This tour of downtown Detroit is accompanied by the music of Keys of Detroit, a bit of a Sugar Hill Gang & Luther Vandross-ish mix.
Wanna ride with us?
This tour of downtown Detroit is accompanied by the music of Keys of Detroit, a bit of a Sugar Hill Gang & Luther Vandross-ish mix.
Wanna ride with us?
You read “Food Crisis in Detroit” and what comes to your mind?
Where I live I can get to at least 5 grocery stores in a matter of 5 minutes. I even have 5 small “convenience stores” around 5 minutes away or less.
In Motown that is not the case. There is an underserved market. Stats also bear this out. According to the Wall Street Journal retailers headed out of town to the burbs and aren’t coming back any time soon (read article here).
“No national grocery chain operates a store here. A lack of outlets that sell fresh produce and meat has led the United Food and Commercial Workers union and a community group to think about building a grocery store of its own.”
For the stores left in Motown expired food is a huge problem (read article here).
Many residents rely on convenience stores for bread, milk, eggs and snacks. Small stores that do offer meat and produce often sell food past its expiration date, shoppers said. The city has raided stores over the years to crack down on sales of expired food, but many say the problem still persists.
Ladies can you imagine not having a Costco, Meijer, or Wal-mart type warehouse store close? Some may think they lived out on the PRAIRIE if that was the case, but it is a real dynamic in Motown.
1. To provide access to low-cost fruits and vegetables through a produce truck and store which are clean and safe.
2. To teach gardening and food development to children and teens through the development and nurturing of an urban garden(s) in the community.
3. To empower local gardeners to become vendors to the produce market thereby earning income from their gardening.
4. To develop the advocacy skills of community teens to clean up liquor stores to make them more community and family friendly, and providing fresh produce.
5. To educate teens to teach healthy cooking and personal well-being classes to interested residents utilizing produce.
The Grio did an article on Peaches and Greens and has a video along with an article that explains a little of what they do.
We are hoping to upon arrival in Motown to work with Peaches & Greens and get some training and pointers from them and see what God will have us do in our community. Lisa Johanon has been a bright spot in her community and has set up a team of people to be advocates for the poor. Lisa spent some time with us in February when we made our trip and seeing her resolve and love for her community was infectious.
Matthew 25: 34-40 Jesus talks about helping the “least of these brothers” you did it unto me.
John 6: 35 is what we really want to be about. Sharing the “bread” that satisfies eternally and a “water” that will never let you go dry.
Sharing “peaches and greens” will help people physically, and that is what we want to do, but we also want to share the “bread and water” so that they are satisfied in Jesus the true food.
Here are a few pictures of some of my brothers & sisters at Grace & Truth Bible Church I have been greatly privileged to serve with for nearly 5 years in Hillsboro – the other 2 elders (Tim Tsuei, Josh Tuttle), our current intern (Stephen Branine) & a few members. Some of the pictures were taken at The Gospel Coalition Conference 2009 & the Worship God Conference 2009.
OK, so I “found” a few older pictures of my fellow elders just so you can get to know them a bit. And to see if they are checking in;)
Last week I discussed from Colossians 3:12-14 how a unified church is an essential & winsome apologetic for the gospel. However, in a fallen world something gets in the way – namely, us! Thankfully, in Christ we have a power to forgive stronger than the pain that resists that forgiving!
Because a healthy church body is so important for the gospel advance in His kindness God gives us further instruction in Colossians 3:15-17.
First, we are to let the peace of Christ rule. In short, the umpire in how we relate to others is how God has related to us in Christ. The decisive factor in how we respond to others must not be their performance or merit but grace!
Second, we are to let the word of Christ dwell. The message of Jesus, contained in all of Scripture (Luke 24:44-49), must saturate us. This does not happen accidentally – there must be intentionality! This deliberate soaking in the gospel will evidence itself in Christ-centered mutual every believer instruction, exhortation, & celebration.
Third, we are to let the glory of Christ motivate. It is all too easy to let our activity in the church body be motivated by personal agendas & reputation. But when we all have the common goal of Christ being glorified in all our words & deeds then we can see even the way we deal with our differences as opportunities to show how great Jesus is & how grateful we all are for His infinite mercy & tireless patience with us!
To listen to this message on Healthy Body Life click here.
In God’s providence & kindness the Bontrager & Hanafee families connected over 12 years ago when Clete & Mike met through work. Since that time the families have become close friends & have enjoyed several vacations together. These photos are from our 2008 summer vacation in Colorado. From touring the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City to getting stuck in sand to going a thousand feet below the surface in a mineshaft to a fun July 4th celebration we experienced many great times together! Perhaps those events picture what we will do in Detroit together – take on false religious thinking, plow through difficulties, go deep with the gospel, & celebrate the freedom the gospel gives.
Pray for Mike as he will be returning to Colorado in late May to speak at Providence Bible Church in Denver & share the vision of Restore Church in Detroit.
To reach a community with the gospel you must understand the particular forces & dynamics that have shaped that community. We are called to exegete & understand 2 things – the Scripture AND our surrounding culture. (The book of Acts furnishes plenty of examples of this!) So as part of understanding the context of Detroit we have been diving into its history. Recently Clete discovered a series called Requiem for Detroit, a BBC documentary released this year. In order for you join us in exegeting Detroit we will post on weekends youtube segments of this fascinating documentary.
So what does requiem mean? “A song or hymn of mourning composed or performed as a memorial to a dead person.” Yes, Detroit, once the nation’s 4th largest city, has undergone decline & decay. But we don’t think it is dead! Why? Because Jesus is alive! Because God breathes on the dead & brings them to life! (Ezekiel 37:1-14, Ephesians 2:1-10) Because God loves the city! (Acts 18:9-10, Revelation 21:1-4)
May these videos help us in being instruments of connecting the people of the 48202 & 48206 zip codes with the life giving message of Jesus!
Christians living out the gospel’s implications together in community is a significant means by which the greater community is reached with the gospel. We have all heard I Pet 3:15 quoted in the context of apologetics. But the idea was that Christians were living in such a way before others that onlookers were provoked to ask, “What’s up? Why do you guys hang that way? Why do you love & care for one another so deeply?” And then comes the answer – Jesus! That’s why at Restore we treasure incarnational missional living.
Unfortunately, but realistically, in a fallen world redeemed people still have problems with one another (I know, big surprise!). We are offended, hurt, even sinned against by another brother or sister. And the pain experienced often gets in the way of extending true reconciling forgiveness because forgiveness requires letting go of the pain. Pain sears itself into our hearts like a hot iron & wraps it’s deadly tentacles around our minds like a killer octopus. We find ourselves utterly unable to look past the scars & hack through the tentacles. Bitterness & deception begin to seep into our thinking. Rather than being an attractive community to those watching, we mirror the very relational conflicts they themselves experience.
What we need is a power to forgive stronger than the power of the pain that resists forgiving. We have this in Jesus! He suffered the ultimate pain to forgive us so that we might absorb the pain necessary to forgive others. In ourselves we have no power to forgive. In Christ we have no excuse not to. The power to forgive others is found in the forgiveness we have received from God. We are called to bend the gospel’s vertical forgiveness horizontally to others.
Any body of believers that wants to be an attractive community to onlookers & a winsome apologetic for the gospel must practice these truths of Colossians 3:12-14. You can find my sermon on this text, Faithful & Free Followers Forgive, here.
By constantly applying the gospel may Restore Church (& yours) be a beautiful breathing advertisement for Jesus!
Most times when people hear the word “BONTRAGER” they think of tires on a Trek bike. We are the “other” Bontragers.
My wife and I (Ruth) were married May 1993 in Greenville, South Carolina. We now have four children and love how God has used even our children to mold us more into His image. Katie is our oldest (15 years old) and is a freshman at Glencoe High School in Hillsboro. Kellie is our youngest daughter (14 years old) and is in 8th grade at Evergreen Middle School. We also have two boys Clete III (8 years old & 2nd grade) and Clayton (6 years old & kindergarten) both go to Patterson Elementary School.
We have the great privilege of ministering at Grace & Truth Bible Church. We have been so blessed with so many friends over the past 3 years and will terribly miss them when we move to Detroit. We have become so close to the folks in our small group and thank the Lord how they have ministered in our lives. I want to thank especially Paula Hoke for her love for our family and her love for her King and being a great influence in our life and also Terry and Becky Woolbright for their wisdom in our small group. They have been such a blessing in our life.
A desire for ministry to the marginalized of our society has been a recurring theme in our life. God has placed within us a real burning desire to see His saving grace go forth in this type of setting. Bridgetown Ministries has been a great training ground for us in a lot of ways.
One thing we have learned is that changing a person’s physical situation is not the only change that needs to happen, but it sure is a great way to see the gospel in action. If we do not take care of the physical needs of these people, but only care only about getting the gospel message to them, we are not being faithful with the gospel Jesus has entrusted us with. On the flip side, if we only take care of physical needs and never get to the real problem of every person, we are again not really loving people like Christ loved us. (James 2:5 / Matt 25: 37-40)
The Bontrager family sees this next chapter of our life as what we have been designed by God to do. We hope to see many people that Jesus purchased on the cross come to Him by our ministry. We want to be salt and light in a decaying place (Matt 5: 13-16) like Detroit Michigan.
Some prayer needs:
The vision of Restore Church is to be a gospel-centered, missional-oriented, incarnational-structured ministry.
The gospel is that which saves sinners & transforms saints. This is the message of Restore.
The church exists for God to be glorified through faith filled obedience to the great commission. This is the mission of Restore.
The church is to live in & become part of a community. This is the incarnational means to accomplishing the mission of Restore of making the gospel known to those who live in the 48202 & 48206 zip codes of Detroit.
Admittedly, like the term missional, the term incarnational has become a a buzzword. In reality there is nothing new or innovative to this concept. It was both modeled (John 1:14) & taught by Jesus (Matthew 5:13-16; John 17:15, 18; Acts 1:8). Likewise, Paul taught & practiced incarnational ministry (I Cor 9:19-23, Acts 13-28).
A week ago I shared a very informative interview on urban church planting by Ian McConnell of Grace Bible Church in Philadelphia. Today I want to share his thoughts on incarnational ministry from part 2 of the interview with Dave Harvey of Sovereign Grace Ministries.
I have learned that incarnational ministry is not an option.
OK, I know that “incarnational” is a buzzword these days, and it can mean a lot of things depending on who you talk to. So let me define it the way I’m talking about it. It simply means that when planting an urban church, dwelling among the people we serve is, in my opinion, a serious “must.” Now ideally, a church could be planted with believers who already live in the urban context. But often urban church planting is pioneering work—bringing a gospel-preaching church to an area where there are few, if any gospel-believing people. Church planters should not be commuters, especially in urban areas. Before we moved, we only lived 15 minutes away from the planting neighborhood, but it might as well have been 50 miles, or even Pluto, because the demographic differences were so significant. Living and indentifying “in the flesh” with those whom you are serving is vital. Here are a few reasons why:
• It removes the “us” and “them” barrier that divides so many people in the city.
• It moves us into close proximity to those who need to see the gospel lived out in “dual communities” (church and neighborhood).
• It provides an opportunity for our homes to be places for ministry rather than places to escape from ministry.
• It reflects the Savior’s approach to be among the people he ministered to in word and deed.
• It models pastoral approachability in a radical way.
Incarnational ministry is not just a “must” for urban ministry, it is a necessity for all ministry. What steps might God be calling you to take in your zip code?
Sunday Francis Chan announced to Cornerstone Church he would be leaving that church to plant a new ministry in a major city. The Holy Spirit is leading the Chan family to lay down their lives and the lives of their children for the sake of the gospel. Check out the Gospel Coalition Blog and watch the video of Francis and his wife pouring out their heart to the church.
The Holy Spirit is doing amazing work in our lives as we seek to lay down our families for Jesus in Detroit. Not all are called to inner city ministry, but we are all commanded to lay down our lives for the sake of the gospel (Luke 14:25-33).
What matters is not our personal ambitions, but what the Holy Spirit calls us to do. Is the Holy Spirit calling you? Can you say or have you said in the past week, month, year “The Holy Spirit is directing me to do____”
Luke 9:23 states we are to take up our cross daily. That means there are specifics that He wants us to do. Hence, “taking up your cross” refers to giving your whole life to God, as Jesus was about to give His life for us. This involves bearing burdens, but it is deeper than that. It is a total dedication of life. Our whole life is given to His service in anything He says. This will lead us to willingly deny self. Following Him then requires us to live as He lived His life.
The verse below is one that sums up what we want to be about. Mike and Francis Chan claim this as “their” verse, but I think it is a big enough verse for all of us to claim.
But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24
Please pray for us as we seek to be Spirit directed in our lives.