Reflections on Detroit visit by launch team member JJ
On our last trip to Detroit we were accompanied by our good friend & fellow worshiper of Jesus, John Johnson. John’s call to move to Detroit & be part of the Restore Church launch team was confirmed on that visit. I’ve asked him to share some thoughts about his time in the D so here they are…
Matthew 9:37 … the harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.
By the grace of God, I was invited to visit the neighborhood of a future church plant in Detroit. The experience opened my eyes to the incredible need there. For example, with numerous unwed mothers, fathers not taking responsibility for children, and couples living together, a relationship between husband and wife that models Christ’s love would shine like a light in a dark cave. Detroit needs the Gospel, laborers for the harvest, and support…all for God’s glory!
Detroit needs the gospel
Matthew 9:12-13 … those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.
When I was young, I grew up in a church that practiced Christianity more like a cultural event then a lifestyle. Naively, I believed that Christians were those who went to church on Sunday and were good people. Though I grew up in church and professed salvation at an age of seven, I believe true salvation didn’t occur until 17 or 18. On a church mission trip to the Bay Area Rescue Mission in California, I met a man in a drug rehab program who met Jesus a year before. He spoke of his addiction to drugs at 13, drug dealing at 15, being kicked out of his house at 18, and almost meeting death shortly after. God lead him to the Rescue Mission where he heard the gospel for the first time. He repented, bent his knee and gave everything to Christ. With blazing fire in his eyes he told me of the joy he discovered in reading, serving, and giving all to the work of Christ. He only wished to he had known Christ when he was young, that his years were not wasted. God used this man to expose my self righteousness and hypocrisy. His words cut me like a sword. I had his wish and knew I did nothing with it. I, like the pharisees, believed that I was righteous. People in Detroit are bleeding like a open wound. Even public schools are asking for help. A man who works for a Christian organization offered to teach a finance class. They ask him to teach the bible instead! In other places the ACLU would be all over this but Detroit needs help, they need the gospel. Jesus as the great physician went to the sick because they understood their desperate need of Him.
Laborers for the harvest
The economy is crumbling, the unemployment rate is through the roof, boarded and abandoned buildings abound, and God is working in Detroit. During my stay in Detroit I met a drug dealer. At 33 he just began working his first legitimate job in lawn maintenance. He rejoiced in being a part of a team, receiving a pay check, and gaining a respectable identity. This was shocking to me as I began working at 16. The abundant opportunities and options available to me were not available to him.
Lately, I’ve been troubled by a false dichotomy between an urban and foreign missionaries. Many respect and admire those who will forsake their lives and the safety of their families to move into a dangerous tribal region. One of the most famous examples is Elisabeth Eliot and the death of her husband Jim. How is a foreign missionary different from an urban? Other than language I don’t see a difference. People in foreign places & people in our country both need the gospel & every Christian has been called as an ambassador (2 Cor 5:20) to reach them. Everyone is called to proclaim the gospel to those around them. I pray that more laborers will come to the harvest in Detroit. I’ve heard it said, God whispers us in good times, speaks in trouble, and screams in tragedy. I believe many are ready to listen and turn their lives to Christ.
Restore Church is in need of support, not only financially but through prayer. Please consider partnering with us for the glory of God. That all people, black, white, Arab, men, women, might gather around the throne of God to worship. What mattes in life is not wealth, status, or a nice house but abounding in the work of the Lord. There is joy in experiencing and witnessing God working for His own glory!
Cor 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.