December 2012 - Vol.  64

The Fab-5 from YouthWorks-Detroit (Martin center)
A Broken Man and a Broken City 
by Martin Jordan

It amazes me to think that I have been in Detroit serving with YouthWorks Detroit for almost half a year now. Yet what amazes me more is recalling the numerous ways in which I have seen God at work in this city. This sign of hope which I have seen here stirs in me a personal hope of what God is about in my life as well.

I came here with some prior knowledge of Detroit. I felt like I knew the city because I knew many people who had come here before. My brother Andy’s life was changed by coming here (see Andy's story) and I had been warned that going to Detroit with the mindset of changing the city was the wrong approach. I never thought I was going to change it but I remained a proud man nonetheless.

Even as I look over the previous paragraph I notice the number of times I talk about myself and what I can do. I don’t think that’s what the Christian life is about. The Lord calls for less of ourselves and more of him. There’s a famous Christian song that says, “If our God is for us, then who could ever stop us.” This verse comes from Romans 8, and it’s true to the extent that we are on the same side of the battlefield as our Lord Jesus Christ. I tend to take the approach that we should be for God rather than God being for us. The truth is he is our strength and we are not his strength. He chooses to manifest his strength in us if we cooperate with him.

I don’t have any real strength in myself. If my actions are a projection of my own character then my character is very flawed. The only reason for my character being flawed is that my heart is hard. I sin. I miss the mark, or rather, I hit the wrong mark. Yet in the face of my weaknesses I’ve seen the Lord use me when I’m open to him. Why? Because he wants my heart and he wants his city back. In Psalm 37 it says “delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” What I desire is to be more like Christ. I think Detroit desires the same. Perhaps we are not delighted enough in the Lord yet. He wants more.
The motto of the city of Detroit is “Speramus meliora; resurget cineribus”. This means “We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes.” Ash is not attractive. It is dirty and leaves a mark on anything that comes into contact with it. What is attractive about ash is the thing which it once was and the thing it has the potential to be. When ash re-enters the earth it returns nutrients to the ground and makes it more fertile. Life springs up and beauty is given a chance to be perceived. We see beauty and we hope for beauty because that beauty is a reflection of God’s own glory.

I feel in some way that my own fate is tied to the fate of my beloved city. If I cannot rise from the ashes that I have created for myself then how can I hope for my city to rise from its own ashes? God never wanted a stupid, broken Scottish boy to come over and add to the problem. What he wanted was that stupid, broken Scottish boy to take on his character and show that to his people. As Christians I believe that we are called to be a sign of this “hope for better things.” If I can’t do that then what’s the point in me being here? If I do not rely on God then I am not capable of working with youth; I’m not capable of working with the homeless; I’m not capable of being the light that the Lord intends me to be. I have nothing and the Lord has everything. So if a broken man and a broken city can let the Lord abide in them, then I believe that they will truly grow, mature, and have everything they need.

Martin Jordan, 21, hails from Glasgow, Scotland, loves piano, football, and philosophy, and will finish his honors college degree once he completes his Standing in the Gap year and returns to University. Martin is the third brother from his family to serve significant time in Detroit, and is a bold and faithful witness to the good news about Jesus to the youth in Detroit.

Speramus Meliora
A man:
I will hope for better things
I will trust and will not be afraid
I will give until it hurts
Then I'll give some more
This fight was never mine to win
This battle belongs to someone higher
But waves will come and quench the thirst
Of mouths that are scorched by the fire
A broken man can't mend himself
Never mind mending a metropolis
We strive to rise but still we falter
As the world weighs heavy on top of us
The sun will rise in the morning
And shine solace to those in the night
We will hope for better things
A City:
If you've come to help me
Then you're wasting your time
But let us struggle together
If our fates are intertwined

A burden borne together
Makes a lighter load for us both
And a shoot will seek the sunlight
Just as we will seek the truth

We've made mistakes
But press on till we rise
Resurgent cineribus
As we find power from on high

A broken man can't fix himself
Never mind fixing a city
But if he bows and shares the blows
Of a people enslaved by the world
The Son will rise in the morning
And shine solace to those in the night
We will hope
We will hope
For better things

poem by Martin Jordan

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