Detroit: One Year Later
We have now been in our Detroit partnership for one year. We took our first trip in August of 2014. Since then we have taken two other trips to help various church plants and ministries. The first time I went I was shocked and overwhelmed. This continued for me and the people that joined me on these trips. The utter despair of the city, disorganization of the government, the violence, the drugs, and the gangs left me with little hope; however, I joined in praying for the city along with many other Southern Baptists across the country. We have been lifting up the city, the church planters, and the violence.
One year later the tide is beginning to turn. There is still much to do, there are still many problems, but there is a different energy in the government, in the church planters, and even in the city. The last trip we went on was in Dearborn, working with Redeemer Community Church (a new church plant that is officially launching Easter 2016). Dearborn is a much different area than the rest of Detroit. It is fairing rather well in spite of the city’s woes. It is the headquarters of Ford Motor Company and home to the Henry Ford estate. There is hope in the eyes of the people of Dearborn. There is also a huge ethnic population there, people coming from all over the world, which gives the church planters there unique challenges. Redeemer Community Church is a great church led by a spirit-filled pastor, Jeremy Roth. Their church is poised to make a great impact in the city.
Another reason I feel positive about the city is the partnership that NAMB and the Great Detroit Baptist Association have had with the city. NAMB has been given an abandoned school to use. The disaster relief folks have transformed it into a place for groups to stay. They have bunk rooms, showers, and a full kitchen facility. This is very exciting because often the hardest part of a mission trip is working out these logistics. GDBA has also forged a partnership with the local government. They are starting a program that will bring mission teams in to help board up houses, identify unsafe houses, clean up trash, mow yards, and do general cleaning of the neighborhoods. This program will have a profound effect on the morale of the residents. This will help engender neighborhood pride and safety. I was able to attend a meeting at the GDBA office along with several community officials, council persons, police representatives, etc. They were all on board to provide whatever services and resources they could to help this program. All the GDBA needs now is mission teams to help.
All of these things have given me a much more positive outlook. We still need to pray and lift up the city and the church planters. We also need to join in with helping hands. I am hoping to take three trips to Detroit in 2016. Please consider going! They are not expensive and will make a huge impact. We will be announcing our dates on Missions Sunday on December 6th. Make sure to attend our special evening service at 5:30 p.m. with special guest speakers. There will be a reception to follow. Feel free to contact me with any questions about trips in 2016.