Chicago church planter Edgar Rodriguez, Jr., is organizing Christians to march and prayer walk in the city’s neighborhoods starting July 13, after gun violence over the holiday weekend injured 87 and killed 17. Rodriguez, pastor of New City Fellowship, will start in his backyard in Humboldt Park. After that he plans to move on to other neighborhoods, including Logan Square, Englewood, Austin, Garfield, and Roseland. He’s working to get other churches to join him.
“Where salt and light are, darkness leaves,” Rodriguez said. His family and a few others try to patrol their Chicago neighborhood often to drive out the darkness. In 2020, more than 1,600 people have been shot in the city and at least 329 have been killed.
“God has put it on my heart to be a bridge builder to other communities,” the pastor told the Illinois Baptist. He hopes at least 100 Christian men will join him in prayer walking the city’s neighborhoods and stand in the gap. He said “the Lord has been reminding me we battle not against flesh and blood…We are sojourners and press on as best as we can to advance the kingdom as best as we can for the mission that he has called us.”
The escalating violence took the lives of 7-year-old Natalia Wallace and 14-year-old Varnando Jones over the Fourth of July weekend. Pastor Corey Brooks told FOX News, “People are afraid to leave the house. Individuals are very scared, scared, scared to walk [on] the street, scared to go to the store, scared to go the playgrounds, and it’s a very unfortunate thing.”
Brooks pastors New Beginnings, an IBSA-member church in the city. He told hosts of the Fox & Friends morning show July 6 something must be done immediately about the violence. “You have a bunch of individuals, young individuals, young men who are illegal gun owners.”
“Not only are they illegal gun owners, but they are shooting at each other,” continued Brooks. “They’re causing havoc in our community and they are causing a lot of destruction and unfortunately, as a result of their destruction, children are being shot. Innocent bystanders are being shot.”
Chicago Police Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan attributed the violence to gangs in a July 6 news conference. “It’s this constant gang-on-gang violence where they’re targeting an individual. There is usually zero cooperation between these gangs because they just want go back and exact their revenge the next time around, which is what caused the death of these two children.”
Brooks is also the executive director of Project HOOD (Helping Others Obtain Destiny). According to its website, the non-profit organization works to end violence and build communities while empowering people to become peacemakers on Chicago’s south side. He shared in the interview, “In 2012, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the block that we live on was the most dangerous block in Chicago, but I’m happy to say that this weekend we had no shootings and that’s because of work, like our non-profit organization Project HOOD, that is going out and doing the work that needs to be done to make sure that we stop the violence.”
Rodriguez invited Illinois Baptists to pray and fast to stop the violence in Chicago. “That’s what it’s going to take to wage war,” he said. “That’s what it’s going to take to break strongholds…. Over the years we’ve partnered with different churches, particularly those down south. As many Christians brothers and sisters as can, come join us. For laborers in the harvest are few.”