Andre Taylor, a lifelong member of Roseland Christian Reformed Church in Chicago, was shot and killed in his front yard on evening of Sunday, March 13, just hours after worshiping at Roseland. He was 16.
“He was a good kid,” said Roseland pastor Joe Huizenga. “Three or four days a week he would be here [at the church], taking part in various music and youth activities.” He said Andre was a talented singer who wrote poetry and rap. He was a good student at Percy L. Julian High School, and a member of the school’s swimming team.
Huizenga said Andre was returning home after walking his girlfriend to the bus stop when a car pulled up and shots were fired. “I don’t know why,” said Huizenga. At this time no arrests have been made.
Andre lived with his grandmother, Betty Johnson, and his two brothers Donell,18, and Damon, 14. Their mother died in a car accident eight years ago and Betty, a 30-year member of Roseland CRC, has raised them since then.
Huizenga knows the family well, having boarded with them during his time as an intern from Trinity Christian College. He has been at Roseland for 16 years,
Huizenga spoke of the gun violence that plagues his city. “I’ve done eight funerals in the past seven years for young men who died of gun violence,” he said. “It feels like we are living in a land where potential never reaches what it is supposed to. It’s a feeling of utter powerlessness.” One of his deacons told of the monthly poetry night at the church. She said that every one of the kids’ poems is about death.
Huizenga said that the church members have been part of a lot of protests against gun violence, lobbying and advocating for common-sense gun laws, while at the same time trying to provide as many programs for youth as possible to give them opportunities.
In the meantime, he said, they gather at the church to cry together, to hold each other, and to hold on to the promises of God that down the road this will end towards more shalom and not more death.