February/March 2014 - Vol. 72

Healing for My Soul...

by Anna Bode

I can hardly believe this is my third year working for YouthWorks-Detroit. Itís been 2.5 years since Iíve left the lovely town of Saint Paul, Minnesota. It was a comfortable place filled with family and friends, my home town, my security Ė my life was there. A great deal has changed since moving to Detroit. The greatest change of which was my parentsí shocking and sudden separation during my first Christmas break. I came back to Detroit feeling exhausted, broken, and insecure. I felt anchorless. I felt alone.

But 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 family.

The longer 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. 

When practically 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.

Detroit, a 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 apart.

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.

Bio: 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.

Youth-Works Detroit Staff: Top row from left to right: Evan Kresta (Gapper), Camille Chippewa (Bezalel), 
Ryan Corr (Gapper), Emily Hoffman (Finances/Urban Encounter); Front Row: Matt Hagen (Gapper), 
Chad Shellabarger (Program Director), Anna Bode (Womenís Mission Leader)

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