In June of 1979, I became pastor of a small church in the inner city of Chicago. Twenty-five of us met on Sunday mornings in a leaky, crumbling, 75-year-old building. The weekly offerings averaged $300, from which we payed expenses and my full-time salary. We suffered none of the temptations of prosperity.
For my first year, that salary added up to $13,000, which, to put it mildly, cramped our lifestyle. We drove an old Malibu in which, when it rained, inches of water would collect on the floor. We lived in a second-floor apartment that was a drafty, uninsulated icebox in the winter and a sweltering oven in the summer.
Unnerving things happened all too often. One Sunday night my wife had to stay home from church with the kids. Just after the service ended she telephoned. "Brian, something's happened downstairs. Hurry home."
Minutes later I found police cars parked in front of our apartment. Blood was spattered over the stairs and porch. "I live upstairs," I told the officers at the doorway. ...1