Sidewalk Sunday School started with a dream that God had given Pastor Louie when he was 19 years old. A dream that he would take a mobile puppet ministry out into streets and preach the gospel to children in the same types of neighborhoods that he grew up in. Years passed and he faithfully served in Colorado serving as a Children’s Pastor, until God clearly spoke to him to pack up and move back to his hometown and start a ministry to reach his people. Pastor Louie and his wife, Tricia, packed a U-haul truck and were Chicago bound. They didn’t know how it would it all come together; all they had were a few thousand dollars and a dream. He knew that ministering to children was what really burned in his heart, but not knowing the big picture – they started to hold church services in their two bedroom apartment.
On July 12th, 1997 they started the Sidewalk Sunday School out in the streets with a cubed truck and a passion to minister. After weeks of visiting the neighborhoods and inviting children, 30 children attended the first site! As they continued every Saturday, it was amazing how fast it continued to grow. The children were open and hungry for what he had to say. There was finally "HOPE in the HOOD" as the children said!
However, the ministry took a drastic turn in its third year, as the children of Sidewalk Sunday School wanted to attend services with the adult church congregation. Pastor Louie soon found out that bringing in children from the ghetto ran "the church" out of the church! It began to go downhill for Pastor Louie and his wife. Most of the adults left the ministry, the finances decreased, and turmoil set in...yet the children would not stop calling for the bus to pick them up to bring them to church.
When the adults left , Pastor Louie and Tricia stopped taking paychecks from the ministry in order to keep the program afloat. Because of their sacrifice, they lost their home to foreclosure and their vehicles to repossession. Pastor Louie had two choices: either shut the ministry down and turn down thousands of kids from recieving hope and hearing the Gospel, or move his family into the basement of the church building and try to survive. Everyone told them to shut the ministry down...however, Pastor Bill Wilson, the founder of Metro Ministries in New York, told Pastor Louie one thing, “DON’T QUIT!” That was enough to keep Pastor Louie going.
After a few months of living in the basement, Pastor Louie knew that something had to be done or they were not going to make it. That’s how the first Sidewalk Sunday School video came about. This video was sent to every church they knew, begging them to have Pastor Louie come out and speak to share the mission of the children. Pastor Louie began travelling every week to different churches to raise support as an American Missionary.
After five years of living in the basement, with the hurt, the struggles, and the sacrifice, things began to turn around. God began to shine the light on what Pastor Louie and Trish were trying to do and sent people their way to help them continue the work of reaching children.
Today, Sidewalk Sunday School is a vibrant, strong and life-changing outreach serving children in over 11 different cities and at-risk communities. The Program has grown to reach a child holistically a point that child in the direction of success and leadership! Now the vision is becoming complete, as we have young adults that grew up on the tarp of Sidewalk Sunday School that are now serving on staff and as interns reaching out into the same communities that they were reached in!