Purpose In The Midst Of Pain: Life-on-Life – Matt & J’meer

“Growing up, my grandmother knew what was going on in the community with all the violence and shootings and killings, so she really didn’t want me to go outside,” shares J’meer. Like many of our teens, J’meer lives on the west side in one of Chicago’s most violent neighborhoods, North Lawndale.

As J’meer grew older, his grandmother began to give him more freedom, so he started to attend SLAM—one of GRIP’s youth outreach connection points—where he met Matt, his GRIP mentor. Two years into their Life-on-Life relationship J’meer experienced the very violence his grandmother had tried to protect him from. One summer day in July 2016, J’meer stepped out on his front porch to walk to the corner store—a walk he had made many times. Suddenly he heard shots ring out and realized he was caught in the crossfire. Before J’meer knew what was happening he fell to the ground—he had been shot in the eye.

“In that moment, I just had to prepare to die,” J’meer remembers.

In the chaos, J’meer knew that if he were to die, he didn’t want to die with bitterness in his heart. In the ambulance with sirens wailing, and with maturity beyond his years, he prayed to forgive his shooter.

Matt shared with GRIP, “Instead of asking the question, [as a victim] ‘Why would God do this to me?’ J’meer thinks that God did this for a purpose and to make him a better person.”

J’meer said, “After this incident and growing in my faith, Matt has just been there to work with me. Of course I have a lot of questions, but I can always go to Matt, and he’s going to help me no matter what. I consider Matt to be family and family lasts forever.”

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