Surprises on a Prayer Walk through Wheaton

Fr. Kevin’s introduction: In a recent sermon on Place—settling down and seeking the peace, I invited people to take a prayer walk near their home or in their workplace to see what God brought to their notice. Alice Teisan took up that invitation and writes about her experience:


On September 23, I took a prayer walk from my house to The Compass Church. As I set out, I was struck by how on my block we have me, living below the poverty line, then blue-collar workers in the two houses next to me. Two of us own the cheapest houses you can buy in Wheaton, and the guy in the middle rents. Neither of my neighbors has interest in faith. 

Just west is an apartment complex where social gentrification happened last year: a developer from Skokie took over the apartments and raised the rent from $800 per month to $1300. The developer would redo an apartment, then tell residents they had to move into the refinished apartment or leave when it was time for theirs to be redone. In this complex live individuals from the Bhutan people group, with a father and son who are translating the Bible into their language.

The apartment complexes between Blanchard and Stoddard remind me that some of the loneliest, unreached people dwell in apartment complexes. Rents here range from lower than $1300 per month and up. I think, How can those starting out afford such rent?and How are they making it without being overburdened by stress?

Then I reach Wheaton College housing, where some of the richest children, with representation from all over the USA and throughout the world, live. On to the “International Village” complex at President and College where people from many countries, speaking many languages, live. They walk past my house to Glen Ellyn Evangelical Covenant Church, where in the summer they have garden plots, then proudly carry their yield home. 

On the south side of College Avenue is a laundromat, where the homeless hang out because they can wash up in the sink while doing laundry. Behind that is the third-busiest train station on the Union Pacific-West line, where people of all walks of life pass each day. From the city some come to panhandle on Wheaton College’s campus. 

West of President is Bethany Chapel, a small church that owns a multi-unit apartment complex where they rent and let people stay for free. In that complex live a couple from Haiti, with the goal of producing Bible resources translated into Creole for pastors. Then on to Wheaton College, where people come from all over the world to study at this top-notch Christian College.

Heading north on Chase, the landlords rent rooms to people like one woman I know, who would be in a mental institution, if some still existed, for substance abuse and mental health issues. On the east side of Chase are townhomes, owned by Missionary Furlough Homes, where missionaries can live, paying subsidized rents. Then a big, beautiful house, which represents the mid- to higher-end homes in Wheaton. On Roosevelt sit businesses, just before I arrive at The Compass Church.

In this small, mile-and-a-half circumference, live people from every socio-economic class--from refugees, immigrants, international students, the downtrodden, and ex-offenders, to students from every socio-economic class of families, to the CEOs of companies.

Indeed the Lord has the whole world in his hands, and the entire world is represented between my house and The Compass Church. I asked my dad in March, “Do you think I should move back to Detroit?” 

He said, “Alice, Detroit doesn’t have anything for you. Your ministry exists because of where God has placed you in Wheaton.” 

All I can do is thank the Lord that I have the privilege to live in Wheaton, where my love for the world, the marginalized, the educated, and the extremes of diversification are only a few steps away.