Man’s ‘hard journey’ calls him from retirement

KG Wilson with granddaughter Chrissy.

His ministry creates a safe haven for troubled youth, grieving parents

From the first time he entered a church, KG Wilson knew he wanted to be a pastor. “I knew that was my calling, even as a child.” Little did he know his ministry would not be in a church building but instead on the streets.

Hope Ministry is an organization Wilson started in 1991 in Chicago. It focuses on saving lives, helping grieving parents, and restoring peace in the community.

“You are the ugliest kid I have ever seen in my life. I see why your mom did not want you!” Those were some of the first “truths” spoken to KG Wilson by his foster mother. He believed that “truth” for a very long time, until later in life he found out that “truth” was a lie.

Raised in a foster home for as long as he can remember, as far back as the age of five, Wilson finds some memories still too traumatic to recall. There are some roads he refuses to travel when it comes to his memories.

“It’s too graphic,” he explains. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

Between the ages of five and nine Wilson vividly remembers being teased. He was known as the boy with no father and mother. “My father was killed when I was a baby,” he says. “I have never even seen a picture of him.” His mother was a drug addict, and he does not remember ever really staying with her.

Those times were very hard because most of the kids around him at least had a mother, and the constant reminder that he had neither mother nor father was very hard for him growing up. During his early years he was a victim of sexual, physical and mental abuse. He still struggles with memories of being tied to a pole and being beaten.

Throughout those tough years he does recall one positive moment. He remembers the first time his foster mom took him to church and the feeling of awe he experienced there. After the church service was over, he ran up to the pastor, got down on the floor, and held on to the pastors legs. He did not want to let go. He knew in that moment that was his safe place.

Staying with that pastor would change his life. He remembers thinking “at that moment I knew I wanted to be a pastor.” Wilson quickly came down from his fantasy high when he could feel people trying to pull him off the pastor. He remembers the pastor asking, “What’s wrong with him?”

“I heard him, but I could not speak,” explains Wilson. “I could not tell him what I had been going through.” His foster mom heard him, though. And she quickly said, “They all act like that.” Just like that Wilson’s fantasy was interrupted, and he had to go back to his foster home.

Those early experiences in foster homes influenced his decisions later in life. Some of those decisions led him to join a major gang in Chicago. After years of those wrong turns, Wilson now uses his experiences and knowledge to help many young people facing similar difficulties.

He describes his ministry as 12 long years. It required him to be present even at homicide scenes. He is the person comforting grieving parents who have lost their children to senseless gang violence. One of the reasons the Chicago native has not left Minneapolis is due to this very issue.

Wilson speaks of the death of 14-year-old Chavez Jones, who was killed instantly while standing in front of a house during a gang crossfire in 2007. He recalls the moment he watched the story develop on the news. “I instantly started crying. I could not stop crying.”

He went to hold a vigil and captured it in a documentary for Chavez Jones. After her funeral, he met with her father and partnered with the Chavez Jones foundation.

Most of his ministry with youth involves actively trying to get them off the streets. He speaks to gang members on a daily basis trying to encourage them with other positive outlets.

He admits he is not always successful, and some of the young men don’t always listen. However, when there is a problem with those same individuals, Wilson is there to try and remedy the situation.

“This year I retired,” he says. “I was done. My body and mind was done, but my heart kept telling me that there were more people to help.”

Asked why he retired, Wilson said that it had been a hard journey. “I have been stabbed and threatened just out of my efforts to help people. These are the things that you don’t see on the news. There is a real danger out there when someone is trying to help.”

Not only was Wilson’s heart contradicting his body — so was the community. “So many people came out pleading with me to come out of retirement.” That’s when he knew there was still more work to be done.

“We have to save our community,” he says. In many efforts to successfully attain this agenda, he currently works with the police. Due to his efforts with the police and the community, Wilson recently received the Chief Award of Merit from the chief of police.

“I want to continue the journey of raising our children to become police, so that they can police their own community.”

Wilson describes himself as a man “who protects against bullies.” He credits his journey in life to God. Even though the work has been tough, his feet are still hitting the ground.

Along with his Hope Ministry, he says he also partners with the Breaking Free organization to reach those involved in prostitution. Wilson, who came out of retirement this year, presently has no idea when he might retire again.


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