“What happens when we die?” asked an eight-year old girl when a Camp Restore Detroit (CRD) volunteer was teaching about the resurrection of Jesus. “All who believe in Jesus Christ will be in heaven with him,” came the answer. How amazing it is to witness this young girl’s attention and eagerness to understand and how wonderful that CRD volunteers could share the Good News of Jesus Christ with her.
This was just one of the many opportunities to share the love of Jesus in word and deed that came to CRD volunteers each and every day during THE BIG WEEK, June 23–29.
As the week approached, over 200 children and community members were getting excited to participate in many ways on the east side of Detroit. These events and ministries included:
- Three vacation Bible schools (Mt. Calvary, Outer Drive Faith, and East Bethlehem);
- Two Sports Camps/VBS (Acts 2 Enterprise and Mt. Calvary);
- Bicycle safety training for each recipient of the 50 bikes that were given away to kids and very surprised and happy adults!
- Various construction and landscaping projects in the 9th Precinct;
- Two community barbeques;
- Toy and clothing giveaway;
- One kid’s night event;
- Community gardens being built on CRD property;
- Various speakers teaching about the community that was being served;
- Daily worship time with the Barefoot Beths, the praise team for the week.
As the first day drew near, however, there were not enough volunteers signed up. CRD staff prayed, made phone calls, and planned. No one knew quite what to expect, but when THE BIG WEEK started, through the grace of God, each day had exactly enough volunteers to work. There was not one extra person, nor was there a shortage to cause something to be cancelled.
Despite the long hours and the 90-degree heat, over 40 volunteers loved being at camp and serving the community. Many of these amazing individuals worked 11+ hour days in order to help meet all the needs. Some would work at a morning and afternoon VBS program, toil at blight clean up or construction, and make it back to CRD to throw on clean clothes in order to make it on time to work with the children at the A2E Sports Camp/VBS in the evening. Every available hand mattered!
What the Volunteers Say
One volunteer father shared, “I grew up on a farm and never had to work as hard as I did at CRD. I couldn’t understand how I had the energy, but it was the best vacation ever! Just sensing God’s presence in the community was worth all the hard work and sweat.”
A young adult volunteer shared, “For me, this was a great week where I was able to show God’s love to the people of Detroit. I have been touched by everyone at CRD as well as the people I served … I was able to see God’s hand at work … it was truly an experience that I will treasure and will come back to help further God’s work in Detroit.”
A mother of five (who all came to camp) reports, “The opportunity to serve [on a mission trip] in our own country is what drove us to CRD. When we arrived, we were blessed in many more ways than we expected. As God’s people joining together to help our brothers and sisters in Christ, God also renewed our family’s connection with Him and with each other. Our children were able to help their ‘neighbor,’ give a hug, exchange a smile, and renew hope for little children at VBS.”
Another volunteer shared, “I loved seeing God work through the community, VBS, and sports leaders. They were great role models and displayed God’s love to each and every person.”
The Community Noticed
The community also took note. One resident shared, “I noticed the recent activity in the neighborhood and all that was happening around the church. It brought hope and encouragement to us to see people at work helping others and the improvements being made by those serving.”
One man said, “The church feels more relevant simply by spending time in and with our community.”
Another man made himself vulnerable enough to ask if CRD can offer reading lessons for adults.
The children delighted in receiving their own picture Bible and other materials to take home so much so that one child exclaimed, “God DOES help us to find joy in the day and I feel joy at VBS!”
It is exciting to see the community take note of all that is going on and to feel comfortable turning to CRD as a beacon of hope, a partner in the community bringing the hope of Christ and helping make Detroit a better place to live.
Thank you to all of the volunteers who made THE BIG WEEK possible. Thanks also to the Michigan District for partnering with CRD to bring THE BIG WEEK to the kids and Detroit. If you are interested in serving Detroit through CRD, there IS something you can do no matter your age (youngest age 10 months, oldest thus far is 82!). There is work appropriate for each person’s interest and ability; you can come for the day or stay overnight. CRD would love to see you at THE BIG WEEK next year—or any of the other 51 weeks of the year!
For more information, visit camprestore.org/detroit.
Photos by Elisa Schulz/Michigan District, LCMS