Sunshine Gospel Ministries has been around for 116 years. We have weathered the ups and downs of our neighborhoods, our city, and our country. Being rooted in Chicago’s inner-city since 1920, we have lasted through 19 mayors, 21 Presidents, The Great Depression, The Great Migration, the pandemic of 1918, the Civil Rights Movement, drug crises, 9/11, and of course the pandemic of 2020.
Throughout all the triumphs and struggles, we have remained a constant in the city of Chicago. We remain grounded in our conviction that God loves the city, nothing can separate us from His love, and we are called to be present in hard places because of His love for us.
As we recover from the trauma of 2020, we are heartened by remembering the many challenges our organization has endured throughout a century! God has faithfully walked with us the entire time. NOTHING has separated us from His love! Our theme for 2021 is “Beyond 20/20; Conviction, Courage, and Creativity.” Our organization continues to grow and adapt to our changing city and neighborhood. We can look back and see how we have incorporated the values of Conviction, Courage, and Creativity from the inception. For instance, back in 1970, Sunshine transitioned from a men’s mission to a youth ministry in the Cabrini Green neighborhood. Twice the ministry has had to completely uproot and start over. Most recently in 2004 from a youth outreach in Cabrini, relocating to Woodlawn and growing into a more broad based community ministry.
Sunshine has always maintained a strong conviction to follow the example Jesus set in loving the most vulnerable and oppressed. It took courage to plant roots in this neighborhood that was often stigmatized for drugs and violence. Sunshine creatively implemented after-school programs that helped develop trust and rapport with the community and led to many coming to know Jesus in a more powerful way.
In 2001, when the Cabrini Green housing projects were torn down, residents were dispersed across the city, many ended up in the Woodlawn neighborhood. Once again, Sunshine’s conviction to be planted amongst those we are serving led to the organization purchasing our current (first) building and settling into the West Woodlawn community. Over the next 20 years, God would open creative opportunities for us to build trust with our neighbors and continue to share the love of Jesus. We saw this most evidently during the first months of quarantine in 2020 when we saw the need for food and care packages and how God provided through our generous extended network to reach thousands in our neighborhood. We established connections with neighbors that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to through our established programs.
We are excited to share with you the ways that our staff, programs, and community reflect conviction, courage, and creativity and what all believers can learn from them! We aim to move our vision beyond 20/20 vision and into a clearer, more perfect vision that Christ can give us.
They say that one always has 20/20 vision when looking at the past, and of course there is some irony in doing so in 2021 for a variety of reasons. What we hope to do this year is to reflect on the past with more than just 20/20 vision. We want to do more than just see things clearly. We want to reflect, understand, learn and grow. We also want to look ahead to embrace our calling to this city in which we minister and the community in which we serve.
God has used Sunshine staff for 116 years to serve our city in ways that required conviction to stay the course through great difficulty, courage to walk with faith through uncertainty, and creativity to see what is possible when total reinvention is needed or obstacles seem to abound.
Please pray for us as we step into 2021 with more conviction, courage, and creativity! We hope you will be encouraged in your own walk as well!