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ENCOURAGEMENT: TRANSFORMED LIVES IN AMERICA’S MOST DANGEROUS NEIGHBORHOOD
For the last 20 years, Chicago has seen an unending wave of violence. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, between 2001 – 2020 more people were killed in the Windy City than in the combined military conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Spiritual leaders in the city are joining together hoping to change that narrative. Their weapon is the power of the Gospel.
Pastor Dimas Salaberrios, a former drug dealer from New York, knows firsthand the reality of gun violence. After fasting forty days for an end to the violence, he felt compelled to take America where it happens in his film, Chicago: America’s Hidden War.
Salaberrios spent two years filming in the city and told CBN News what he sees happening there is a spiritual battle.
“I would say in Chicago there is definitely a demonic presence that I sense when I’m praying and interacting with people on the street,” explained Salaberrios.
Pastor Corey Brooks, who heads a ministry in Chicago called Project Hood, agrees with Salaberrios.
“There’s a real spiritual battle going on in the city of Chicago for the lives of people,” said Brooks. “There seems to be a spirit of murder throughout the city.” . . .
Children are among the many victims.
“We’re halfway through the year and over a hundred children have been shot already,” said Salaberrios. We have a child in our film, Quincy, who sleeps under his bed because he feels like he can get shot. He realizes from the bullet holes on the walls of his house from many drive-bys in the neighborhood that are the level of his bed – if he slept in his bed – he would be shot.” . . .
The deadly violence has also had an impact on the city’s economy.
“We had a McDonalds, of all things, to close because of the violence,” explained Brooks. “I’ve done so many funerals, unfortunately. You know, too many to even count.”
Salaberrios’ documentary, which became eligible for an Academy Award earlier this year, showcases how the church is combating the darkness through prayer and evangelism.
“They’re having marches, going door to door. They’re doing things they have not normally done,” said Brooks.
Through his ministry, Brooks reaches out directly to gang members.
“We have a violence prevention team of ten full-time employees that go out into the neighborhood to help make sure there is no retaliation for violence. To make sure that we have conflict resolution with individuals who participate in that type of lifestyle,” Brooks commented.
Salaberrios said a similar effort saved him from a life of crime and violence in New York.
“There were Christians. Three women reached out to me when I was a street god, one of the largest drug dealers. They said, ‘Can we pray for you?” explained Salaberrios. “I didn’t know what that was. When they laid hands on me the power of God knocks me to the floor, demons come manifesting out of me. They started praying in the name of Jesus. I felt a peace come over me like never before and I quit selling crack cocaine.”
Brooks believes that the same power and peace can now make a difference in his city.
“At the end of the day, we can try to supply jobs. We can try to supply counseling. We can try to give all kinds of different resources, but I really do believe ultimately it’s spiritual warfare and a battle that we’re in and it’s a battle for people’s souls,” said Brooks.
He added, “The enemy is out to kill, steal and destroy people in our community and we have to do everything that we can to push back the darkness, to push back the evil. And the way that we do that is showing the love of Christ in very practical, meaningful ways.”
Meanwhile, the word is spreading about the film with help from Hollywood of all places. Back in May, Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington, along with Mark Burnett, Roma Downey, and other celebrities rented out movie theaters to show the film and help spread its message.
Wow! How did this article encourage you? Let us know your thoughts and prayers for the violence happening in Chicago in the comments below! SHARE WITH YOUR FRIENDS!
(Excerpt from CBN. Article written by Charlene Aaron. Photo by )
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Sir, I too am a pastor. I too, believe we are in a very dark spiritual war.
I hope your film comes to Kansas City Missouri. The enemy is indeed out to kill. He’s using BLM, CRT, the Teachers Union,WHO, the Unbelievers in Christ in our government and their supporters, to name just a few. It is past time for the Church to stand up. God is calling us – all of us to return to Him. We quote, “If My people who are called by My Name will humble themselves…. and pray, I will hear and I will heal……..” The ‘if’ is us! There’s never an ‘if’ on God! God is loyal. Jesus say, “Fear not, I am with you always, even to the end.” The ball is in our court. The question is, “Can Our Father in Heaven count on His Saints? Our we followers in word only? Is it always ‘ somebody else’s problem? Is the most we personally can do is write a check and hope ‘somebody’ will take care of what ever it is. That’s like shooting at a target with a blindfold on. God has given us grace. Are we taking advantage of that grace? Look in the mirror…..do you see what God sees. Are you and I on the same wavelength-the same path? We are the Church! Let those who have ears hear.
Yes, I am encouraged that the army of God seems to be awakening to the fact that there is a war going on and we (the Ecclesia) have more powerful weapons than those made in manufacturing facilities. Ours are backed up with the power of the the Almighty Lord of Hosts (armies). Successful warfare can be waged by little old ladies, even small children, in the their prayer rooms. Hammer, hammer, hammer away at the violence. It must bow its knee.
This was very encouraging. I so appreciate the work that Pastor Salaberrios is doing in Chicago by making people aware of the spiritual side of the issue of violence there. I pray that this movie that he has done will touch many lives.
Thank you, Lord, for the boldness and courage of the women who prayed for him and how you touched his heart.
Lord we pray for your Holy Spirit to sweep through Chicago and replace the spirit of murder. In Jesus’ name save the people in Chicago!
May the power of the Holy Spirit overtake the city of Chicago and bring a stop to violence and killing in the vulnerable communities. Multiply the work of Corey Brooks and may Chicago no longer be known as a killing field but a place of life and peaceful neighborhoods. Amen.
Father, Chicago is like a foreign nation only 30 miles away. Thank You for answered prayer! Move Your peeps to minister to and support Your army on the front line in prayer and practical application. Lord, please take Chicago and then the state and then the nation! You are Unstoppable! Kindle the simmering fire in our hearts to blaze for Your glory! In the name of Jesus, Amen