By Leilani Corpus
Published March 1, 1989
OAKLAND, CA (FR) – Plitner Avenue in the inner city area of Oakland, California, was one of the hottest crime and drug spots in the city. After years of being harassed and burglarized by drug dealers, and ignored by politicians, some landlords wrote a letter to Pastor David Kiteley of Shiloh Christian Fellowship – asking him to help clean up the neighborhood. Kiteley responded by opening up his church building to hold a meeting for local law enforcement officials.
He and his church members didn’t realize that just five blocks away was one of the most dangerous, drug infested areas in the city. “It put our church in a whole different arena,” said Kiteley. “We’ve heard a lot about reforming and rebuilding the city, but now we are putting it into action. It’s no longer rhetoric.” This led to the first massive “block party” and a March for Righteousness down Plitner Avenue.
Since the march in 1985, Plitner hasn’t been a problem, and Kiteley has spearheaded a massive neighborhood community movement which has been effective in reducing crime and drug use. Police say that 6,000 were arrested on drug charges in Oakland in 1987, and estimated that 7,000 were arrested in 1988.
“Now we don’t even think about Plitner,” said Lt. Fred Peoples of the Oakland Police Department. “We’ve cleaned up the area and have moved into other areas. The only thing we heard about Plitner was a shoot-out two years ago,” he explained. “That was because after we had the march, the dealer moved away and then decided to come back. We haven’t heard anything from there since then.”
Lt. Peoples added that Shiloh Chrisitian Fellowship is the best thing that has happened to the Oakland Police Department. “They have been the impetus behind this movement,” he said. After the 1987 march, a Berkeley police officer told a daily reporter, “I don’t feel elected officials are going to solve the drug problem. I’m convinced that to solve the problem what we need is a higher moral attitude. If my son was doing drugs, I’d want the police to arrest him.”
The Oakland Block Party Council, which is directed by Kiteley, holds monthly block parties and annual marches through high crime and drug areas. The block parties against drugs are massive neighborhood celebrations where residents get in touch with local resources for legal problems, health matters, or food and clothing needs.
Dubbed the Neighborhood Corps during the last half of the 1980s, the Neighborhood Community Block Party manual notes that churches have a basic orientation to reach out and help those that are around them: “In generation after generation church assistance and values have been the foundation of neighborhoods and communities. We believe in a Christian foundation, and the churches of Oakland stand ready to serve their neighborhoods and help coordinate the resources necessary to meet the needs of the people.”
The block parties are organized to encourage residents to interact with each other as well as to provide agencies, community organizations, and churches an outlet for meeting practical needs. “This means that we will not just concentrate only on housing or only on jobs, but we will endeavor to see that the total person is bettered and helped. This therefore means that every agency or organization has a piece of the pie.”
The block party movement has been notably successful. In 1988, a car was firebombed by a drug dealer on Apricot Street – but the car was owned by a block party captain. Lt. Peoples commented that the dealer was driven out of the neighborhood and “they don’t mess with her anymore.” On 67th Avenue, an effective home alert group has literally driven the drug dealers out of the area. Kiteley added that when giving seminars on dealing with drug pushers in the neighborhood, their theme has been “Just Say Go!”
Last year the group broke new ground in holding its first community health fair, which drew 2500 participants. “We had doctors, nurses, and mobile units out there volunteering their time. We also prayed for the sick,” said Kiteley. Held at Fremont High School, the fair offered a gamut of services from free blood pressure checks, AIDs prevention information, to items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, and diapers.
Besides fueling the vision for reformation of the city for Shiloh’s members, the block party movement has also brought unprecedented unity to Oakland churches. Kiteley said his family is also very involved: “My children cook hot dogs and give away food and clothing along with me.”
The three-year-old organization has received accolades and honors from city and state government officials. Kiteley, a pastor for 21 years who has traveled to 30 different nations, has gained the respect of the mayor’s office and city council for his persistence and diligence in bringing the gospel to areas where drugs, immorality, murder and poverty have attempted to rule the city.
Gov. George Deukmejian’s Office of Criminal Justice Planning honored the church for its outstanding crime prevention efforts. Shiloh was also recognized in 1988 by the California State Legislature for its “commitment and dedication to improving the quality of life for citizens in Oakland, California.” In 1988, Kiteley was honored by the National Crime Prevention Council.
His advice is sought by city officials and community organization leaders on how to best spend public funds on crime prevention efforts. In fact, Kiteley and his church have ventured into several areas usually left to government welfare agencies, and have experienced considerable effectiveness in addressing problems that local politicians and law enforcement officials could not solve. With the assistance of churches and mobilized citizenry, there has been a significant decrease in crime and drug traffic.
Shiloh Christian Fellowship appears to be on the cutting edge of a major trend for churches in the 1990s. They are also experiencing the reality of the words of Jesus Christ when He said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your father who is in heaven.”
Forerunner - Home » The Forerunner Newspaper » Reformation
Your comments are welcome!
Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.
All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?
These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.
$12.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Special Two-Disc Set!
After 40 years of intense study and world-wide ministry, Dr. Francis Schaeffer completed his crowning work of scholarship – to present profound truths in simple film language. Dr. Schaeffer’s brilliant analysis of the past and predictions for current trends have proven so uncannily accurate that this amazing series still feels contemporary almost three decades after its initial release. Ultimately, Schaeffer concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s Biblical absolute, the truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures.
Available for the first time on DVD, this documentary spectacular also includes intimate in-depth conversations with Francis and Edith Schaeffer. With the on-disc study guide, this presentation forms a unique course of comprehensive study. While this series forms an innovative analysis of the past, this outstanding work is more than history. Each episode focuses on a significant era, yet speaks clearly to 21st-century man with answers for modern problems.
$49.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
“Give me liberty or give me death!”
Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.
The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).
Welcome to the Second American Revolution!
This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.
$14.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Exposing The Occult Roots of Abortion
This presentation looks at the spiritual roots of abortion and exposes the myths surrounding child killing. Little known historical facts about abortion and how they relate to modern feminism are presented logically and accurately. Has been effective in converting many to a pro-life position.
Massacre of Innocence goes where no pro-life presentation has gone before in “tearing the lid off abortion” to reveal the spiritual realities we must battle if we will bring an end to this crime. The presentation is absorbing, fast-paced, informative and incredibly devastating to any attempt to justify abortion.
“… an extraordinary statement … a powerfully articulate presentation about what abortion really means, and why a great and moral nation like the United States must not allow the slaughter to continue.”
— Congressman Robert K. Dornan
Running time: 85 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Exposes the Dangers of Abortion to Women!
These shocking eyewitness accounts expose the dangers of abortion not only to unborn children, but to the health and lives women as well. An antidote to the smokescreens of the liberal media, these short clips show what really happens in and around abortion clinics.
Although the content is emotionally gut-wrenching, these videos have been used in church seminars and small groups to educate Christians on the abortion issue and to lead people toward a pro-life position. Contains 2 hours and 40 minutes of materials that can be shown separately.
Watch these pro-life videos on-line.
“These videos helped change my mind from pro-choice to pro-life. Your videos are what did it for me. I will be walking in next year’s March For Life in San Francisco.” — A. Jackson, California
“I was going to have an abortion until I saw your video. Praise Jesus!”
— M. Drew, YouTube Commenter
$4.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)