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April / May 2015 - Vol. 79

Detroit Summer
                    Outreach Team 2014
The Adventure in Detroit that Changed my Life
“I have a broken spirit and a shallow love, Lord use me”
by Peter Mayoros

mayoros dso

Detroit Summer Outreach changed my life forever. In Detroit, a city sometimes in great darkness, I was able to see light shining. Light shines the brightest in the greatest darkness, and I came to see that that is why the light of God is so evident in Detroit and that light changed me. 

This light shone through in the work that we did in the city. I worked with the Street Team program this summer. This is a summer work leadership program set up by YouthWorks Detroit, which employs around 25 high-school age youth that live in the city. YouthWorks sponsors workshops to instruct applicants on proper business etiquette, such as how to look and dress for work, how to manage finances, and how to prepare for an interview. Then all the applicants are interviewed and 25 are hired for the program. These 25 youth are then split into separate crews and I was privileged to help lead one of these crews this summer.

I can honestly say that the 6 weeks I worked with this crew were some of the most rewarding of my entire life. I learned how to love others around me and to love these youth. Some of them came from broken home situations where they would live in up to 3 homes throughout a week and some of them came from more stable environments. That is really irrelevant though, because what I saw in these youth, who became my good friends, was what I saw in myself, a very basic need for love. I looked at this opportunity as a chance to be just that, someone who would love them well. That is a good intention but in that attitude is still a little pretentiousness that says I have a lot to give and need nothing. That is where I was blown away because as much love as I attempted to show these youth, I received back a hundredfold.

Every morning as we walked into the building to start the day I was greeted with a chorus of “Peter!” followed by a barrage of hugs. That is what inspired me to go throughout the day, that is what got me out of bed; I did not want to miss that. The work we did sometimes seemed pointless, but the relationships that were formed with these youth, who became my friends, was the gift I received. This summer was all about relationships, with the StreetTeamers, with my fellow interns, and with God. 

The summer began for me with a couple of weeks of training and I was almost a little disappointed. I met a lot of great people and we got to know each other pretty well, and we learned about how to serve and I got a little taste of the service that needed to be done in Detroit. It was nice to get to know all the interns and to grow with them, but I hadn’t come to Detroit for that, I had come to work with the youth. As a whole, the group of interns and staff bonded really well during that time and that would keep us together when we were tired and exhausted during the work-days. I realized that I did learn a lot during training and that helped me in the work that followed.

DSO 2014

One of the most important lessons that I learned was that this is not in any way about me. I am quite a loud and outgoing person with a lot of energy, and I often like to be the center of attention. However, during these first couple of weeks I was not the center of attention and I identified something there, this desire for attention. I knew that it was there, but I found in myself that I evaluated my days by how much attention I received and I decided to change that and instead evaluate my days by how much I had loved others.

The schedule was a pretty exhausting one. We would wake up every morning at 6 am and have breakfast. Then we’d go to morning prayers and then have an hour for meditation, personal prayer, and preparing for the day, before we would head out to work until around 5 pm when we would get back and help set up dinner which was at 6 pm. At night we had small groups, prayer meetings, chores, other activities and occasionally we had free time. This schedule led to some very tiring and exhausting days, and it was then that we needed the most help, from each other and from Jesus.

Morning prayers were vitally important for me this summer. The time in the morning that I would give to God was always the time that gave back to me. When I was able to push through my mental fatigue and exhaustion and engage in prayer I found the ability to focus more on Jesus and then I was able to focus more on others instead of my own fatigue. My small group leader suggested that I have a prayer that I would pray before every morning of work. I thought that was a good idea and I wrote up a long prayer to say every morning. Then the first morning of work I was in morning prayer and a simple prayer came to me: “I have a broken spirit and a shallow love, use me”. That was the prayer that I decided to say every morning and it helped focus me on what was important and forced me to turn myself to God deliberately everyday.

Another way that I was forced to turn to God was through my small group. I was put into a small group where I was the only American and the rest were from different countries. This group was one of the best small groups I have had the pleasure of being a part of. They were the most open and honest group of individuals. From day one, when we shared our testimonies, everyone in the group was real with where they were at in their lives and what they were going through. This continued for the whole summer. When everyone is honest with each other and doesn’t try to hide the fact that they are struggling or going through a difficult time, that brings about an environment where the truth can have an impact. That meant that when we asked questions or gave encouragement or advice the whole group knew that these words came from a place of genuine interest and love for them and that build up a brotherhood between all of us because we knew that we had each others’ backs.

DSO Street Team summer

These relationships were some of the most important that I formed this summer and it was an honor to be able to gain friends of the quality of these men. This was a theme in Detroit this summer, I was blessed by the relationships that I gained. This was true of the guys in the house that we shared, it was true of the women interns that I got to know during the summer, and it was especially true of the youth that worked in the Street Team with us.

These youth in this program were some of the most special individuals that I have had the pleasure of meeting. I built friendships working with them and talking with them about practically everything.

 There are two stories in particular that illustrate for me how lucky I was. The first came early on in the summer when we took a group of the Street Teamers to Pittsburgh to participate in a week long service camp working on underprivileged homes in the area. There I got to spend even more time with these young people and got to know the youth in a way that bonded us together. I worked with one girl in particular, Grace, for the whole week and was really inspired by her attitude. At the end of the week we were honoring everyone in our work group and when she got to honoring me she told me “You are the older brother that I never had and one of the best people I know”. I will never forget that moment when I gained a great friend and a little sister. I heard God in that, I heard him telling me, look at what happens when you give everything, when you offer your life as a sacrifice. I can work through you and surpass your wildest expectations.

The other example that really struck me happened with a young man named Ellington. I really enjoyed him, he was a guy with a great heart, and I had spent a lot of time with him in our work. On the last day of work he had happened to find a wristband with “1 Peter 3:15” written on it and he gave it to me because my name is Peter, and throughout the day he kept telling me: “We are brothers”. It is a really small event, but it had a huge impact on me. God didn’t need me to be in Detroit for the summer, but he wanted me to be there to experience his love, to learn how to give it to others and to receive his love through others.

See related stories from YouthWorks-Detriot >

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