November 2008 - Vol. 24

Pat Dajnowicz's newly painted and refurbished house in Detroit

Compassion that Compels Action

Operation Motown in Detroit meets Pat Dajnowicz

By Joshua Rock

YouthWorks-Detroit is an inner city ministry which seeks to equip youth to love God and others through a life of Christian service and leadership. Through its summer and year-round programs it seeks to serve as a bridge, uniting Christians from different cultures and traditions. Joshua Rock is the Executive Director. He and his wife Yvette and their three children live in Detroit, Michigan, USA and are members of Word of Life, a community of the Sword of the Spirit. Joshua shares some of the recent fruit of their Detroit Summer Outreach program, called Operation Motown. 
Lately, I have been thinking about compassion. In Mark 1:40-42, a man with leprosy comes to Jesus and begs him, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus’ reply is astounding: filled with compassion, Jesus reaches out his hand and touches the man. “I am willing,” he says.  “Be clean!” Immediately, the man is cured. For God, compassion is not merely a deep feeling of empathy with those in need – it is a character trait that leads to action. We see it throughout the Bible, throughout history, and in our own lives: when people cry out to God, he acts. 

I’ve reflected that suffering often seems to be compassion’s seed. Like with a newborn child, it is our need and our helplessness that stirs compassion into action. I want to share an example from this past summer.

It was a beautiful summer afternoon, and while the StreetTeam crews tirelessly served at yet another work project, and the Bezalel Project kids and interns prepared to paint a mural, something new was afoot in the midst of our Detroit Summer Outreach experience: the Operation Motown mission trip had descended upon Detroit. 

On this particular afternoon, the nine high school girls and six staff of Operation Motown found themselves working at Mrs. Pat Dajnowicz’s house, where they would spend the next four days as well.  At first glance, the amount of work before them was daunting: besides needing a new roof (which the mission trip was not permitted to tackle), there was water damage in the ceilings and walls, some rooms needed painting, the yard needed tending, and most of the house’s exterior needed to be scraped and painted.   

In recent years Mrs. Dajnowicz, a hardworking and faithful woman who had served her church throughout her life and raised her own children as well as two she adopted, had experienced some serious health issues, and was no longer able to care for her house as consistently as she desired. When Operation Motown arrived, it was right at God’s perfect timing. 

Staff member Luciana Pessoa 
and Pat Dajnowicz

The ladies got right to work, and daily began to chip away at the tasks before them. They painted Mrs. Dajnowicz’s bedroom, cleaned all the rooms in the house, painted the front hallway and stairs, and spruced up the yard. Then they fixed her doorbell, repaired her broken windows, and replaced every torn screen window they could reach. Through Ed Conlin and our friends at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, the Operation Motown team was even able to provide her with a new box-spring and mattress. They patched up some of the damaged walls and ceilings, repaired portions of her gutters, and began scraping the front of the house. By the time they finished their work on the front porch, they had cut and replaced a number of the facia boards and parts of the porch columns, and added a fresh coat of yellow and red paint so that the exterior now shone cheerfully. 

When Mrs. Dajnowicz returned home, she was amazed, and brought to tears. She humbly said, “I had no idea that God loved me so much – what you have done for me is so wonderful! What did I do to deserve this?  How can I repay you?” She personally thanked the young women on the mission trip, and then the young women took time to pray over her for God’s blessing and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. She experienced the Holy Spirit working in her in a new powerful way, and by the time they finished, she was not the only one in tears, and there were hugs all around. It was a true mission experience – the young women were able to practically and personally share the love of God with a faithful woman in need.

As we serve in Detroit, opportunities for compassion abound. Every person we care for is precious to God and has a unique story and a need to know the truth, especially the truth of God’s love for them shown through the people who come to serve. We are so grateful to be a part of what God is doing here. I am personally grateful for the chance to know Pat and her amazing story and to have witnessed God’s blessings to her this summer. Her story is no different than ours – our greatest need is love – the love shared freely with us by our Father in heaven. We can do nothing to deserve it, and there is no way to repay it. When God sees our suffering and our need, it compels him to action. I want to thank everyone who has been a part of our mission of compassion to the youth and the people of Detroit.

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