CHICAGO (BP) — Marcus Randle didn’t plan to be a pastor. He never dreamed he’d start a church. The lifelong Chicagoan was happy as a social worker.
But God had another idea.
“I oftentimes say, if you really want to see God laugh, tell Him your plans,” Randle said.
As empty-nesters, Randle and his wife Mattie opened their home to women who needed help recovering from addictions, launching Resurrection House in 2005. The committed followers of Jesus used biblical principles to disciple and nurture the women.
“So the women began to ask us more about spiritual things,” Randle said. “They began asking us if they could go to church with us.”
Randle realized Chicago needed more churches — many more churches. Southern Baptists currently have 275 congregations in the Chicago metro area of 8.7 million. That’s one SBC church for every 31,791 people. Just over 9 percent of the population is affiliated with an evangelical church.
Chicago needed churches especially to reach the broken and hurting people he was accustomed to seeing as a social worker, Randle found.
From the Randles’ ministry to broken women, Resurrection House Baptist Church was born.
Deidre Davis, a graduate of the Resurrection House recovery program, was one of the church’s first converts. At rock bottom and near desperation, Davis longed for deliverance from alcohol and drug addictions.
With appreciation for Alcoholics Anonymous and other programs that helped her on her journey, Davis credits God for rescuing her from a life of drugs and alcohol.
“No human power could have alleviated this addiction,” Davis said. “And I know it was only the power of God.”
Randle’s wife Mattie especially began to disciple Davis, teaching her what it means to have a relationship with Christ. Today, Davis teaches a class on prayer at the Resurrection House.
Davis is representative of the group of people the Randles want to reach.
“Coming out of the Resurrection House and social services, I’ve seen a lot of people who have been addicted to drugs and alcohol and maybe been to prison or were HIV positive,” Randle said. “They don’t know how to fit in. They’ve had some knowledge of God, but couldn’t really fit into mainstream church life.”
The Randles love the city that has been their lifelong home.
“It’s a melting pot; it has what we call nowadays a ‘glocal’ feeling to it,” Randle said. “It’s global but local at the same time. I don’t have to get on a long plane and go to Indonesia to do ministry or missionary work. All I have to do is go to one of the universities here or go to any corner.”
Randle believes new evangelical churches are needed to break down walls of skepticism toward organized religion.
“We’re primarily seeing in the city of Chicago that a lot of people are skeptical,” Randle said. “They understand the Gospel, but the institutionalized church keeps them away. I believe part of our mission is to break down some of the barriers. I think that sometimes we make it much too hard for people to enter into our churches.”
People like Davis often get left out.
“I believe that the one thing that Deidre offers to the world is to say that faithfulness pays off,” Randle said. “It doesn’t mean it is going to automatically turn around. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your life is going to get dramatically better, but if you stick to it, if you just don’t give up, if you don’t throw in the towel, it will be worth it all.”
Tobin Perry writes for the North American Mission Board. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).