It's past 8 o'clock on a Wednesday night and Randy Gambony of Chicago's Emmaus Ministries hoists a sack full of paperback Bibles and free personal hygiene kits onto his shoulder.
For the next six hours, until 2 a.m., he and his Emmaus partner will cruise the city's mean streets and bars reaching out to male prostitutes. As he walks through the River North area, Gambony wears a name badge, T-shirt, and a baseball cap stamped with the Emmaus name and logo. His goal is to build relationships, meet a need, and—somewhere in the process—share his own story about how Jesus turned his life around.
Gambony was in prison when Emmaus was launched in 1990, the brainchild of John Green, who was attending Wheaton College when exposure to Chicago's inner city broke his heart. Green eventually relocated to New York, working with teenage runaways. But he could not forget Chicago's young male hustlers. He returned to Wheaton for graduate school and later started Emmaus.
Green says, "Some Christians tell me, 'Those guys on the street make choices.' But I say: They don't have the same choices as you and I. Many are school dropouts. They come from broken homes and are often homeless.
"The majority of them still consider themselves heterosexual, even though their tricks or clients are homosexual." Many are also drug abusers working to feed their addiction. "The drug habit keeps them hustling. It's a vicious cycle. Our goal is to make Jesus known to them and to give them a way out."
Emmaus methods are threefold: First, ministry teams make contact and build relationships with male hustlers. Next, a second team, also walking the streets, focuses on prayer. Third, a nearby drop-in center offers a meal, laundry facilities, showers, a clothes ...1