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Based on eight years of hands-on experience and more than 300 interviews, Street Saints is both a book of motivational stories about unsung heroes and a sociological study of the “faith factor,” documenting faith-based programs that are treating social maladies in America. This book takes readers on a tour of communities and institutions in America where faith-based initiatives are making a difference. It offers inspiration, role models, and guidelines for people who would like to give back to their own communities.

Street Saints website at

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Foreword / xi

Ambassador and former U.S. Senator Daniel R. Coats

Acknowledgments / xvii

Introduction: Barbara J. Elliott / xix
A brief overview of this book’s tour through America’s cities

Part I. The People: Portraits of Street Saints

1. American Street Saints in Action / 3

Kirbyjon Caldwell: Windsor Village and the Power Center, / 3
Wall Street broker-turned-pastor sparks urban transformation that inspired George W. Bush (Houston, TX)
Freddie and Ninfa Garcia: Victory Fellowship of Texas, / 9
Former addicts help thirteen thousand leave drugs in Hispanic communities (San Antonio, TX)
Cordelia Taylor: Family House, / 15
Reclaiming a city block from drug dealers to create a haven of peace for the elderly poor (Milwaukee, WI)
Eugene Rivers: Ten Point Coalition, / 21
Turning gang members to God in the inner city (Boston, MA)

2. John Perkins: Raw Violence and Reconciliation / 24

The journey from rage to reconciliation and restoration of impoverished communities

3. Brian King: A Gangster Disciple / 40

A Chicago gang member and drug dealer turned apostle

Part II. The Programs: What Works and Why, as Street Saints Change Lives

4. Rescuing America’s At-Risk Kids / 55

Casa de Esperanza: / 57
Healing abused and abandoned children (Houston, TX)
Kids Hope USA, / 62
Pairs one mentor, one child, one church, one school (Holland, MI, 217 partnerships nationally)
Urban Ventures, / 69
Transforming at-risk youth and their entire neighborhood (Minneapolis, MN)
Cornerstone Schools, / 72
Raising the bar for academic performance in the inner city (Detroit, MI)
The Oaks Academy, / 76
Classical education with wraparound renewal (Indianapolis, IN)
Religion and At-Risk Youth, / 80
Research on the “faith factor”

5. Transforming Offenders and Victims / 83

InnerChange Freedom Initiative, / 85
Faith-saturated prison program reduces recidivism (TX, MN, IA, KS)
Bridges to Life, / 92
Face-to-face reconciliation between victims and inmates (seven prisons in TX)
No More Victims, / 99
Reaching out to angry youth left behind (Houston, X)
Amachi, / 102
Mentoring children of prisoners by mobilizing churches (Philadelphia, PA, replicating nationally)
Craine House, / 106
Keeping women prisoners and their babies together (Indianapolis, IN)

6. Faith, Health, and Holistic Change / 110

Holistic Welfare-to-Work, / 111
Provides more than a job
Transitional Living, / 112
New Hope Serving the Homeless
Open Door Mission (Houston, TX), / 112
Wheeler Mission Ministries (Indianapolis, IN), / 115
Interfaith Housing Coalition (Dallas, TX), / 116
Star of Hope (Houston, TX), / 117
Leaving Addiction: Teen Challenge, / 118
Breaking the cycle of drug addiction through faith intervention
Where Faith, Health, and Human Behavior Intersect, / 121
Scientific research on the effects of faith on healing

7. Social Entrepreneurs / 126

Pura Vida: Coffee with a Cause (Seattle, WA, and Costa Rica), / 128
Resources: Turning Immigrants into Entrepreneurs (Brooklyn, NY), / 132
Step 13: Putting Recovering Addicts and Alcoholics to Work (Denver, CO), / 137
Jobs Partnership: Mentoring into the workplace (Raleigh, NC, now replicated in twenty-seven cities), / 139
Brookwood Community: Micro-enterprises for the handicapped (Brookshire, TX), / 142

Part III. The Cities: A Vision as Big as the City—Street Saint Strategies

8. The Nehemiah Strategy / 149

Robert Woodson: National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise
Fostering renewal at the grassroots level (Washington, DC), / 156
Luis Cortes: Nueva Esperanza
Giving Latinos hope, homes, jobs, and education Philadelphia, PA), / 161

9. As Famous for God as Steel: Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation / 165

Reid Carpenter and John Stahl-Wert, / 165
Pittsburgh Youth Network, / 167
Pittsburgh Community Storehouse, / 168
East Liberty Family Health Care Center, / 170
City as Parish: Equipping the Church as a Body, / 170
Leadership Foundations of America, / 175

10. Savvy Saturation: Memphis Leadership Foundation / 179

Larry Lloyd and Howard Eddings, / 179
Urban Youth Initiative, / 181
Memphis Athletic Ministries, / 184
Christ Community Health Services, / 186
Neighborhood Housing Opportunities, / 188
Economic Opportunities, / 190
Mediation and Restitution/Reconciliation Services, / 192
Urban Plunge, / 193
Oasis of Hope, / 195
Streets, / 195
For the Kingdom Camp and Retreat Center, / 196
Multinational Ministries, / 197
Hope Christian Community Foundation, / 197
Questions to Ask Before You Give to a Faith-Based Organization, / 198

11. One by One Leadership: Equipping and Connecting in Fresno / 200

H. Spees and Kurt Madden, / 200
Genesis of a Movement: No Name Fellowship, / 201
Apartment Intervention: Care Fresno, / 202
Downwardly Mobile Relocation, / 203
Stewardship for the Soul of the City, / 204
Neighborhood-Based Community Development, / 205
Mentoring for Families and Youths, / 208
City Builders Roundtable, / 210
City as Parish, / 210
Pastors Clusters, / 212
Improving Achievement for Children, / 214
City Builders Campus, / 215
Family Leadership Connection, / 215
Lessons Learned, / 216
How One by One Works Citywide: Best Practices for Intermediaries, / 217
A Conversation with H. Spees, / 222

Part IV. The Big Picture: Faith at Work in America’s History: The Beliefs That Motivate Street Saints Today

12. The Roots of American Compassion 227

The Truth about Church and State, / 228
Faith and the Founders, / 231
A City on a Hill, / 232
The Fruits of Faith, / 235
Compact and Covenant, / 236
Conclusive Christian Convictions, / 236
What Alexis de Tocqueville Saw, / 238
Fostering America’s Soul, / 239
The Contemporary Conflict Zone, / 241
Americans Are “Bowling Alone,” / 242
Mall as Modern Temple, / 243
Seeking Secular Salvation, / 246
The Ambiguous Embrace of Government, / 248
What’s Needed Is a Change of Heart, / 252

Conclusion: A Kingdom of Vision / 255

The “Wounded Healer”: Henri Nouwen, / 255
The “Kingdom at Hand”: Dallas Willard, / 258
From the UN to the Inner City, / 259
Why the Seepage after Sunday? / 260
Lacking Discipleship, / 261
The Crucial Intersection, / 262
Faith Is the Root, Love Is the Fruit, / 263
The Tao: C.S. Lewis, / 265
The Social Justice Tradition, / 267
The Evangelical Tradition, / 269
The Contemplative Tradition: Mother Teresa, / 270
It’s about Our Hearts, / 275
How Do You Hear a Call? / 277
What to Expect If You Go, / 278

Appendix / 283

Notes / 291

Bibliography / 307

Index / 311

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