BY LESLY JEAN-PAUL
The American criminal Justice system is not compassionate. It does not usually give second chances, especially to Black men.
Pastor Jody Bady of Jehovah Jireh #1 Outreach Ministry was facing charges that held up to a 60-year prison sentence for his alleged role in criminal drug activities as a member of the Westside’s 4Corner Hustlers Gang.
The charges were the wake-up call Pastor Jody needed to rethink his life. He knew that he had to do something more with his time on earth.
It might sound cliché, but before his case went to trial, Pastor Jody began to turn away from the streets and toward God. He started down a new path, dedicating himself to improving the lives of his neighbors, his people.
Prosecutorial overreach and an empathic judge saw that the case against Pastor Jody dismissed. No prison. No record. A potential 60-year nightmare was erased.
The streets took his cousin, son and nephew – all victims of gang violence – but he knew he couldn’t leave. The streets were a part of him, and he was a part of the streets. When he returned after his case was dismissed, it wasn’t in the same role that saw him featured on an episode of Gangland (Hustle Season 5, Episode 5), it was to spread the word every Wednesday for “100 Churches on 100 Blocks.”
As his following began to grow, Pastor Jody wanted to turn his preaching into action and help supply his community with the tools necessary to improve themselves.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Pastor Jody pivoted his efforts to focus on the immediate needs of his community and started a mobile food panty that served up to 1500 people per week. A global pandemic hits differently in areas of disinvestment, and Pastor Jody saw needs that typically would be considered part of the struggle to manifest themselves into critical issues. The need for everyday essentials became a literal life-and-death situation.
They started delivering meals to the homeless, and providing them with blankets, hats and scarfs. They opened a brick-and-mortar pantry to allow people an hour to warm up, eat a hot meal.
Through “On Your Way Blessings” donations from members of the community, Pastor Jody was able to provide coats for kids during their meal deliveries – a targeted way to get items of need in the hands of those who needed them the most.
His boots on the ground approach has provided Pastor Jody with more access to the community and first-hand knowledge of the community’s needs.
For Pastor Jody, he sees a future with an expansion of services that takes a wholistic approach to community building.
Pastor Jody wants to create a synergy of love.
He will tell you that God supplied him with a light. It started with a judge in a Chicago courtroom allowing him to have a second chance at life. He’s taken that light back to the streets as a champion of the people.