I am updating this post as a friend just informed me that in several different incidents in Detroit last weekend 25 people (not 16) were shot and 7 were killed. Sounds like a report out of Iraq or Afghanistan. Sounds like something from post fall Genesis. Sobering. Last month a 5 year old girl who lives a few streets away from our neighborhood was abducted at 3AM in a family dispute, strangled, and her body dumped in a house set ablaze in a failed attempt to cover her murder. Appalling. Just this afternoon a pastor of a church that meets 8 blocks south of us told me that he has buried 6 young men this summer who have been murdered. It’s real.
While we do not feel immediately threatened as many – but not all – of these crimes are associated with drug activity, we are viscerally reminded that Detroit, with all it’s rich beauty, is a broken place. So would you commit to fervently pray that the gospel would powerfully move in the hearts of many here? Pray for safety, empowerment by the Spirit, redemption, restoration, & community transformation.
Man, I am so thankful that Jesus suffered the just wrath of God for our sins in our place on the cross; rose from the dead on the third day conquering death, hell, sin, & Satan; and right now is making all things new through the power of His risen life! That’s why we can have hope in the midst of brokenness. That’s why we know God can use us in His purpose of restoring all things to Himself. That’s why we can live with a holy abandon to the cause of the great commission, knowing that God reigns over every last atom of the universe and that death is only the gateway to His immediate presence. (As I write this blogpost a friend just texted me, “Live for the end.” Yes!) That’s why we know your prayers – yes, your prayers – for Detroit are heard and answered!
As an addendum to the first addition of this post let me share some thoughts on two wrong, and extreme, views of Detroit. One such view is that Detroit is nothing but death and destruction. Simply put, that is a massively ignorant and woefully inaccurate characterization of Detroit. This view is popularized by the national media…or by people who only drive in for a ballgame and don’t actually visit the city itself. Come hang with us for an afternoon in our neighborhood and you’ll fall in love with this community! The other off-base view is that there really is nothing wrong with Detroit – that it’s all about revitalization, new businesses, and cool urban farms;) Sometimes this viewpoint can be embraced by those who see the error of the other extreme. The reality is this – Detroit is both broken and beautiful! And God is at work here.
Now one more thought for those who would let these statistics keep them &/or friends and family away from living in Detroit. Is that kind of thinking rooted in faith in God or unbelief? Are not the exact number of our days, according to Psalm 139, already numbered? Has not God already declared the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10)? Does not God call us to count our lives as nothing so that we may fulfill our mission of testifying to the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24, Rev 12:11)? And isn’t absence from the body, whether at a young age or old, presence with the Lord (2 Cor 5)? Certainly not everyone is called to live in a place like Detroit. But your response to the idea of living in such a place may reveal who you are trusting for safety & security. I am thankful that in my fears the gospel reminds me “that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)