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New Pacific Garden Mission President Impacted by Moody to Go and Do

New Pacific Garden Mission President Impacted by Moody to Go and Do

  • April 20, 2014

During Moody’s Missions Conference in the late 1980s, Bible Theology major Philip Kwiatkowski remembers listening intently as Dr. Leonard Rascher, then director of the Practical Christian Ministries department, told students he had never prayed harder for a chapel message than the one he was about to give.

With eyes fixed on him, Dr. Rascher said, “Go and do it!”, then left the podium.

That charge made a lasting impression on Philip, who was eager to “go and do” missions on a foreign field after his graduation in 1989. God was calling him to a mission field closer to home, however. As a newly married student, he volunteered and then was hired in 1988 by Pacific Garden Mission (PGM), a large rescue mission in Chicago that ministers to the spiritual and daily needs of hundreds of homeless men, women, and children. After 25 years on staff with PGM, including the last 16 years as vice president of ministries, Philip was recently named its new president, the ninth in PGM’s 136 years.

Moody president Dr. Paul Nyquist addressed more than 400 guests at Philip’s installation service on September 10, 2013, concluding with words for Philip: “May God give you courage in these challenging days ahead. And may the partnership between Pacific Garden Mission and Moody Bible Institute continue to flourish as we seek to expand God’s Kingdom in this great city of Chicago.”

PGM has been linked to Moody Bible Institute for more than 125 years. D. L. Moody, in fact, suggested the name for the mission, founded in 1877. Since 1918, Moody has sent almost 2,500 students to serve at PGM through Practical Christian Ministry assignments. In the last six years alone, students have ministered to approximately 15,500 individuals at PGM.

Philip’s own salvation testimony has ties to Moody. He was a 20-year-old student at a state university and working at a blood bank on Chicago’s south side when he heard about a celebrity’s death. The news led to a conversation with a student from Moody, who told Philip about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Philip began attending church and soon trusted Christ for salvation. He was discipled by Pastor Robert Sheridan, current board member of PGM, who encouraged him to apply to Moody Bible Institute.

The academic and practical training Philip received at Moody was invaluable. “Moody really gave me a heart for people and for ministry,” he says. Following the advice of then president Dr. Sweeting, who told students to use the city of Chicago as a “laboratory” for ministry, Philip joined a group of students to “go out with Bible tracts and sandwiches and witness to people,” he recalls. The next year, he and another student went door to door sharing the gospel and doing Bible studies in Cabrini Green, a housing project a few blocks west of Moody’s Chicago campus.

Philip appreciates the professors who took time to get to know him and nurtured his faith. “Christianity was new to me,” he explains. “The impact from the professors was just tremendous.”

He also developed lifelong friendships with students. “I’m not exaggerating when I say Moody was the highlight of my life,” he says. Besides having “great theological discussions, and good, clean, honest fun” with other guys on campus, he met Ann (O’Malley, ’89), during spring break on a Moody mission trip to Florida. They married at the end of 1987. Soon after, Philip began his tenure with Pacific Garden Mission, where he quickly recognized his mission field.

“Men who were on the streets and addicted to drugs would come to Christ, and we as a staff would come alongside and disciple them,” he says. As Philip witnessed lives transformed, he thought, This is where I want to be.

Philip still applies the practical aspects of theology he learned at Moody to ministry at PGM. Their Bread of Life program, for example, sends PGM residents into Chicago’s housing projects to give bread to needy neighbors and share Christ. Some residents have even gone on to become students at Moody. “It’s always been a great relationship with Moody,” says Philip, who looks forward to continuing that relationship in the future.

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