By Fr. Matt Woodley
On a muggy August Saturday afternoon outside Christ Tabernacle on Chicago’s West Side, a young man pushing a baby stroller shouts, “Father Matt, it’s me!”I reply, “Wait, José, is that you?”
“Hey, good memory,” he says. “Do you remember my little girl? She’s six months old now.”
I peer into the stroller and see a round-faced little girl wearing a headband with “Valentina” painted across the front.
Four months earlier, on a much colder day in April, I mingled with hundreds of people lining the street as they waited for diapers and baby supplies at Christ Tabernacle. That’s where I met José, once again standing alone with a stroller. He lifted a blanket and showed me the stroller’s contents—a delicate, two-month-old girl. “Her name is Valentina,” he said.
When I asked if his wife was with him, his eyes lowered. “No, man, she died in childbirth,” he said. “It’s just me and my baby girl.”
Stunned, I was at a loss for words. I put my hand on his shoulder and said, “I’m so sorry.” We talked and I prayed for him. He told me he was overwhelmed, but he promised to seek out support and return to church and to the Lord.
Now, four months later, he was back at Christ Tabernacle for this huge diaper and school supplies outreach. But this time José is beaming. Arms loaded with bundles of diapers and wipes, he tells me that he finally reached out for help and that his job is going better than ever. He saved the best news for last: “And, Father Matt, I went back to church!”
José was just one of about 300 people who showed up last Saturday, August 7, for a baby and school supply outreach led by Pastor Michael Wright and his amazing church family at Christ Tabernacle. It was our joy and privilege to partner with and serve Pastor Michael and the people of his community. They greeted guests, set up tables lined with backpacks and baby supplies, belted out live Gospel music from a stage, and much more. Ten hardworking volunteers from Church of the Resurrection, ages 10 to mid-60s, joined Pastor Michael’s team of volunteers.
After the event, Pastor Michael texted me: “THANK YOU SOOO MUCH [CHURCH OF THE RESURRECTION] FOR EVERYTHING YOU DO!! Mission accomplished. I surely appreciate Rez’s support.”
Church of the Resurrection has been partnering with Pastor Michael Wright and Christ Tabernacle Church since 2017. Here at Resurrection we have opened our warehouse to house and safely distribute baby supplies (such as diapers and wipes) to parents in need in partnership with longtime local partner, Caring Network. We continue to work with the Baby Bank at Christ Tabernacle Church. We welcome donations of diapers and wipes for expectant mothers and parents in need. Learn more here.
Photo by Gary Buell. Missions Manager Julia Damion, Fr. Matt Woodley, and Rez volunteers served alongside Christ Tabernacle’s Gospel Choir and Pastor Michael Wright’s church family on August 7.