What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:14-17 ESV)
Detroit has gone bankrupt. Not a surprise to those of us that live here in the 313, but to those elsewhere in the country it has made headlines. In the last few days I have been bombarded with questions from friends who don’t live here: “how has this affected you guys?” “Is it safe there?” “How did this happen?” “What next?” “Who’s to blame?”
Here is my response…
Detroit is a mess.
From the politicians to the police, from east to west, from downtown to Brightmoore. 16-20% unemployment and 30-50% in the hood. Poverty is at an all time high, schools are closing down, highest worked police force who are underpaid & undermanned. Hospitals are dismal, jails are full, prisons are over crowded, missions are closed, soup kitchens are underfunded, and for most days Detroit looks like a ghost town. Schools are horrible, Detroit kids have a higher chance of going to prison than graduating. There are so many closed up churches here in Detroit it looks like a church cemetery. Just this week, there was a gang shoot out in my front yard, my neighbor was assaulted and his car was stolen, two houses on my block were firebombed, and because of the City having no money the two seperate corner street lights (4 way intersections) have been out for 3 weeks.
Here’s what the news won’t tell you…if you call the police, it’s a minimum of 45 minutes in most areas because of the lack of police city wide. Yes, people are leaving the inner city in groves, but what you won’t hear about is the masses of poor that are stuck and cannot leave. These people are 20+miles away from the nearest Walmart. The corner liquor store is the grocery. Strip clubs, bars, sex abuse, prostitution, narcotics, gangs, violence, senseless killings, corrupt city leaders, Police run sex slavery rings, mass hunger, and more homeless than Salvation Army has beds.
There is hope.
While all of this seems depressing, for those of who call Detroit home this is normal. We are a strong people and Detroit is tough. Most members at City Church barely make it pay check to pay check, or are unemployed and on food stamps. We have a large contingency of Detroit peeps who are recovering from drug &/or alcohol use. We desire to make a difference so City Church is on pace to give away 10,000 meals this year. This past Christmas we helped over 250 households with a full load of groceries and gave away 500 presents to kids in the inner city. Hope Centers are only months away funded by KLove Radio and World Hope (proud to say we are spear heading this with them). On top of what we are doing, here are two guys (I could give more) that are some great works going on here…Jerel Paul is changing Detroit one life at a time with his church (Pavilion Towers) on Warren & Southfield Hwy and training up young guys to help more churches here in Detroit. Mike Hanafee (my Acts29 brother) has started Restore Church (Joy & Linwood) the they are reaching people, helping people and making a difference in their community. The list goes on and on of those who have not left and are still doing much for the kingdom.
There is Nobody Greater than Jesus!
What Detroit needs more than anything, or anyone, is a revival of Jesus lovers. There are many Christians in this wonderful but dying city, and we need an awakening. Just this week, Bill O’Reilly said, “Detroit is dead, its never coming back.” While he may be true to the fact that things will never be like they once were, the time is ripe for the gospel. People are searching for answers, and the people here know where not to look. The Detroit people are tired of politicians, tired of phony preachers in suits, tired of the lies from its leaders and are praying. We need to show them who to pray to!
What can I do?
I have gotten this question a lot lately and am grateful for the offered help. Here are some ways you can help Detroit, local ministries like ours, and those that need it most.
- First, you can Pray. I know this is a cliche, but seriously…we need prayer. Most of us that are here in Detroit, don’t tell alot of the dark stories because we don’t want to glamorize violence and infer ourselves in anyway as heroes or somebody’s. The truth is that most guys that are here in Detroit, are suffering, not making any money, have left friends and family over it, and have gotten depressed over the lack of support from others (myself included). We need you to pray for our city, our city leaders, business to start up, people to find careers and not just jobs, the police and our ministries.
- Second, you can give. Currently, my family lives on just under $600 a month support from outside churches and make about $500-750 monthly from City Church. God has blessed, things are the best they have been financially for us in 5 years and we are not complaining. I work some side jobs a few days a month when I have to and we work very hard to live modestly. We give, adopted Troy into our family, support several teens and adults, open our home up to feed neighbors and peeps on a weekly basis. We could do more, if we had the help. This is not a beggar begging, but someone who has made quite a bit of money and now lives very modestly so that we can help others. I’m not asking you to do what I am not already doing. You could help by helping give towards our Recovery ministries: $20 a month helps us buy 5 Recovery books to give away. $20 a month helps us feed a family of 3 with groceries, and $20 helps us keep the lights on for our church who ministers to those that need it most. There are countless ministries here in Detroit that could use your help as well: therevivalofdetroit.com www.drmm.org www.salvationarmyusa.org/
- Thirdly, come visit Detroit! We have had groups of pastors, church members and regular peeps come up for a few days and just volunteer to help. Next week we will have a group up from Florida, they will help mow lawns of abandoned houses, clean-up neighborhoods, give out 2500+ meals to hungry and help us host a weekend concert and community day. We are not talking about flying across the world, this is Detroit. Some have asked “is it safe?” Nowhere is totally 100% safe, but yes Detroit is safe. There are bad areas, and if you are nervous about doing ministry in the hood, don’t worry because there is always something you can do and we can accommodate you. Come on up for a visit, hang out on a weekend, stop in and say hi.
- Lastly, move here. I have been asked “why are you so different now?” & “what changed?” I wrote a few blogs on it here, here, here and here, but in short everything changed when I moved here. Once you get out of your comfort zone and really get stretched, its amazing what God can do in your life. To the entrepreneur- move here, start a business, hire locals and help our city. To the average person- save up some money, find a job or career and lock it in before you move here, get here and become involved in our church or someone’s church to help make a difference.
I pray that no matter what you decide to do, you will do something. Take a few moments now and pray for my city. Take a few minutes and drop us a letter or message of encouragement. Maybe you can give? Maybe come visit for a little bit? Maybe you could repost this to you Facebook page or talk to your church about a missions trip to Detroit?
Whatever you do, don’t give up on Detroit. I haven’t, and I live here.
let the redeemed speak louder,