Can I actually #InfluenceDetroit...? Pt.2

A dear friend of mine wrote in one of his books that we are often given moments of inspiration, a nudge to do something.  I’ve felt that often, perhaps you have as well.  Most often, at least in my case, those “moments” came and went. 

I often wonder about some of them. Did I miss something, perhaps a great opportunity to make a difference, to have an INFLUENCE on someone or group of people or a place.  One thing I do know I did miss some opportunities.  How about you?

Here’s what happened with us.

  1. We could not get the plight of the people of Detroit who were living in under-resourced neighborhoods off of our minds.  

  2. We believed in our heart that there just had to be something we could do, a way we could help in some meaningful manner.  We had lots of ideas, saw lots of needs.  

  3. We decided to not be paralyzed by over analyzing the situation. We had done plenty of that in our life and done nothing!!

  4. We thought, at a minimum,  we could be a source of encouragement in the midst of the despair and hopelessness by showing up, jumping in, making ourselves available to do whatever needed to be done.  And that we did.  

  5. This was our opportunity to INFLUENCE.  Where many had been so discouraged and had given up we stepped in fresh and began doing a lot of advocating and just helping and encouraging.  It’s amazing how just being present can have such an INFLUENCE on people.  Just doing what they had grown weary doing.  Advocating for justice and fairness and then digging in and helping where we could.

  6. The INFLUENCE quickly extended to others who saw the difference we were making and they decided to join us.  We were surprised that so many people followed!!  Those partnerships are what made the real difference, eventually the real INFLUENCE.

And now look at what God did with a step of faith, with saying just saying “I’m going to do something”. Not sure of the outcome, I’m just going to lend a hand where there is great need and see what God does.  HE likes those places you know!!

In fact, take a look at this community map, and see how much INFLUENCE we are seeing in Regent Park!

Can I actually #influenceDetroit in some meaningful way?

We have been asked this question for years and can answer it more from your perspective than you might think.  We had to ask ourselves that very question years ago.  We might have been in the very place then that you are today.  Here is our conclusion and it has proven true, at least for us. 

  1. We didn’t initially consider how we could “influence” Detroit.  That would have been a very prideful, naïve thought.  We were simply burdened by the plight of the people of Detroit.  Remember the situation in Detroit 15 years ago.  Unprecedented in its devastation in most every way.  

  2. We had to get our eyes off of what others were doing, and focus on what we might be able to do – where attention was needed.  We were not Dan Gilbert, by any stretch of the imagination.  Our attention was turned to deteriorating Detroit neighborhoods where hopelessness and despair existed.  We had to listen to our own hearts, as God spoke to us, and tune out the voices that would say, “don’t bother”, “you can’t do anything meaningful”, “give your money overseas”, and so on.  

  3. We have believed in our heart for years that everybody can do something and that’s exactly what we did.  Something. Influence? Never occurred to us. What we decided was that we were no longer going to sit in the comfort of our suburban home and watch what was happening.  We took a step of faith and left the outcome to God. 

In my next blog I will share with you how it actually turned out that our step of faith did have an influence in ways we never anticipated.  So be encouraged. You CAN have an influence in Detroit.  You can have it with us or other organizations working in Detroit neighborhoods.

If your interest has been “perked” come back next week and I’ll share with you what happened.   Stay tuned.  Get ready.  You can #InfluenceDetroit by just saying “YES!”.

 

The faces of hope in Regent Park

A couple of weeks ago I drove around the corner from the office to visit with the volunteer group from Pennsylvania that was working on one of our houses. What I witnessed left me speechless, as I saw not only the volunteers hard at work, but countless residents working on their own properties. In 13 years of this work I had yet to see what I saw that day. Let me elaborate just a bit as its so fresh in my mind. One of our tenants was busy landscaping her property, she takes great pride in her work, and rightfully so as her home looks beautiful enough to receive an award.

City trucks were busy repaving Cushing Street, the THIRD street to be repaved in recent weeks.  Down the street, more city trucks were demolishing houses that we had lobbied for many months to have removed. And, of course, the big buzz in the neighborhood is about the community park and the new Early Childhood Education center opening August 6th

A few houses down Eastburn there was a man sitting on his porch waving at me while beaming with excitement.  I waved back while yelling "lots going on today" over noise. He then pointed to the sky and said “I guess blessings are raining down from above”. He then went to visit with another cheerful neighbor a few houses away. As I looked up and down this block, I realized that the reason the residents were all so joyful was because their common vision was being realized. These people stuck it out through the worst of times in this community, and now were seeing the fruit of their perseverance. These people are my heroes.

Just a few minutes later a man was driving by, he stopped to ask if we had any homes for sale because this was a community he wants to be a part of. The neighborhood is looking so incredible these days it is quite apparent that something is happening here that can’t be explained apart from God.
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Hope in our case looks as simple as a smile, sounds like praise to the Lord for all He is doing, and is manifested in residents beginning to participate in the great work God has started.  
God is revealing Himself in countless ways.  With God all things are possible. Today’s Regent Park is a testimony to God’s love and wonder working power in the face of what seemed like impossible odds.  

”lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”   Psalm 121:1