There has been a lot going on at Elevate Detroit in the past week. I am going to be posting several updates in a row to catch you up on all of our newest developments!
Last Tuesday night Elevate Detroit was featured on a local television show called Chizzy C.A.M.(Charity, Arts and Music). Chizzy CAM brings in guests from the Detroit area who are working to make a difference in the city. We were asked to do a barbecue outside of U-Detroit Café, where Chizzy CAM is filmed, but we arrived and realized the rain was going to keep us inside.
Mike, myself and others were interviewed about the things that the barbecues were doing in the city, what our plans were for the future, etc. It was a great night. We were able to make contact with Brother Al who I talked to at length about the work that he is doing for the homeless in the city as well. That man is a servant for God!
You can watch the whole interview and video here: http://www.ustream.tv/embed/recorded/18689737
This past Saturday I walked down to Robert Redmond Park at 2nd & Selden in Detroit’s Cass Corridor.
I started talking to a man named Ken in front of the park. Ken was walking down Selden with a back pack and a tired expression on his face. I asked how he was doing, and he simply said “I’ve had better days.” I understood that saying well, not knowing the reason behind his response. I inquired in the most sincere way I could convey. Ken went on to share a story I wasn’t expecting. Ken’s apartment and everything he owns in it was lost in a fire just a week ago Friday. He explained that his drunk neighbor had accidentally started a fire in the apartment above him. The ceiling then fell in and set fire to his apartment. Ken said, “I was just concerned about getting outta there.” He grabbed what clothes he could find, a bag and his dog came with him. At this point, I could only nod and apologize for his recent tragedy. I asked where his dog is now. Ken said, “He’s at my friends house, ran away twice now because he’s scared of that place, but he’s ok now.” Ken shared how thankful he was, that his girlfriend wasn’t with him that night, and that he’s safe, that his dog’s safe.
He went on to explain the hassle of contacting shelters and help agency’s around the city looking for help. His frustration in a system that expects him to have his I.D birth certificate or social security card before they will help. This man lost all his material possessions a week ago and needs a roof over his head.
The sympathy in my heart, I could only attempt to convey with body language. I asked him, “Do you see God in any of this, and if so…how?” He paused and replied, “Man faith is all I do have now, literally…I have nothing else but these clothes on my back.” I said “And your dog.” We both laughed. For a man that just lost everything he owns, he sounded…thankful for what little he does have.
I asked if he was hanging around the park for awhile to get something to eat. He said, “Yeah, yeah I plan on it.” Before I left the park I waved and smiled at Ken, and he did the same.
If I were that man, would I say the same? Would I remind myself of the faith I have, or focus on what I lost?
– Alexander Tourtillott
With all the preparations and hard work that goes into the CommuniD BBQ I thought everyone should take a moment, take a deep breath and get ready to join in the celebration with us and in heaven.
We have started setting up a prayer table in the southeast corner of the park at Second and Selden this past Saturday. We were unsure how it would go or be received by those in the community, but if anything is worth a shot, it’s prayer.
On its first official day a man named Michael walked up. He wanted to pray for the strength and confidence to do the right things with his money. He laughed and reassured us that he didn’t have a lot. In the past he had given to the church but recently was using it for more destructive things. He had even gone as far as to have anointing oil poured over his wallet.
As the conversation progressed it became clear that Michael was sober but under the impression that he was saved because he gave money to the church. “God doesn’t want your money,” we said. “He wants your heart.”
We could tell by Michael’s initial reaction that he was stunned and a bit curious. This gave way to a sense of disappointment because he was counting on that as a means of atonement. We talked to Michael about the message of the gospel and his reply was “I want that.”
We prayed with Michael. He renounced his old life and told God he wanted to be a new man because of what Jesus did on the cross. When he had finished this prayer he started stumbling backwards saying “I feel it, I feel it!”
We gave him a Bible, read a couple more scriptures with him and continued our conversation. As we wrapped up, Michael jumped on his bike and rode away shouting for joy and pumping his fist in the air.
What an awesome way to start a new prayer team! We created a list that day of people and needs in the community to pray for. The prayer table, chairs and materials will be staying in the green trailer. Needless to say, we’re going to keep it going.
– Story by Scott Wakefield
On Saturday, August 27th, I met a man named Charles.
We were at the Detroit CommuniD BBQ location. The lines were long and people were starting to get impatient. A few of us decided to grab some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and hand them out down the line to appease the crowd a bit.
I handed a man one of the sandwiches, to which he replied, “Hey! Where is the meat?”
I quickly fired back, in a humorous fashion, “Don’t complain, its free.”
“Hey!“ he said, a big smile crossed his face. “I like you.” This led to some fun conversation between him, a few others and myself. Eventually I continued to move back down the line. The barbecue was a success as usual. We fed around one hundred people and enjoyed the afternoon with our friends at the park.
Later that afternoon, as things were winding down, Charles walked toward his bike to leave. I came up beside him and thanked him for coming. “I really like how cool you are with everyone down here, you seem so real and genuine. Where do you go to church?” he asked. I told him. “So, you’re all religious people?”
“I don’t think that I am religious.” I responded. “I just have a relationship with God. I talk and pray to God all the time. I am not restricted to rules and regulations I just love Jesus and that is why I do what I do.”
Charles began to really unload on me. He started to share with me about addictions that he has and how he wants to be free from these addictions. He said he believes in God and Jesus but never really knew what to do with all of it. I told him that Jesus can free him from those addictions and change his life around.
I told him that I didn’t always live like I do now and that I have sin and struggles in my life too. I told him that living for God is a daily thing that we have to work at and commit to. I shared some of the testimonies of people in my life that I know that have been freed from addictions by Jesus.
“I really do want to be better,” he said. “But when I went to church a couple times it was so uncomfortable. I really didn’t understand it and how this Jesus thing works.” I asked him If I could pray with him and he agreed. Charles and I took each others hands and I thanked God for Charles and for his life. I thanked God for Charles’s desire to seek him. I prayed for the spirit of addiction to be removed from Charles’s life and for his heart to soften and open to the work God is going to do in his life. I asked God to give Charles ears to hear and eyes to see exactly what he wants him to see. I thanked God for our time together and for the work he is doing in mine and Charles lives.
“I want to thank you for something,” he said. “I want to thank you for showing me how to pray. If I got anything out of today it was learning to pray, thank you.” I told Charles that he can pray anytime and anywhere for anything and God is listening. I then told Charles if he wanted to he could pray right now to ask Jesus into his life. He told me that he wanted to. We joined hands again and Charles prayed for Jesus to forgive him and to come into his life. He also thanked him for his family and the things in his life. He told God that he wanted to do better in his life.
We finished, and with child-like eyes Charles said, “I can’t wait to pray tonight at home! And…and… I want to pray every single day from now on!”
He said he can’t wait to come back and tell me how well he is doing with his drug addiction. I told him that I pray the drugs begin to make him feel sick when he uses them and that the Holy Spirit convicts him when he has drugs around him. I also told him that I pray those people that he uses drugs with start to fall out of his life and good people come into his life to make him better.
Charles and I hugged and he rode off on his bike towards home.
-Story by Heather VanSweringen
elevateDetroit newsletter – CommuniD BBQs, A Little Grace and more
It’s been a long time since we’ve sent out an e-mail newsletter (just over two years in fact!), but we just sent one out. We’re going to start sending them regularly once again. If you’d like to get on our e-mail database, let us know.
Let me introduce you to Amanda Vizzini. Amanda is basically awesome. Basically. Amanda is married to Derick. Derick and Amanda live in Troy. They have a great little boy named Aiden. Amanda has been running a ministry called A Little Grace for a couple years now.
A Little Grace partnered with elevate Detroit and the CommuniD BBQs in September 2010. By November, they were the point people for the 4th Saturday events in Detroit. In December, A Little Grace began Dinner in the D.* In June elevate Detroit began partnering with A Little Grace for Dinner in the D.
After much prayer, thought and wise counsel elevate Detroit and A Little Grace have officially (and legally) merged forces. A Little Grace is what we will continue to call the global side of things (our 1st Haiti trip will take place this November) and elevate Detroit will continue to be local. Together we can do much more for the Kingdom of God than apart.
As elevate Detroit continues to grow, we are continuing to start more CommuniD BBQs as well as beginning to plan other types of community events that connect people to Christ. We are also well under way in laying the groundwork for a three phase fundraising campaign (which will begin this Fall) to open up the Dandelions Café and community house. As things develop and grow, so does the number of people involved.
Amanda and I are now partners in this work. As things progress, you will be receiving e-mails, phone calls and creepy stalker voicemails from Amanda (as well as possibly others) from time to time. I know you all will show her the same crazy love and ridiculous support you’ve shown me as we’ve ventured into this great unknown together.
Thank you so much for your partnership and brotherhood/sisterhood in this work in the Kingdom of God!
elevate Detroit — Creating Communities that Connect People to Christ.
* The idea of Dinner in the D is similar to CommuniD BBQs. Dinner in the D happens during the week and centers more on a partnership with a specific local church within the city of Detroit. Dinner in the D is on a much smaller scale than the CommuniD BBQs and is easy for a small group to adopt one day a month. For more information on helping make Dinner in the D happen, reply or call Mike or Amanda.
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
Some of you may have seen the tweet from @lindseymfischer that looked something like this:
Here’s a picture of brother Fred praying with her. This is what it’s ALL ABOUT! Here’s a homeless friend of ours, a brother in Christ called into ministry by the Spirit, leading a little girl into a relationship with Christ on an August afternoon. We are blessed beyond measure to be a part of the movement of the Spirit of God in our city!!
Thank you, LORD!!