We live in very polarizing times. All you have to do is just read or watch a little bit of news or follow social media and you see it. The other day, I purposely kept flipping between a couple networks airing the same issue on tv but you almost wouldn’t know it. Their focus, stance, etc. were so vastly different from one another. We have focused a lot here on campus the past month on the topic of diversity and it has stirred all kinds of emotions. We are polarized on a lot of things, politics, social issues, race, and history just to name a few. There are so many opinions flying around and so many attempts at answers by so-called wise experts, and a lot of anger and blame thrown around as well. Many are focused on the symptoms, the outward issues and do not address the root of the problem, sin.
This past weekend we took some college students to Mack Avenue Community Church and Development in Detroit. We were there to serve but also to learn, absorb and take back and that we did! This is a community that was almost totally destroyed by the division of racism, poverty and hate over the past several decades, and the devastation is clearly seen in neighborhoods and buildings all around. As we toured the 41824, those in the group were clearly shocked and moved at what we saw. What is amazing however is how things are changing because of the spirit of people in Mack Ave Community Church and Development. When you meet those like Charles and Ashley, just to name two, you don’t see division, you see the spirit of unity. Make no mistake, this community is diverse. There are those struggling in poverty and those who are not. There are different races and cultural backgrounds, but there is a real culture of unity rising out of the MACC culture. Its authentic! It is genuine! It is contagious and it's clearly rooted in Jesus. As you learn about the community deep down, you see that at their core, the Gospel shines out in the way they treat each other, in the way that they treat everyone in the 41824 through their ministry.
Coffee Shop/Laundry Mat and gathering place on Mack Ave Detroit Michigan
When Jesus was on the earth, believe it or not, He chose quite a diverse group to invest in, live with and do ministry. At first glance you don’t see it because they are all Israeli people, however if you go deeper into who they are you see clearly. In His core group you will find a right winged zealot who comes from a group wanting to overthrow Rome, a tax collector seen by most as a leftist jewish sellout, and a handful of galilean fisherman, among others, who have some diversity in faith, education and even one who was all about the money. And that doesn’t count the men and women who were on the fringe of this core group working, supporting and learning right alongside them. Not only did He bring these guys together, but sent them off together as well to change the world around them and the whole world forever. He chose a group that could only find unity if He was at the center of their movement, if His voice was louder than theirs, if His ways were the ways they were all trusting in and conforming to, not the ways of man. Then and only then, could unity be found! He showed them the true enemy, sin, which separates us from God, and He literally lived out through His death and resurrection the answer of how to be what the book of Romans calls “an overcomer”. And even when He ascended to heaven He wasn’t gone, but He empowered them by the Holy Spirit He sent to dwell in them so they could march on, and that same spirit is available to us!
In the ministry at Detroit, they are a month away from the opening of the “The Commons” on Mack Avenue: a coffee shop/laundromat. A outdoor community is also planned with seating, gardening and a stage. A safe place. A common ground. A place to find community. A place to build relationships. A place to see Jesus with skin through those who will be serving in ministry there. While some may see it as a foolish attempt in neighborhood God sees it as a place that has the potential to flip that community upside down.
Laundry Mat inside The Commons
When the commons was being developed and the community was engaged on what are the needs a the top of the list was a laundry mat.
How do we deal with such polorazing times? Yes, I am interested in politics. Yes, I have opinions, and yes, I care about the social issues, yet at the root we must recognize the sin problem and then recognize the solutions are not from the wise of this world. Seeking a greater wisdom many deem foolish. 1 Corinthians 1:24-27 says “ but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” We need more of Him and less of us. Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”
We will continue monthly to journey to Detroit with students and allow God to show His strength through our weakness!. Our calling through FSI is two fold: to disciple those that we are leading into Detroit.To help them to learn we are all missionaries each and every day and allow these trips to stoke a passion in them to serve God. To help them find God's dream, not their own. To help them sift through the noise of the culture of today and clearly hear the word of God. We also want to make a positive impact for Christ in the places we travel to. We ask God to take us in our weakness and foolishness and show Himself through us!
Winter Basketball League
How can you help?
Next trip to Detroit is the weekend of March 17.
Pray for us as we grow our discipleship group here in Grand Rapids.
Pray for the Mack Ave community as they prepare to open The Commons and for their daily missional living in their community.
Join us in a future trip to Detroit or beyond.
Financially support our ministry through FSI as we use that money for ministry with our students.
Attempting to live in the foolishness of God,