I love working for a nonprofit.
In the business world, anyone who is working in the same field as you are is considered competition. When it comes to nonprofits though, they are partners and friends working toward a similar goal. Often times it is easy to call up a person or a group and say, “Hey, I want to learn more about what you do!” To which they reply, “Come on over.”
Such was the case with my time at The HUB of Detroit. If you were to create a short list of people who are doing good work in the Cass Community, the HUB would be on it. The HUB takes bike donations, does repairs and sells them at low cost back to people in the community. Additionally, they teach classes to students about how to take care of a bike, and once a student finishes their classes, they recieve a free bike. Adults who need a bike or parts for their bike can come, donate time, and upon completion recieve the bike parts that they need. It is a program that has been largely successful and has helped countless people with reliable and affordable transportation.
I emailed this HUB through their website and asked if anyone had anytime to sit down and talk. I recieved a reply from Jason Fiedler, and we made plans for Monday.
The HUB is located only a couple of blocks from our Second and Selden Barbecues and Awakenings Movement, a new church plant meeting in the DSA, one of our partners. I pulled up and knocked on the door–a heavy metal door with a map of the Cass Community painted on it by hand. After a mintue the door opened, “Cole?”
“Yes.” I replied.
Jason pushed the door open and we walked in. He offered to give me a tour of the place. Through several more locked metal doors he took me through the shop that is the store-front, the storage, where they keep their donated bikes, the room where they strip the bikes, the room that is holding the 100+ bikes they are giving away for Christmas and finally the workspace where they teach classes every week.
The place is big, old, drafty and cold. I was expecting something else entirely and was underequipt in my flip flops. Jason, across the table from me, wore a coat, scarf, and gloves.
We talked for a while about the history of the HUB, what they set out to do and how they felt like they were accomplishing those goals. I asked if he had any clue how many bikes they had given away since they started. He was unsure, but knows that they’ve given away 500 kids bikes in the past two years because he decided to start keeping track, but as far as adult bikes, he didn’t know.
From there we talked about the hurdles they are working on: keeping stock, the inability to do pick-ups (since few of the people who work there own cars), and general funding problems. We also tossed around a couple of possibilities as far as projects, ideas and things that we could partner on. I am excited about those options and I am sure will be writing more about those soon.
I left the HUB confident, a little more informed and, again, just excited about the people that God has called up in this city to do great work for a people in need.
I spent this afternoon at the CommuniD BBQ in Detroit. It’s August 13th, 2011. Today’s high is 80°F. Mostly sunny. It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
Today I met a man named Mack. Scratch that… today I met a friend named Mack. I’ve actually met him many times before, but never remembered his name. After today, I will never forget his name.
Mack is 26 years old. He will turn 27 on October 1st. Mack is African-American. He is probably 5′ 10″ tall; a little heavier than average build. He’s a good size to hug. Mack has a sweetness about him. It’s a childlike innocence. To meet Mack is to like him. To talk with him is to love him. I cannot help, but see Christ in his smile. It’s beautiful. He is beautiful.
Mack is currently homeless. Mack stays in a shelter in Cass Corridor. Mack comes to the CommuniD BBQs just about every week. He has for some time.
Today Mack read me a song he wrote. He has chords written out and everything. The song is called Outreach Love. Mack wrote Outreach Love to describe his experiences at CommuniD BBQs at 2nd & Selden.
I hope to be able to post the lyrics to his song soon. For now, I’ll say two things about it:
1. I was in tears after hearing it.
2. The only line I remember goes something like, “No one looks at me like I’m broken.”
To anyone who may read this… success. If the last four plus years of BBQs through winter and summer alike had no other benefit whatsoever, but to give Mack the experience of being seen by God as not being broken… success. Because in Christ, Mack is made whole. In Christ, I am made whole. In Christ, Mack is not broken. In Christ, I am not broken. In Christ, Mack is healed of his brokenness. In Christ, we are all healed of our brokenness.
Thank you for Christ. Thank you for Mack. Thank you for Christ in Mack. And thank you for Christ in me. Thank you for healing our brokenness through Christ and His body… us.
I hope to post full lyrics to Outreach Love soon.
P.S. Get ready for one SERIOUS birthday party on October 1st.
Written by Mike Schmitt
Last Tuesday was a fantastic afternoon. 50 students and leaders from Detroit Reverse walked from Wayne State to 2nd & Selden. There were about 250 people at the BBQ total. A homeless man named David helped show about 5 students how to grill and together they cooked the food for everyone. All told there were 400 hot dogs and 240 hamburgers cooked and eaten by everyone there.
All of the students did an awesome job connecting with people and engaging in conversations all over the park. It was both encouraging and inspiring to see kids from the city and suburbs alike side by side moving, doing and loving in the Kingdom of God in Detroit. If those students are at all a sign of things to come, this city and region are in for much greater things than this.
What started 4 years ago as a wild idea thrown out amongst friends was met with a shrug and a “let’s try it.” We had no idea what God had in mind.
Today that wild idea has transformed into a movement of the Holy Spirit that is helping to reshape the way you, I and a lot of our brothers and sisters in Christ see the world, our region and most importantly, God’s people. None of it would happen without every one of you stepping up in all sorts of roles and helping wherever God calls us.
I am so honored to serve our precious Christ alongside each of you. Truly, thank you for obeying your calling, joining arms with each other and myself and fighting the dark one for the hearts and lives of God’s people and God’s city.
1 of 2 Posts of Thoughts on the Detroit Reverse BBQ last Tuesday…
I dropped my truck and the green trailer off at the park Tuesday morning at about 8:30. I recognized a man (unfortunately I can’t remember his name) talking to a woman from coming to the BBQs pretty often. I went over to say Hi to them, make sure they knew about the BBQ that afternoon and ask them to look after my car while I was gone.
Upon walking up to the pair, before I could even say anything, the man asked me if the BBQ was that morning or in the afternoon. I told him the afternoon. He asked what I was doing there already. I told him I was just leaving the vehicles there and that I had to go to Wayne State for awhile before I’d be back for the BBQ. He said, “Well you don’t need to worry man. We’ll watch your @#$! for you. No one’s going to mess with it. We just finished sweeping the park up getting ready for you guys (at which point he pointed to the large pile of dirt next to him that had clearly just been swept). We picked up the trash too, but you know how people trash it around here. It’s picked up for now though.” He went on to point to a truck parked along 2nd Street and said, “Mama and Papa are over there working on fixing the benches too. You know they’re the ones that are always fixing the wood on all these benches for you guys.”
Now, go back and read that last paragraph again. Let the implications sink deep into your thoughts and hearts. A homeless man was at that park with a broom early enough to have finished sweeping it by 8:30 in the morning. Why? To clean the park up for “us.” And he wasn’t alone. There was another man and woman there working on replacing the wood on benches over by the tables. Again, why? For “us.”
Let us not think for a moment that we from mostly white suburban churches are the only ones working at resurrecting Cass Corridor or any other place we go. Let us never forget that we who don’t live in that neighborhood are the guests. We’re the guests. The homeless man is not a guest at a BBQ. He is the host. We are the guests coming over to a friend’s home and bringing something to share at the Kingdom party that our friend is hosting every Saturday.
I’m so excited today is finally here!
We’re planning an outdoor family style dinner in late December in Detroit. From a logical perspective, from a rational perspective, it’s a dumb idea at best. From a Kingdom perspective… well I think it’s a Kingdom idea.
The idea is to have a family style sit down dinner. This isn’t us serving them. This is all of God’s family sitting at a common table and sharing a meal together in celebration of Christ. Christmas. It’s what the word truly means… celebration of Christ.
Close your eyes for a moment and just picture the park… The gazebo with holes rusted all over the roof. The light poles with no lights on top. The tags sprawling across the building wall. The dolphin.
It’s a place known in the neighborhood for crack and heroine dealing. It’s a violent place. A vile place. It’s a place I’ve been told that many neighborhood people won’t come unless “you’re here”. It’s a place I’ve been told that, “White people don’t belong here.” It’s a stronghold of a defeated enemy. And it’s being redeemed.
This is Christmas Day. Today there will be strings of lights and Christmas decorations. There will be tables all pushed together into one BIG table. There will be chairs lining all the way around. Hot food aplenty sprawling before our eyes and hungry bellies. Every color of person created (yes, even white people), every income level, every education level, every strength, every weakness, every addiction, every habit, good and bad, all beckoned to come sit together and share a common meal in celebration of our newly born and now risen Lord Jesus.
I don’t know what heaven will be like. I don’t know what God’s Kingdom looks like in its fullness. I hope we’ll be able to fly. That would be fun. But I do know that whatever it looks like… today we shall see a reflection… Yes, we shall see a reflection of Heaven. That reflection won’t be in rusty gazebo roofs, broken lamp posts or cement statues of oceanic mammals. It won’t be in strings of lights or piles of snow or sidewalk salt. It won’t be in decorated cookies or trees and it won’t be in pots of ham or green beans or dinner rolls. The reflection we’ll see will be in the eyes and hearts of every person around that table. Every glint of hope and faith and love in every eye glowing all the brighter as glint sees glint and love flows evermore like a fountain of life. We may not see what Heaven will look like. But in fleeting moments… if we’re paying attention… we’ll know what it feels like.
Grace and peace to each of you. It’s a deep honor to serve, love and celebrate Christ alongside each you. Truly… Merry Christ Mass