If there were a modern, West Side of Chicago equivalent to Adam’s book of generations, which is found in Genesis, Chapter Five (“And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness,” named Seth who begat Enos who begat Cainan …), it would be that of George Bady — a 49-year-old ordained minister who lives in Austin.
“I had a little cousin who was killed in a robbery in 2008, then I had my own son get killed in 2010 because he was talking to someone who was into it with somebody else and the guys just came up and started shooting, and my nephew got killed in a robbery in 2012,” Bady said during a recent phone interview.
Bady, who everyone calls Jody, said that he had something of a revelation after his son, 20-year-old son, Jamar Moore, was murdered.
“I didn’t want no other parents to go through what I had been through,” said Bady, who for the last several years has carved out a presence on the West and South Sides of Chicago with his Jehovah Jireh #1 Outreach Ministry. The organization has become ubiquitous for its lively gatherings at street corners throughout the city.
Bady and his 25-member Red Team are known for their trademark red (which is the color of the t-shirts, baseball caps, jeans and zip-up fleece hoodies they sport while on assignment) and their motto, “Stop the Violence.”
Team members show up at the request of residents who just want to have fun, but more often they converge, uninvited, on erstwhile murder scenes. They’re also a constant presence in the minutes and hours immediately after crises, often visiting people in the hospital or praying for people on the streets.
“My day starts at 5 a.m.,” Bady said. “I get up, pray, get my son off to school and then my wife goes off to work. From then, I do everything I do in the streets. When my wife gets off at around 10 p.m., I drive Uber from then until around 3 a.m. That’s how I fund my ministry for the most part.”
On April 19, Bady held forth under a tent pitched in front of Corcoran Grocery, at the corner of Central Avenue and West Corcoran Place. Two weeks earlier, on April 7, Byron McKinney Jr., was gunned down as he walked out of Corcoran by shooters driving a van speeding south on Central.
McKinney had run several feet past where Bady pitched his tent before dropping on the sidewalk. He was pronounced dead at a suburban hospital a few hours later. Five other people, all bystanders, were also shot, but survived.
As Bady was setting up his sound system under the tent, a car pulled up onto the curb and a man stepped out.
“Excuse me, what’s this for?” the man asked, before Bady told him about his Stop the Violence campaign.
“Y’all in the wrong spot right here. This where they killed all them mother — ers at,” he said. “We done tried, man, but these young mother — ers. They outlaws, man. Glad y’all trying to do something.”
“I can’t give up on them,” Bady said, still occupied with setting up.
“No, we can’t. I like that,” the man said, before getting back into the car.
Bady and his Red Team have demonstrated at this corner each Wednesday since McKinney’s murder. McKinney’s mother, Charlene Redmond, had been among the demonstrators at both Wednesday demonstrations held during the two weeks following her son’s death.
At the April 19 demonstration, Redmond held up a sign that read, “Put the guns down,” as music blared from Bady’s sound system and Chris Burton, a minister and Jehovah Jireh’s vice president, emceed the demonstration, telling drivers to “honk for peace” and that “enough is enough.”
Burton said that he’s been with Jehovah Jireh #1 for three years and has been doing prison ministry for a decade.
“Me and Jody knew each other from back in the days, but we met on this front because I was on Laramie and Lake with 100 churches, 100 blocks and then I went down on Central and Jody kind of snatched me. We’ve been doing this ever since.”
Bady said that the 100 Blocks, 100 Churches program — an annual initiative sponsored by the 15th District police department that entailed churches gathering at high-crime intersections on Wednesdays during June and July — helped scale up his vision.
“I was on Madison and Central during the 100 churches on 100 blocks and things took off from there,” Bady said. “I had been doing things in the neighborhood on a smaller scale, like getting kids in the alley to play ball, but God said it’s bigger than this.”
“We come from these streets and we come from doing the same things these kids are out here doing now,” Burton said. “So, we know what it takes for them to get their life turned around. We know the heartbeat of this community. We lived what these kids are doing now, but we survived it. Now, we’re trying to show them how to survive.”