Milwaukee woman's 'sign of hope' brings message to the streets

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- She's a Milwaukee minister with a message; showing lost souls the way to salvation -- and she's become a sign of hope in the city.

Marilyn Christian Parks is helping Good Hope Road on the city's northwest side. live up to its name.

"It's just joyful. It's just joyful. To feel this unity as people are driving up Good Hope Road," said Parks.

Parks recently retired after a quarter century in the public defender's office. Now, she's spending her days defending her faith. It all started with a desire to volunteer at her church. But fewer and fewer people were coming inside.

"The Lord was prompting me: Take it outside. Take it outside," said Parks.

Now, Parks is conducting a curbside ministry with a simple message, "Love Jesus." She said it's a sign from God.

"He gave me a sign. I'm using this sign and this sign is drawing people to him," said Parks.

That sign and Parks' smile may be the only slice of humanity some people experience on any given day.

"People have told me that. People have said, 'Nobody has waved to me today. Nobody has said hi to me, nobody has smiled.' Until you.," said Parks.

It is also a small miracle of Parks' ministry that people seeking help actually stop.

"I feel like it was the perfect time to stop. It was in front of a church. When I got here, she just talked to me. That was what I needed," said Tyree Smith.

Occasionally someone will drop off a gift or make a donation to the church.

""I've had one-dollar bills, five-dollar bills, ten-dollar bills, twenty-dollar bills now we're just waiting for that 500 dollar bill -- whooo!" said Parks.

Of course, there are those who say religion is personal and Parks should keep it out of their face.

"People have given me the finger. Particularly there's one woman who just looked like she was going to come through the car windshield -- every week she would get more aggressive, so that to me is kind of sad," said Parks.

But Parks gives those people a wave too -- as a cheerleader for the church.