Category: Addressing Global Issues

Creative Arts Ministry Partnering with Hope Clinic

by Erica Yi

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Throughout the past several years, our church has had the privilege of partnering together with Hope Clinic, an interdenominational Christian organization that serves communities in need through various medical, dental and social services. The Creative Arts team recently had two opportunities to participate and host their weekly worship service on Sunday evenings where patients, volunteers & staff gather together. We were able to facilitate the time of worship through songs and had a guest speaker share from the Word as well. The ultimate vision for these services is to reach out to the surrounding community and to share the message of hope to those in need.

One of our team members met a patient who attends the clinic, and he was in his sixties. As he was sharing, he described how his life had seemed so unfulfilling up until now and that he felt distant from God. Toward the end of our service, we got a chance to pray for him and he said, while sniffling, “I can’t give up on God because He won’t ever give up on me”. It was an eye-opening reminder that there are people that live day to day without a sense of purpose or joy, but that God’s heart is full of compassion for us all and wants to bring us back to Him. We realized that God truly is the only one who can give us eternal hope despite our circumstances. It was humbling and encouraging hearing this man respond in this way after our time together and there were others who were blessed and refreshed by the simple time of worship together.

We left feeling very thankful for the opportunity to share the Gospel and to gather as the Church as we gathered with people from various backgrounds and we saw how real the pains, burdens, and worries of this world are, yet, we were brought back to the greater reality that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We are praying and believing by faith that God will open more doors for us to share the Gospel through our love for worship and the arts!

Detroit LIFE Group: Hot Chocolate Evangelism and Prayer

by David Lai

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Looking to create a space to engage the city of Detroit with our LIFE group ministry, we began a missional initiative we’ve called Hot Chocolate Evangelism and Prayer (Hot Chop for short) during our first year in the city. On any given Hot Chop night, we went out in small groups into various parts of the city and used hot chocolate as a way to engage in conversation with folks we met on the street. From groups of friends having a night on the town to folks who lived on the streets, Hot Chop challenged our ministry to go out of our comfort zones and be bold in engaging folks we didn’t know in conversation. What we found many times was that hot chocolate served many times merely as a conversation starter and many folks opened up about their lives soon after we offered them a hot drink. We always tried to end our conversations by offering prayer, of which many people took us up on that offer!

Hot Chop has been a great way to get a stronger on-the-ground feel for the city and been a great discipleship opportunity for our members. We’ve seen one sister come out to our LIFE group ministry through a Hot Chop night and have continued to hold Hot Chop nights through the winter months during our 2nd year in the city. We look forward to continuing to use Hot Chop to engage our city moving onwards!

YOLO & Infinity LIFE Groups Reaching Ann Arbor

by Nina Mo

Hey all!

I just wanted to share a little about how my LIFE group, Infinity, had the privilege of partnering with a Focus and Covenant LIFE group (single adults and married couples) YOLO, to outreach to the homeless community in Ann Arbor this past March. As part of the preparation, Infinity and YOLO had a joint LIFE group meeting (which was the first time we ever did that!) during the week in order to get to know one another and pray together. This experience was really awesome because I never had a chance to meet people in the single adults and married couples life stages and we were blessed by their hospitality as they invited us into their home with such wide-open hearts.

For the outreach project, we wanted to distribute care packages to those in need because they lack a lot of things that we may take for granted on a day-to-day basis. During the week, we delegated who would bring which items – ranging from snacks, clothing, toothbrushes, shampoo, and other toiletries. Both our LIFE groups gathered again the night prior to the outreach to make these care packages. We formed an assembly line and the care packages were made almost instantaneously. It was very cool to see how everyone played a role in creating them and how we all came together like a well-oiled machine. To close out, we prayed together for the homeless community of Ann Arbor and wrote an encouraging note/verse to leave in each care package.

This was my first time doing any sort of outreach so I was pretty nervous. Surrounded by people who had done this before or showed no signs of nervousness, I was intimidated and scared that what I had to offer was inadequate. I asked God to give us all a spirit of boldness and that He would use people even like me to speak to and just care for His people.

On the day of outreach, we divided into smaller groups of 3-4 people, and were assigned a different section of the city. My group had three care packages and wanted to give at least one out as a goal – but after walking around our block multiple times without seeing anybody, I was very discouraged. We passed by other groups talking to people, praying for others and handing out their care packages in their respective blocks. I felt like we were the only group that was unsuccessful. But I was really thankful to have two very encouraging sisters in my group who wouldn’t give up and we decided to explore our assigned block of the city.

Then we came across a man named Derek who was selling a newspaper called Ground Cover, on the corner of the street. We talked to him for a little while and learned that he had two daughters going to school in the Ann Arbor area and that aside from Ground Cover, he was still trying to find another job to support his daughters. It was really encouraging to see that he was hopeful and still was actively finding ways to get employed. He had the biggest smile that radiated from cheek to cheek when he opened up the care package that we gave him and he was genuinely so thankful. As we talked more and prayed for him, I knew that God had been and will continue to work in this man’s life – we were privileged to catch a glimpse of His work and cross paths with Derek.

When the day ended, we all came together again to debrief and the groups shared about all the different people they met. Even though we reached out to just a few people in the City of Ann Arbor, I learned that God’s love is enormous for all His people and I was blessed to be able to see His heart for this community.

FREE: Teaching English at Binong Village

Global Band Missions Project 2013

Missional Initiatives

by Pastor Pete Dahlem

Our world wasn’t always this way.

Of course, I can’t remember a world that was any different than what we live in now. In my lifetime, I have always known that thousands of children starve to death each day.1 The tragic statistic that almost one out of two marriages will be torn apart by divorce, leaving a trail of wounds and broken promises behind, is taken for granted.2 One can find urban landscapes, once beacons of opportunity to previous generations, now darkened by poverty, neglect, and crime. And although slavery has long been outlawed in developed nations, there are still over 30 million slaves in the world today, more than at any other time in human history.3

This is not how it’s supposed to be.

Once Beautiful

“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” (Gen 1:31a, NIV84)

Once a magnificent divine masterpiece, our world has been broken down by the vandalism of sin for millennia. The wounds, injustices, and sorrows we are now haunted by are but shadows of God’s beautiful creation – a beauty that longs to be restored (Rom 8:19-21).

God was not satisfied to watch His creation fall into decay, and He immediately began to seek reconciliation with His fallen image-bearers (Gen 3:9). The Lord, jealous for His glory (Deut 32:16), began to speak of a time when all broken things would be restored (Isa 49). This restoration came to us in the person of Jesus Christ, and his mission continues in the world until he will come again (Acts 1:6-8).

More Than Salvation

For much of modern history, the Church has preached a message of salvation through Jesus Christ, and this proclamation has brought new spiritual life to millions of people. The truth that Jesus “came to seek and save what was lost” (Luke 19:10, NIV84) is astounding – God came to earth to reach out to those who had turned away from Him.

But what then? Is the end of God’s plan simply to begin a personal relationship and save individuals from eternal torment, or does the loving Creator of the universe have a greater purpose for His redeemed people?

Let’s take a look at how Jesus described his mission in Luke 4:17-21 (NIV84).

The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

It seems that there is more to this passage than a message of individual salvation. Perhaps God means for His grace to achieve something more through the lives of His people. Perhaps we have limited God by saying that the gospel is only for salvation.

At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus began to preach a simple message: “’The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!’” (Mark 1:15, NIV84) The proclamation of the kingdom of God is a distinguishing mark of Jesus’ ministry – he believed that it was very important, and we should consider what this means for us.

Several prominent Christian leaders have defined the kingdom of God as follows in the Missional Manifesto:

We affirm that the gospel is the good news of God’s Kingdom. The Kingdom is the active and comprehensive rule of God over His whole creation. The sovereign reign of God brings righteousness (right relationships with God, others, and creation), restores justice, and brings healing to a broken world. The Kingdom of God has been inaugurated but is still “not yet.” It will not be fully revealed until Jesus returns. The church, birthed in the wake of the kingdom, serves as an agent of the King in the “already and not yet” of the Kingdom by proclaiming and spreading the gospel and living out its implications.4

There seems to be more to this than simply inviting people into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Our Lord has a mission for us that extends to the whole world, with the goal of reconciling God, people, and the entire creation. Now we are beginning to see a more complete biblical picture of Jesus’ ministry.

There is a Hebrew word that describes God’s goal in bringing His kingdom to the world: shalom (םשָׁלוֹ). Frequently translated as “peace”, shalom has a far deeper meaning: completeness, wholeness, safety, prosperity, health, soundness, welfare, friendship, peace.5 Jesus is described by the prophet Isaiah as the bringer of shalom and justice to the world.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this. (Isa 9:6-7, NIV84)

In a world suffering from the cumulative effects of sin, doesn’t every family, neighborhood, culture, and nation need some of God’s shalom?

CUFFS

We must once more turn to the Bible to discover more of God’s heart for the world. From beginning to end, scripture presents us with a consistent revelation of God, who reaches out to His broken creation in holiness and love. Because of the fallen state of the world, people have become “slaves to sin” (Rom 6), and we are in need of God’s intervention to set us free. There are several consistent meta-themes that can be discovered in the Bible’s pages, which will be outlined here in the acronym CUFFS.

  • Cities: God often deals with people not only individually, but also corporately, and the Bible shows us many occasions when cities were the recipients of both God’s love and judgment. Cities were prophesied to (Isa 23), wept over (Luke 19:41), destroyed (Gen 19), and evangelized (Jon 3, Acts 17). We look forward to a redeemed city, the New Jerusalem, where the kingdom of God will be completely realized (Heb 11:10, Rev 21:2). Howard Snyder explains in his book Kingdom, Church, and World, that cities are places of power, places of the poor, and places of mission.6 There is enormous potential in cities to demonstrate the redemptive power of God.
  • Underprivileged: The Bible speaks consistently with concern for the underprivileged in this world (Luke 6:20, Zech 7:9-10, James 2:14-17, Lev 19:9-10). The God who “was rich, yet for your sake he became poor” (2 Cor 8:9, NIV84), wants His people to care for those who are in need, whether they lack access to food, shelter, education, health care, or other needs.
  • Freedom: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Gal 5:1, NIV84). God desires to bring freedom to those who are enslaved or unjustly imprisoned. Paul advocated for Christians to free slaves (Philem 1:16), and God went to great lengths to free His people from slavery in Egypt (Ex 8:1). There are still millions of people held in slavery today, and God wants to set them free.
  • Family: God is the “Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name” (Eph 3:15, NIV84). He created the first family (Gen 2-4), commanded children to honor their parents (Ex 20:12), taught families to be centers of spiritual life (Deut 11:19), and expects faithfulness to marital vows (Matt 19:6). The Church is meant to be a new spiritual family (1 Tim 5:1-2). Families in our world are broken and hurting, and in need of God’s saving and healing touch.
  • Splendor: The whole universe was created as a display of God’s glory (Ps 19:1), and He made it “very good” (Gen 1:31, NIV84). All nations of the world are meant to glorify the Lord (Ps 86:9, Ps 108:3, Rev 7:9). And yet, when we look at the world, we see things broken rather than whole, tarnished rather than beautiful. Our God, the great artist, created us in His image so that we could use our gifts and creative ability to both restore God’s original splendor to the world, and also to create new beauty for His glory.

We are a long way from the beauty of the original creation, but as the new family of God, we have the opportunity to act as the hands and feet of Jesus and bring shalom back to the world. We will now explore a specific means of addressing these global issues: missional initiatives.

Missional Initiatives

As discussed at the beginning of this article, God’s mission to restore His lost and broken creation involves more than just individual salvation. In this context, we must reexamine the Great Commission for a deeper understanding of our mission as God’s people.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt 28:18-20)

For many Christians, we have limited our understanding of the command to “make disciples” to an affirmation of faith, a prayer, and church attendance. These basic expectations are fine, but why have we neglected “teaching them to obey”? The Bible plainly attests that we are meant to have an impact on the world far beyond individual salvation. We are called to be the “salt of the earth” and “light of the world” (Matt 5:13-14, NIV84), and to “spread everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him” (2 Cor 2:14, NIV84). The bright, fragrant, preserving influence of Jesus Christ must extend through us into areas of need in this world (CUFFS).

In obedience to the Great Commission, we must consider how the Church can partner together to meet these needs. This active partnership in addressing global issues can be described as a missional initiative.

A missional initiative is a visible display and a viable demonstration of the gospel to the world around us. It targets a specific global issue (CUFFS), and brings believers together in a partnership of gifts and abilities to meet this need. The love of God and His passion for redemption are put on display through the body of Christ.

It is important to note that missional initiatives are not the work of a few dedicated men and women. The Bible is clear that we all make up a “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9, NIV84) using our spiritual gifts to serve others (1 Peter 4:10, NIV84), functioning as a healthy spiritual body (1 Cor 12). Everyone can contribute to missional initiatives that will make a real difference in the world.

In addition to our spiritual gifts, God has resourced His people with talents and abilities in various spheres of society, enumerated in the acronym CHARGED: Commerce, Healthcare, Arts & media, Religious institutions, Government & politics, Education, and Domestic issues. Our involvement in these spheres provides both avenues for engagement with the world around us, and a toolbox of skills and abilities that can be used to address various needs.

Missional initiatives are not a new idea. In fact, the Church today is only recovering how early Christians began to obey Jesus’ teachings. Rodney Stark writes about the early church’s affect on the Greco-Roman world in his book, The Rise of Christianity:

Christianity served as a revitalization movement that arose in response to the misery, chaos, fear and brutality of life in the urban Greco-Roman world… Christianity revitalized life in Greco-Roman cities by providing new norms and new kinds of social relationships able to cope with many urgent problems. To cities filled with the homeless and impoverished, Christianity offered charity as well as hope. To cities filled with newcomers and strangers, Christianity offered an immediate basis for attachment. To cities filled with orphans and widows, Christianity provided a new and expanded sense of family. To cities torn by violent ethnic strife, Christianity offered a new basis for social solidarity. And to cities faced with epidemics, fire, and earthquakes, Christianity offered effective nursing services… For what they brought was not simply an urban movement, but a new culture.7

If churches today embrace our missionary calling, God will use us to reach into every sphere of life with the active truth of the gospel, and the world will never be the same.

The Big Picture

Missional initiatives bring God’s love to bear upon the greatest needs of our world, uniting the gifts and talents of the body of Christ with a God-given passion to serve others and restore the beauty of creation. Christians cannot sit idly by while this world suffers both the immediate and eternal affects of sin, because God has equipped us and sent us to the lost and the broken.

When Jesus taught the disciples to pray, he told them to “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matt 9:38, NIV84), and he asked the Father, “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10, NIV84). Together, we can be part of God’s answer to these prayers.

Action Steps

How can we begin to live out our missionary calling through missional initiatives? Ask God to guide you through the following steps, and begin to put your faith into action:

  • Invest in Relationships: We cannot serve people well from a distance, and if we want to make a difference in the world, we must invest in people, getting involved in their lives in the same way that Jesus did.
  • Identify Needs: As we build relationships with people, needs will begin to reveal themselves. As you identify these needs, ask God to speak to you about how to best serve and care for people.
  • Initiate Collaboration: God’s mission is not meant to be lived out alone. Begin conversations with other believers about the issues and needs you are observing, and invite them to join you in prayer.
  • Inventory Resources: As you pray and discuss with others, see what unique gifts, abilities, and passions the Lord has provided for you. How can these resources be used to meet the needs you have observed?
  • Intercede with Faith: There are many service organizations and generous people in the world, and their service can make a big impact. Ultimately, however, the only One who can transform a person, family, city, or nation is Jesus Christ. Intercede with faith that Jesus wants to use you uniquely to display his love and power to the world.
  • Implement Plans: Simply talking about missional initiatives will not help anyone. We must formulate specific plans and put them into action, or all of our discussions and good intentions will amount to nothing.
    • For examples of missional initiatives, visit HMCC 2020 Vision Blog


      1 Johnson, K. (2011, December 14). Global hunger. Retrieved from http://www.bread.org/hunger/global/
      2 Stanton, G. (2011). focusonthefamily.com. Retrieved from http://www.focusonthefamily.com/lifechallenges/relationship_challenges/divorce.aspx
      3 Batstone, D. (2012, March 7). Not for sale. Retrieved from http://www.notforsalecampaign.org/about/slavery/
      4 Stetzer, E., et al.. Missional manifesto. Retrieved from http://www.missionalmanifesto.net/
      5 Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and Word Search for shalowm (Strong’s 7965)”. Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2012. Retrieved from http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H7965&t=NIV
      6 Snyder, H. A. (2001). Kingdom, church, and world: Biblical themes for today. (pp. 49-50). Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock.
      7 Stark, R. (1997). The rise of christianity, a sociologist reconsiders history. (p. 161). Princeton: Princeton Univ Pr.

Spring Break Missional Initiative (SBMI), Chicago, March 2012

Throughout our Disciple Series at HMCC of Chicago, we learned that “to be a Christian is to be a disciple.” God placed on the hearts of many church members the desire to take up Jesus’ call to “follow me” by acting to tangibly serve the community of Chicago.  Consequently, the Spring Break Missional Initiative (SBMI) was born, and a team of 19 students from both the University of Illinois in Chicago and Northwestern University decided to use spring break in order to intercede for our city.

We spent the week partnering with Breakthrough Urban Ministries, a homeless shelter tucked away in the west side of Chicago. While Breakthrough largely operates by building relationships with those in their community through meal provisions and children afterschool programs, much of our service was behind-the-scenes—staining gazebos, organizing the storage attic, uprooting and replanting a garden, and cleaning the vans that transported the children. Throughout it all, we were reminded to serve “not by way of eye-service” but with “sincerity of heart…as for the Lord” (Col 3:22-24)

 

Anthony Tsao: “I felt intensely challenged to understand what it really means to serve with a God-centered integrity and with the sincere and honest heart of a true servant.  In contrast with my missions experience with the Community Summer Missions Project (CSMP) this past summer, SBMI had fewer opportunities to interact with the people we were serving at Breakthrough Urban Ministries, and the tasks that we had for each day were mostly mundane and repetitive manual labor.  One of the main jobs that I specifically worked on was coating the wooden gazebos outside the men’s homeless intervention center with a drippy, transparent water sealer liquid.  In the process of doing the task, I noticed how easy it was for me to grumble inside and to question the significance and impact of all that we were doing.  Since the water sealer went on clear on the wood, it was a struggle to fight the desires of wanting to see progress and noticeable change in what we did and wanting to have the affirmation of other people.  Interestingly, the stillness and silence of working on the gazebos afforded an open space to wrestle with these thoughts, to pray to God against my own rebellious heart and also to ask Him for the sober-mindedness to worship Him first and seek His greater kingdom purpose. Grace came soon afterwards.  When a fellow brother and I took a break from painting, we sat on the bench and started to just share with each other about our attitude and heart.  Shortly after, we were randomly approached by James, one of the residents at the Breakthrough shelter.  After the brief exchange of getting to know him and having a friendly and genuine conversation with him, I was left with a feeling of heaviness—from truth, rebuke and encouragement.

Through God’s gentle reminder, I reflected over my own weakness in faith and strength to love and was drawn to the reality of God’s greater steadfastness in His promises.  It was easy to just say in the beginning, God, I will serve you in whatever capacity and whatever way You call me to, but I had evidently failed to follow through.  Still, God had humbled me to recognize again that it’s His grace that sustains me and is sufficient in my life, and that it’s also the core reason why there is even an SBMI in the first place.  From that realization and reorientation back to His gospel came a greater passion and intentionality for the remainder of the trip and even for my life now.  Even if our efforts in this past week remain unacknowledged by the eyes of others, I’ve learned that there is definitely a greater gain in understanding how much better it is to shift the focus away from ourselves to serve the only One who matters, the God who is worthy of all worship, praise, acclaim and esteem.”

Irene Grace Park: “With the sun scorching those who worked outside and a ‘dust storm’ enveloping those who worked inside, it was difficult to refrain from grumbling in one’s heart while working. I am guilty for volunteering with this mind-set; I was blind to the greater vision of the menial tasks. However, I praise God for reminding me of the Cross. During my personal quiet time, I was rebuked by this verse because I did not work at it [whatever I do] with all my heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. I realized that due to my tendency to be task-oriented, I got caught in the moment with the task at hand. For example, my only goal while staining the gazebo was to paint the wooden structure with transparent chemicals where the fruits of my labor were literally invisible. I worked without any other thoughts passing through my mind and this reflected in my expressionless demeanor. The following day I intentionally recited this verse in my mind repeatedly [Col 3:22-24] and by God’s grace I found enjoyment in carrying heavy items to the dumpster… Ultimately, it came down to working for the kingdom of God.

I praise God for how He is working through members of HMCC-Chicago. This was a reminder that it is only by the grace of God that I am saved and that even engaging in conversations required me to invest all of my energies to the task. Being in close quarters with members from both sites and across LIFE groups inevitably led to deeper relationships with one another. I praise God for the opportunity to grow together and to be united. I am encouraged and reminded to live a fully devoted life for Christ and for the glory of God, and it is my prayer that I do whatever I do ‘with all [my] heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since [I] know that [I] will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ [I] am serving.’”

In the end, though much of what we did might be considered menial in the eyes of the world and pointless—mere manual labor as we moved heavy objects amidst clouds of dust and the “fruitless” act of painting invisible paint—we were reminded that seeking first His Kingdom is worth the effort, because His Kingdom is worth it (Matt 13:44-46). It was a privilege to be able to partner with Breakthrough and help them with their efforts to meet the needs of the community, a service based on the Gospel and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Maybe no one will notice that the gazebos are painted with invisible sealant or the organized storage space hidden in the shadows of the attic, but if the protected gazebos provided a place for visitors to rest and an orderly attic facilitated greater stewardship of Breakthrough’s resources, then we praise God because of the opportunity afforded for the Gospel to move forward as one more visitor to Breakthrough is quietly blessed.

 

When we literally worked with our hands, God worked on our hearts. SBMI gave us only a glimpse of what it means to serve in the name of Jesus Christ, who first set the model of True Servanthood. Our prayer is that SBMI is the start for more missional initiatives, as we learn to see, with eyes of compassion, the needs of our communities in Chicago and strive to reach out, as Christ did to us.

Here’s a video of our work with Breakthrough Ministries:|
Spring Break Missional Initiative, March 2012, Breakthrough Ministries, HMCC-CHI

– Grace Lyu

Alternative Spring Break in Detroit 2011

By Judy Yeh

From around the time when God called our church into the One Desire Fast, He had begun to place a burden for Detroit in people’s hearts. This growing burden to pray for the healing of the city was not only felt by the pastors, but also by a number of our church members. During corporate prayer gatherings, people in different LIFE Groups felt the Holy Spirit tugging their hearts. As we were praying, verses from the book of Isaiah and 2 Chronicles began to catch our attention and seems to be encouraging us to help share the love and hope of Christ to the city of Detroit.

“The Lord will guide you always…Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairers of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.” – Isaiah 58:11a,12.

“They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.” -Isaiah 61:4

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.” -2 Chronicles 7:14

As it was becoming clear that God was convicting the church to intercede for city, a couple of brothers and sisters from the senior class (Frontline) in Ann Arbor responded by taking the lead on researching community service opportunities for spring break in Detroit. By God’s grace, a team of twelve was established, along with the partnership opportunity with Urban Neighborhood Initiatives (UNI) in southwest Detroit. UNI is a non-profit organization dedicated to building healthy neighborhood environment for families by using the integrative approach of adult and children education, infrastructure development and community housing development. It’s amazing to see how God is moving various organizations to work together to rebuild His city.

Our team chose to work on a community mapping project in the neighborhood. Our task was to walk around the streets of Springwells to document alley murals and houses that were open to trespass, burned or vacant. The information would then be compiled in a database to be sent to the city council so that the city can start demolishing and rebuilding adequate housing. This project was a small part of a greater initiative to help make Detroit a safer place to live and revitalize the neighborhoods.

Our team was very blessed by every little conversation we’ve had with UNI staff and local teen volunteers, as well as every small encounter with Springwells residents on the street. In some of these conversations we were able to learn a little bit about their living conditions and personal dreams. Some of us had a chance to share about our faith and God’s gracious hand in our lives- including how He sovereignly brought us to the University of Michigan. One of the teen volunteers made a decision to sign up to take the GED to pursue higher education after a ten minute conversation with a brother. Throughout the three days we were serving, God really encouraged us through these small interactions.

It was a privilege to be part of a team that was united by our God and to serve alongside brothers and sisters who were hungrily ready to serve and learn more about God’s people. Each day began and ended with corporate worship, prayer and sharing of life stories. We truly praise God for the invaluable moments of prayer-walking with one another, worshipping and sharing during the short car rides, because the beautiful presence of God not only gelled the team together, but also provided the lens for us to see a glimpse of God’s enormous love for His people in Detroit. Look out for the wave that Detroit is riding on!

Harvest Fest 2010

By Kathleen Yi

This past October, HMCC had its first Harvest Fest for the children in our church and their friends. What started out as three moms talking over some coffee about how they wanted an alternative for Halloween for their kids grew into an event greater than we had intended.

Originally, we were only going to invite the children of HMCC to someone’s house and have small activities for them. So, the three moms went on planning various activities and started penciling down some details of the event. However, after a meeting with the some of the Covenant leaders, more ideas were presented such as having all three Covenant groups coming together and also using the event as an evangelistic opportunity.

Rather than a house, the location changed to the Transformation Center and the purpose of the event morphed into an opportunity to reach out into the community, where Covenant members were encouraged to invite families with whom they have relationships. This provided an avenue for many families & married couples to invite their friends to an event that wouldn’t be too intimidating for pre-Christians, as it often is if they were invited to LIFE groups or Sunday Celebration.

On the day of the event, what was so amazing was how so many people were willing to help out with decorating and setting up the Transformation Center for Harvest Fest. From undergraduates to single adults and married couples, all were working together. Different people were in charge of the activity stations, such as pumpkin decorating, cookie decorating, and face painting. Other stations included a photo booth & apple
bobbing, which morphed into a spontaneous game created by some of the undergrad volunteers. It was truly a beautiful sight: people from different life stages using their gifts and talents to serve.

The whole process of Harvest Fest, from its conception to the actual event, was a reminder of how God simply used available hearts and how beautifully the body of Christ is when different parts work together. Harvest Fest really brought all the different life stages of our church together to create something memorable and beautiful. It was so memorable for the children that my oldest son kept talking about it for a whole week! Nothing brings more joy to a parent than seeing his/her child having fun. I can only imagine how God feels when He sees His children working together and having fun while doing it.