center will become the center of our community, providing hope and a future to a forgotten neighborhood. We will offer tools to children and to young adults to reach their God-given potential. We will have classes and job trainings and all of these financial literacy trainings to improve them. We’ll have gym facilities, music facilities, art facilities.
These spaces will be used to hold community meetings, and we’ll distribute necessary care and food and diapers to the community. These are not handouts the way the government carelessly scatters resources. These items are all given as recognition that we can change people, that we can help them to change their lives, that we can change the cycles of poverty and helplessness.
The needs of our community are vast, in large part because the government has, for decades, created in us a sense of dependency. The government at all levels — state, local, federal — has failed our community entirely. And our intention is to step in where government has systematically failed to meet our individual needs.
The initial plan that we started was to break ground on the center in the spring, and Lord willing, we will eventually reach that goal with your help.
God’s timing certainly isn’t my timing. As we learn in the book of Isaiah, His thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways. God calls us to trust Him even when we cannot understand current circumstances and to be patient even when we want to accelerate work in His name. These are two of the recurring lessons God has taught me throughout my life.
So for now, I will remain camped out on this roof. In the words of Nehemiah, as he worked to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, “I can’t come down, not until the work is finished and not until the job is complete, not until the purpose is fulfilled and God has completed what he has started.”
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I want to thank all of you over this last 100 days for being so faithful, for being so generous. I’m so appreciative for the rest of my life to Fox News for giving me this platform.
I want to say thank you to Eli Steele, who has produced such a magnificent show every single day. Thank you to Terrell Allen for staying out in the cold on some cold, bitter nights so that we can communicate a truth that needs to be told from a perspective that is seldom heard, from voices that you seldom hear from, from the South Side of Chicago.
And I’m reminded when they said when Jesus was born “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Well, sometimes I feel the same way about the South Side of Chicago. People are asking, “Can any good thing come from the South Side of Chicago?” And my answer is positively, absolutely, yes.
See Pastor Corey Brooks’ previous Rooftop Revelations.
For more information, please visit Project H.O.O.D.
Eli Steele is a documentary filmmaker and writer. His latest film is “What Killed Michael Brown?” Twitter: @Hebro_Steele.
Camera by Terrell Allen.
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