I wasnít. I came back to a welcoming, loving, and accepting community that
has carried me through the darkest and scariest time in my life these past
2 years. They have prayed with me, loved me, and have patiently comforted
me in my sorrow of losing the one thing that I had always taken for granted-my
Iíve stayed here, the more Iíve let my roots dig deep into this land of
Detroit. Itís become my home. The problems here are my problems.
The excitements here are my excitements. These people are my people. Their
sorrows are my sorrows. Their joys are my joys. They are my family.
thinking about this, it doesnít make any sense. I mean, think about it:
what does a white girl from middle class Minnesota have anything to do
with a predominantly African American city with rampant poverty? Well,
nothing if you think about it that way. But, if you think about why the
Lord has called me here in a time of brokenness and despair, when I felt
alone and without a family, then it makes absolutely perfect sense.
place of ďbrokenness,Ē is where I have found healing for my soul. I have
experienced Detroit as a place of Hope, despite overwhelming despair everywhere
you may look. I have found Detroit to be a place of rich and abundant relationships
and a place where I belong, where I am home.
My job with
YouthWorks-Detroit gives me the privilege of visiting our youth at their
familiesí homes several times a week. I have encountered the utmost acceptance,
welcome, hospitality, and love into not only their homes, but also their
hearts. They have given me a place in their family.
On one of countless
occasions, on a typical Monday afternoon, I went to one of our high school
girlsí homes. I was sitting on their stairs chatting with a girl from youth
group Iíve known the past couple of years, talking about life, her plans
after high school, her dreams and goals. We hear her mom wake up from a
nap. She was exhausted after working all night. Sheís trying to start her
own business and has been experiencing many setbacks, including a lack
of resources for important pieces of equipment. She was sharing with me
her worries, fears, and how she has been crying out to God to provide for
her. She was feeling at the end of her rope, with hardly a cent to give
for the next due rent, and was on the verge of tears. I felt like I was
supposed to fix her problems, but I was left feeling helpless. I decided
to share with her my own issues and sorrows. I decided to share with her
how Iíve been crying out to God these last 2 years of my family falling
We ended up
praying. Her and her five daughters and I, huddled on the stairway in the
projects in Detroit. Crying out to God. Praising Him. Thanking Him. Asking
for His provision. Asking for His favor. Asking for Him to touch us and
give us strength and Grace to keep following Him. We needed His healing,
feeling broken as we did. Each of us prayed, and as we did, we experienced
Godís presence. He was with us. In the brokenness, He was there. He was
our refuge and anchor.
At the end
of this time together, we laughed as we wiped tears from our eyes.
We rejoiced that God had brought this divine moment together to encourage
and transform us. I left that house knowing their love as only of a familyís
could be. God had provided. He was with us. He was enough for us. He even
gives us a place in His family so we donít ever have to be alone.
He is our Father and we are His children and He will take care of His own.
I grew up in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where I became involved in Saint Paul's
Outreach in 2008 at the University of Minnesota. I participated in Detroit
Summer Outreach in 2009 and had a powerful experience. I came back
in 2011 to do a Gap year in Detroit. From then on, I've been working
in various roles, such as leading the girls' side of the high school youth
group starting on my Gap year and continuing to do so last year and this
year. I have lead the DSO women's household the past two summers and now
I am the Women's Mission Leader of YouthWorks-Detroit.
I have also been doing some teaching and tutoring at a couple different
high schools in Detroit for the last couple of years.
Staff: Top row from left to right: Evan Kresta (Gapper), Camille Chippewa
Ryan Corr (Gapper),
Emily Hoffman (Finances/Urban Encounter); Front Row: Matt Hagen (Gapper),
(Program Director), Anna Bode (Womenís Mission Leader)
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