People to Know: Pastor Jon Kelly

For some time, the city name “Chicago” has been associated with gun violence and crime. Before the recent news reports of gun violence in African-American communities, Chicago was home to famed mobsters who terrorized the city. With the dramatic stories that come out of the city, it’s easy to forget there are real people there quietly working for righteousness. Like Pastor Jon Kelly of Chicago West Bible Church.

You should get to know Pastor Jon’s ministry. Here’s his bio from the church’s website:

Pastor Jon was born in Chicago and raised in Philadelphia Pa. Growing up, he spent most of his teens in and out of juvenile detention centers and tried not to get killed in the streets. At the age of 19 he found himself in prison for his role in a shooting that left a young man dead. It was in his prison cell that he received a copy of God’s Word and began reading. After reading from Matthew to Hebrews, Jon’s eyes were opened. He was immediately gripped by his sin and his need for salvation in Christ. He gave his life to Christ in his prison cell.

Expecting to spend the rest of his life in prison, Jon was shown mercy and received a 6-20 year sentence. After serving 6 years, Jon was released and began attending Christian Stronghold Baptist Church in West Philadelphia. It was there that he met his wife and best friend, Danielle, while serving in youth ministry. In 2011 Jon moved to Chicago to attend Moody Bible Institute where he studied Systematic Theology. He served as a Family Pastor at Harvest Bible Chapel in downtown Chicago prior to becoming the Lead Pastor of Chicago West Bible Church. Currently, Pastor Jon is earning his Masters Degree in Biblical Studies at Wheaton Grad School. He also serves with Prison Fellowship in the role of Justice Advocacy and speaks nationally for their Speakers Bureau. He loves spending time with his wife Danielle and his two sons, Benjamin and Judah.

We first met Pastor Jon at a GC2 mass incarceration summit sponsored by Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. Here’s his testimony and exhortation at the summit:

In his work with Prison Fellowship, Jon brings personal insight to the difficult issue of helping returning citizens get a second chance in society. You can find some of his short writings here. Here’s Kelly addressing “God’s Love for the Prisoner” in celebration of Prison Fellowship’s “Second Chance Month“:

Here’s a Washington Times article featuring Kelly’s work on the streets of Chicago.

We’re grateful for our brother’s gospel labors and his leveraging of his own past to serve others in need. We thought you should know and pray for Pastor Jon’s labors for Christ.

Thabiti Anyabwile
Thabiti Anyabwile serves as a pastor of Anacostia River Church (Washington DC). He is the happy husband of Kristie and the adoring father of two daughters and one son. Holler at him on Twitter: @ThabitiAnyabwil

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