It started with a church buying a liquor store 11 years ago, and the results have been staggering. 

Chicago's Humboldt Park neighbourhood is known to be a neighbourhood with significantly high crime rates, something pastor Wilfredo "Choco" De Jesus knows from growing up there.

Pastor Wilfredo 'Choco' De Jesus has been the pastor of New Life Covenant Church since 2000. Rather than seeking to preserve funds in the 2008 recession, De Jesus says his church decided they "weren't going to take part in the recession." Instead, the church bought buildings in the neighbourhood. Former drug and liquor stores became medical clinics, thrift stores, and homeless ministries.

"Since we bought that big building in a corner of Chicago, crime rate has come down by 42 per cent," says De Jesus. And, he says, every church can make a similar impact no matter where they are. He says churches need to walk with faith, display the love of Christ, and fill in the gaps of their communities.

Listen to the whole story on this episode of the Connections podcast

This story and podcast was originally published on August 26,2019