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Education

Former Gang Member Now Being Equipped At Moody for Urban Ministry

01.08.2014

Student sees his major as the way to cross bridges to care for different kinds of people.

Violence on the streets of Chicago is on the rise, and 40 percent of homicides are because of gang activity. The city has more than 100,000 gang members, some as young as 13 years old. That was Tyjuan Gibson's story.

So how does God's light shine into such darkness? How did God deliver Tyjuan from gang life and lead him to Moody Bible Institute?

Tyjuan lived with his aunt and uncle in Cabrini Green, an infamous housing project just blocks from Moody Bible Institute's Chicago campus. His uncle, a strong role model, passed away when Tyjuan was just seven years old. When he died, so did Tyjuan's motivation and direction.

In elementary school and junior high, he followed his older brother and got involved with a street gang. The affirmation he felt was powerful. It wasn't until a rival gang beat him up one night and threatened his sister's life that he realized a change needed to happen.

As Tyjuan lay in bed panicked and bruised, a single sentence he'd heard in church as a child came to mind: "Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life."

The words rattled and beckoned him. Tyjuan cried out in prayer, "Jesus, if you really are who you say you are, please just show up!"

That prayer was answered during summer school after his freshman year of high school; the principal announced that students could get credits for going to an assembly. Thinking this would earn him easy credits, Tyjuan strolled into the auditorium ... right into a church service.

He sensed a change in atmosphere. When his friends left him, Tyjuan stayed. The pastor spoke on new beginnings, and Tyjuan thought, "Wow! I need one of those." He began meeting with the pastor for Bible study, and soon the Holy Spirit convicted his heart of the need of a Savior. Within a month he committed his life to Christ and was baptized.

A successful athlete in high school, Tyjuan was offered full-ride college football scholarships. But God had different plans and began pulling Tyjuan toward studying for pastoral ministry at Moody Bible Institute, where many of the leaders at his church had studied.

It was a difficult decision—football or ministry? So he told God, "If you want me to go to Moody, show me."

Shortly thereafter, he encountered two strangers, both Moody graduates, and was convinced he should train at Moody.

Now a junior in the new five-year B.A./M.A. Pastoral Ministry program at Moody, Tyjuan is grateful for professors who challenge him to live for God. Tyjuan sees his major as the way to cross bridges to care for different kinds of people. He has a heart for counseling and desires to be a caring pastor to the people in Chicago, especially his home neighborhoods. The new program will allow him to earn both degrees in just five years.

Tyjuan appreciates Moody's emphasis on both academics and practical ministry. During his time at Moody, Tyjuan has mentored individuals at a community service organization, worked with fatherless teens from Cabrini Green through a Christian youth ministry, and volunteered in the children's ministry at his home church.

A Moody spring break mission trip to the Philippines impacted him so deeply that he is also considering full-time missions to the Philippines in the future.

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