August / September 2017 - Vol. 93
reflections from
Loving Wholeheartedly

by Emily Stanewich

Emily YouthWorks-Debroit
                              2017During the spring of 2016, my love story with Detroit began. I had just gone on my first Urban Encounter in the renaissance city and was blown away by how raw and vulnerable everything and every person was. When I prayed with total strangers, they seemed to pour their heart out to me with such ease and such grace. The people of Detroit I met on that trip were simply unapologetic and real. I admired the how eloquent each and every testimony was that I heard. I was inspired by the genuine humility of people I had the opportunity to speak to. No one attempted to hide the suffering both they and the city had experienced. After that trip, I felt the Lord place a longing for Detroit in my heart. My heartís desire for this city started off small and convenient, however it would blossom dramatically over the course of the next year.

Within my studies of Urban and Regional Planning at Michigan State University, I have declared an informal cognate discipline of city revitalization. Iím fascinated by social science and the study of people and would love to use what I learn to help people in urban areas strengthen their communities and restore the unique beauty of their cities. Due to Detroitís close proximity to East Lansing and significant impact on the development of urban planning, it became a prominent case study we have used in most of my classes. This made my heart swell even greater for the city. I couldnít get enough of documentaries, history books, heck even city almanacs if they were centered around the City of Detroit.

As fall of 2016 rolled around, the Lord had developed my desire for Detroit into a call that would not go unnoticed. During that time I prayed to the Lord about my desire to serve in Detroit Summer Outreach (DSO). I asked Him to renew this desire if it was His will for me to spend my next summer in Detroit or transform it if He had another path in mind. I waited earnestly for a sign and ended up being offered an internship in the city that I would commute to one day a week. I was overjoyed at the prospect of spending more time in Detroit but soon discovered that the tasks I completed while working in a small Midtown office did not resemble the service and interaction with community members I had in mind. I still craved more of Detroit which led me to finally apply for DSO.

This summer, I fell head-over-heels in love with Detroit. You canít truly fall for something unless you delve deeper to uncover whatís below the surface. I needed to discover the good, the bad and the ugly before I could love the Ďrealí Detroit. I didnít want a sugarcoated version of the city and DSO allowed me to dive head first into the rawness Detroit has to offer. This past week I had the most eye-opening experience of my time in DSO. I had the opportunity to assist Sister Judy pass out lunches around the Eastside of Detroit which truly humbled me.  Through this eye-opening experience, I watched as my love story with Detroit had come full-circle in order to teach me a lesson in humility that I sorely needed. I came to Detroit to serve and to love but found that I was served, loved, and taught more than I was ever capable of giving. The Lord blessed me with countless meaningful encounters that striped my empathy down to its core and taught me what it means to love wholeheartedly. Through the Lordís grace, I came to know Detroit in an intimate way this summer and I look forward to falling deeper in love with the city and its people each and every day.

Source: Used with permission.

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