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Faith

Local 'Prodigal Son' returns home to help

Joliet pastor says, 'No one is born saved. We've all done something.'

Pictured is Steven D. Evans and his wife Alicia. Evans, a Joliet native, will be installed as a bishop on June 29. His church, Leap of Faith Ministries, will hold its first service at its new Joliet location on June 30.
Pictured is Steven D. Evans and his wife Alicia. Evans, a Joliet native, will be installed as a bishop on June 29. His church, Leap of Faith Ministries, will hold its first service at its new Joliet location on June 30.

Exactly one day after Steven D. Evans will be installed a bishop, his church will hold services at its new location.

Leap of Faith's new location will be at 1220 Richards St. in Joliet, across the street from the former Certified Foods, which may become an inpatient center for treating patients for substance abuse, according to a Dec. 22, 2018 Herald-News story.

For Evans, it's perfect.

"I see it as an opportunity for people to make it [Leap of Faith] a part of their recovery," Evans said. "I want people to know they can come across the street and worship with us and to realize that the pastor there, the bishop, is a man who has been exactly where they are.

"That's the focus on our ministry. No one is born saved. We've all done something. What I've done might be different from what someone else did."

Evans likens his younger years to Jesus' parable of the Prodigal Son. In that story, a son who misuses his inheritance after asking for it in advance, returns home humbled and ready to serve his loving father, who is already waiting for him.

"I grew up steeped in faith," Evans said. "We grew up in Second Baptist Church here in Joliet, the oldest African American Baptist church in the city. As a young man coming up, I sang with the choir and things like that. So church was always a part of our lives.

"But during my teens years, I made some bad decisions. I got into scrapes with the law and I was a drug addict for over 30 years. I was an alcoholic, as well. But God delivered me from that – it's been about 27 years now that I've been what they call 'clean and sober.'"

Evans calls himself "delivered" rather than "in recovery" because of how his recovery happened.

New life

At the time Evans was living in Texas, on probation but still using drugs every day, he said. In fact, Evans' "daily diet" consisted of two packs of cigarettes, a case of beet and a liter of brandy and a quarter ounce of cocaine, he added.

"I was killing myself," Evans said. "But my probation officer at the time, a Christian, mandated that I go into a therapeutic community."

The community was strict, Evans said, no cigarettes and plenty of vitamins. But Evans was able to get clean and stay clean from all substances, including cigarettes, he said.

"I have not used since. I'm not even tempted to use," Evans said. "Considering what my usage level was at the time, I'm, first of all, thankful that I did not kill myself, which was probably not far off. I'm never tempted. I never think about it.

"That's why I say I've been delivered. There are people out there in the world that need to know that if God did it to me, He can do it to them."

Evans began Leap of Faith church three years ago. Becoming a bishop was the result of meeting a man who invited him to host a Bible study for him, Evans said.

"I didn't know he was a bishop at that time," Evans said. "He said at the beginning of the year that God had given him a mandate to ordain to new bishops. He knew after talking to me that I was one of them. It was amazing.

"My words to him were, 'I'm deeply honored but not surprised.' Because God had been preparing me for such a thing for over 20 years."

Evans recalled a conversation he had with his wife Alicia (?) at the beginning of their relationship.

"I told my wife when we met 15, 16 years ago," Evans said. "I told her on a date, 'I'm going to be a pastor and God is going to elevate me. I don't know when. I don't know through whom. But I know He's going to elevate me once I become a pastor,"

"She is the love of my life, the backbone," Evans said. "She does things behind the scenes. The ministry would not flow as smoothly without her. She is a great help to me."

According to its Facebook page, Leap of Faith Ministries exists to "introduce and connect people with the living God."

Evans feels certain the new space will allow the church to expand programs for young people and to those who are hurting. Evans is simply thankful to serve

"I give God all the glory," Evans said. "It's one of my favorite sayings, 'To God be the glory.' My life is an open book. I want people to see what I used to be and see for themselves what we are today."

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Leap of Faith

WHEN: Sunday School is 9:30 a.m. Worship is 10:30 a.m.

WHERE: 1220 Richards St. Joliet

INFORMATION: Visit Leap of Faith Ministries on Facebook or

call 779- 456-5633.

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