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  • Writer's pictureKrista Bontrager

Rebuilding After Being Cancelled by BLM

Back in 2020, the Riesco family had their business burned down in the BLM riots in Chicago. Even though they had been long-time advocates in the community, they were cancelled virtually overnight for saying "all black lives matter." We talked to brother Juan about his family's experience and how they, by God's grace, "uncancelled" themselves. We discussed what they learned and how they are ministering today in their community. Sometimes, standing up for the Gospel will cost us. Guest: Juan Riesco, from Nini’s Deli



 

Discussion with Juan Riesco


Juan Riesco is a committed follower of Jesus from the city of Chicago. He currently serves as the Director at Love Life Ministries. As a young adult, Juan lived a gay lifestyle, but then was radically saved after his brother (a former gang member!) began sharing the Gospel with him. In the mid-2000s, Juan's family opened a Cuban-inspired restaurant called Nini's Deli. The restaurant received rave reviews and was a bright spot in the community, until everything changed in the summer of 2020.


Juan's father was raised in Communist Cuba and was a refugee to the US. His father taught him about the evils of Communism; therefore, when the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement erupted in Chicago, Juan knew it had the same flavors as Communism. As businesses around him began promoting the "black square" on social media and publicly posting about their monetary donations to BLM, Juan knew that as a Christian, he could not support the movement.


Juan realized he was at a crossroads where God was asking him to choose...either serve Him fully with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength or continue with the business. In other words, bow down to Black Lives Matter and keep the business or stand for Christ and lose it all.


When Nini's Deli posted their stance on social media that, as Christians, they believe that all lives matter, the backlash escalated quickly. Protests occurred outside the restaurant, online reviews went from 5-star to 1-star, and Juan and his family faced hateful comments and threats. By the second day of protests, Juan and his family had to flee with police escorts due to death threats and personal information (addresses, bank accounts) being compromised. Juan, his brother and their wives, children, and unborn babies relocated to Texas for a year and planted a church. The family returned to Chicago in 2021 and re-opened the business, but the mob would still not relent. After another year of operating the business, Nini's Deli closed permanently in 2022. God then led Juan to a new job as Director at Love Life Ministries, where he currently participates in street evangelism outside of abortion clinics and advocates for the preborn.


Q: What made you stand strong in the midst of chaos? You didn't change your stance and apologize or acquiesce to the mob...why not?

A: When the protestors first came, we doubled down. They came to protest and we came out to preach. We got out a microphone and speaker and shared the Gospel with the mob!


Q: What advice would you share with someone who is afraid to stand publicly or is afraid to share the Gospel?

A: We can be encouraged when we are persecuted for the cause of Christ because the Bible is totally on our side! We are following in the footsteps of the first Apostles and this is what Jesus said would happen as His followers.

Matthew 5:11-12: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Phil 1:29: "For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him..."


Q: What have you learned from this experience?

A: When BLM comes to your door, go harder!

For example, if we could do it over, instead of nuancing our social media post, we would just be straight: Repent or perish!


The team recommends these resources:


Documentary of Juan's story:

Paint the Wall Black: https://youtu.be/4OJIucA3zsc



Connect with the Guest


Be sure to stay connected with Juan's Pro-Life work at Love Life Ministries:


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