Detroit is almost back!
Well, maybe not so much. Nevertheless, her resiliency is impressive. A great deal has been written and celebrated about the renaissance taking place in the downtown corridor. Real Estate there is in a “boom” phase. New businesses, new buildings, new restaurants, new rail transportation.
All good. But much remains unfinished. Detroit is down to 20% of its population of 50 years ago. The city still faces serious “uphill” climbs with under-performing schools and with nearly 40% of its population living at or below the poverty level. Unsafe neighborhoods and urban blight still plague this once great American city.
What can Christians do? We can turn to what we in this region might call our “Jerusalem” and be the very witnesses Jesus anticipated we would be in Acts 1:8. We can give our lives to the people of Detroit in the practical way Paul commended the Philippians. “…it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for Hisgood pleasure…prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:13 & 15).
In Regent Park for the last 12 years LifeBuilders has invested its heart, sweat, and at times, tears. But what was a dream only a decade ago has begun to take shape in reality. Refurbished, rented and purchased homes and safer neighborhoods. The Gospel offered in grace through children and family programs. Hope is returning. Smiles are breaking out everywhere.
We take no credit. At best we may say as Jesus suggested,
“We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty”
(Luke 17:10, NIV).
I encourage all of us in this season – perhaps in what may even be our last opportunity – to do our duty. Give clear and practical testimony to the goodness and grace of God. Below are several ministries we personally endorse doing wonderful Gospel work in the City. Please volunteer this summer at one of them. Give your lives for the sake of Christ to those who don’t know Him…yet!
Larry & Marilyn Johnson