Compassion that Compels Action
Operation Motown in Detroit meets Pat Dajnowicz
By Joshua Rock
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.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.
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.
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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