Sunday, April 17, 2011

Will Detroit rise from the ashes?

Yesterday our family did something a bit unusual.  We walked the streets of Detroit with nearly 25,000 people down a 1.6 mile stretch, starting at Comerica Park (home of the Tigers) down to the Spirit of Detroit, and back.  Now I hate crowds.  Absolutely despise them. In fact, I'm not sure if it is crowds or being cold, especially from raining weather like yesterday, that I hate more. So, what event would make me leave my warm and roomy home?  It was something unprecedented...Christians from all over the area and of varying denominations coming together to pray for a city in despair.

We've been attending Oak Pointe church in Novi for about a year and a half.  Shortly after we started attending, Pastor Bob Shirok shared from his heart how he desired to reach the people of our area with a focused campaign. Soon the effort began to grow and other churches wanted to join.  At this date, over 500 churches in the Southeastern Michigan area are involved.  In the video below, you cannot help but hear the humble heart of Pastor Bob Shirok as he talks about the EACH - Everyone A Chance to Hear - campaign, which was inspired by a friend in Africa, as well as a Time Magazine article about the Detroit.  The Time article spoke of the failure of Detroit opening with, Detroit has become an icon of the failed American city,” and closing with “The world is now watching Detroit with interest – and waiting to see if it finds a way to rise from the ashes.”

EACH 9/7/10 from Oak Pointe Church on Vimeo

I've actually never been on a prayer walk before, so there is nothing like just jumping in with the largest one to ever take place in the area.  I'll be honest, the rain storm while we were driving there was a bit of a downer.  Bleh.  However, by the time we got there, the rain stopped.  Before the walk started...the sun came out.  The rain held off for about three hours during the event and slowly started to pick up at the very end.  Was it a God thing?  You decide.

The crowd gathered at Comerica Park was amazing. Here is a pic my son took before the walk started.

Another pic, by William Archie and featured in a Detroit Free Press article, showing a wide angle.
The event started with some music by local performers, including the Selected of God Choir, featured in recent Chrysler television advertisements.

My son looking over the crowd gathered.  The Fox Theater is in the background. Notice the blue skies?
Then the crowd began the walk down Woodward Avenue to the Spirit of Detroit statue, which has scripture from 2 Corinthains 3:17 engraved on the wall behind it, “Now the Lord is that Spirit, and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty.
Small groups gathered to pray at the Spirit of Detroit.
 It started to drizzle just as we finished our walk.  My husband pulled out his obnoxiously over-sized umbrella so we could stay dry listening to some of the closing music.
I'm glad we attended. There were several things that made this event special...unique.  First of all, never have I seen barriers broken down and churches and people of many different denominations and demographics come together.  I mean, while most quietly walked the streets, some softly singing, not everyone does a prayer walk the same.  And that is ok.  I reminded myself of this as the loudly praying woman behind me had her friend close out her prayer with the sound of a vuvuzala. Afterall, if it is appropriate to sound a vuvuzala in the excitement of soccer game, why not on a prayer walk, even if it isn't my style?

Secondly, this isn't just about a prayer walk.  It is about restoring a city in need.  In conjunction with the EACH campaign, the goal is for these unified churches and Christians to contribute over a million hours of service in the city of Detroit. Thousands of volunteers are expected to provide 10,000 meals a day for 40 days, starting on Easter, in addition to medical and dental clinics, resource fairs, and more.

Will Detroit rise from the ashes? When people and organizations, in the numbers as I saw yesterday, come together with a common goal to heal a city, inviting God into the plan, amazing things can happen. Yes, the world is watching Detroit with interest. Watch on world...I don't think you'll want to miss this.

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