REALLY GOD? HAZEL PARK?
I was sitting at a church planters conference last fall and out of nowhere it happened-HAZEL PARK… there it was in my journal! All CAPS, zig-zaggy lines around it, highlighted in yellow! No need to ask where it came from, but WHY? That was THE question.
First a little bit of a background to set the stage. I’m follower of Jesus… more and more each day! Trying desperately to reflect Jesus and be His hands and feet and occasionally succeeding. But that hasn’t been the case most of my life. For the biggest part of my adult life I was a good guy, loyal and true to my incredible wife Donna, I love being a dad and was involved with all the stuff that was raising kids (they’re 22 & 24 now). But Jesus was not a part of my life in any significant way until the last seven years. So my being at a church planter’s conference was a stretch. At this point in life, planting a church was NOT something on my radar, but the opportunity to hear some awesome people speak on the topic was too good to pass up. More background! Why Hazel Park? I had NO connection to Hazel Park other than my daughter being a new resident of the city. But that wasn’t it. I went home that evening with Hazel Park burned into my brain. A day, two days, a week passed. Prayers to our awesome God went out constantly asking “Why Hazel Park? And what are we supposed to do there?” He was silent on the details, but He was adamant that Hazel Park SHOULD NOT! WOULD NOT! COULD NOT be ignored. He revealed a few things. Possibly a small church plant or a home church (and that kinda told me why I was at the conference)? But a church plant wasn’t quite it, at least for now that wasn’t it. There was this constant questioning in my prayers and a steady, unshakable thought at the forefront of my mind.
I needed to share the whole Hazel Park thing with my bride of 35 years. She’s heard some pretty off the wall ideas over the years and this one was off the wall for sure. I rambled on as I explained this vague, but simultaneously specific call God had put on my heart. As the words spilled out of my mouth it all sounded so weird, so vague, so out of focus. I began taking drives through Hazel Park to see if I could get some clear direction, if I could hear God tell me specifically what He wanted. Still nothing definite. Another week passed… a month and the unmistakable call to Hazel Park kept on, but NO IDEA WHAT!
Fast forward to early winter. On a cold Saturday morning I received an email completely out of the blue about a meeting at Landmark Community Church… in Hazel Park. It was a planning meeting for a Kensington Spring Serve Project. This Spring Serve would involve building a home for a deserving family. The picture became a bit less fuzzy. The meeting was in Hazel Park, but the home was slated to be built in another city. Through it all God would not let Hazel Park leave my thoughts. Over the next several weeks, through a series of turns and twists (God is SO COOL that way) we arrived at the decision to build the house in Hazel Park…something I knew would happen from that first meeting. The focus was sharpening. Over the next few weeks my wife and I stepped into the role of building community relations in Hazel Park as it related to the home build. One morning, standing under the blast of a hot shower it came to me… a CommuniD BBQ in HP! What better model to build community! I figured we’d do a BBQ over the next 3 months, introduce ourselves to the neighbors, build the house and call it done. NOT! When we talked with Mike after a Wednesday service, and walked through the idea he was in complete agreement with one exception! It would NOT end after the build, with God’s lead it would continue indefinitely. Again the soft focus was sharpened a bit more.
The house is good, a deserving family has been blessed, relationships were started, and God was glorified. Still Hazel Park is a consuming focus for us. We have four BBQs behind us, residents are bringing food to pass (some of whom are recipients of the Landmark food program-pretty awesome), we have a diverse palette of God’s Community coming on the second Saturday of the month, we have baseball games, a volleyball court in need of repair (but with a vision to fix it up), we’re building relationships in Hazel Park… and this is only the beginning! Still unclear where we are going next, the focus is still a bit fuzzy, but the call on our hearts to the City of Hazel Park is just as insistent now as it was many months ago when God first put it on my heart. All of this from a moment in a dark room, listening to God.