Do Something5 min read

“If not us, then who?
If not me and you?
Right now
It’s time for us to do something
If not now, then when?
Will we see an end?
It’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something.”

© Matthew West, Do Something
(from the album Into the Light), 2012.


In celebration of 150 years of blessings to St. John’s, Grand Haven, the church leadership decided to “get out of the building” and began planning “Detroit 2015,” a service opportunity for families. In June, 2015, 56 people traveled to Detroit and helped serve meals, repair buildings, and distribute supplies. They wanted to do something, to show Christ’s love to a hurting community. Janice Korstange, the church secretary, tells us how the mission trip came together.

150 years ago, God brought together some faithful Lutherans in Grand Haven and established St. John’s Lutheran church. Fifty years ago, God gave some members at St. John’s the vision to establish an Endowment Fund. Twenty-five years ago, God called Dan Karlin, a Lutheran school teacher, to Trinity, Utica, and grew in him a compassion for serving the poor and homeless. In 2005, LCMS Youth Ministry was teaching our youth to serve by providing servant events all over the country, and Dan Karlin established “Surf Detroit.” The following year, St. John’s Youth Board made a commitment to offer servant opportunities to our youth, and 2 adults and 5 youth went to “Surf Detroit.” In the years since, there were 3 more trips to serve in Detroit with the youth.

In 2014, in celebration of 150 years of blessings, the church leadership included a mission emphasis in its strategic plan. Several boards collaborated to plan “Detroit 2015” – an opportunity for families to serve together for a fixed number of days. Endowment funds were provided to keep the costs down and allow purchase of food and supplies needed to distribute.

In 2015, the Holy Spirit moved 56 people (eight multi-generational families) to say “yes” to this calling, and several other people made large donations to underwrite the cost of the tour bus, hotel parking, meal expenses, and youth scholarships. Many others were moved to support the mission effort by generously giving and organizing all the donations.

The result? Hundreds of people were served meals and prayed for, and two churches were assisted in completing fix-it-up projects so they can continue to serve those in need in their neighborhoods. In all, 15 sites received help and donations from St. John’s members. Some of the charities served were: Babies R A Blessing; Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (Genesis House III; Oasis); Fort St. Presbyterian Church, Detroit; Gifts For All God’s Children; Life Challenge of Southeastern MI; Project Compassion; Seedplanter Church & Ministries; Trinity Lutheran Church, Utica; Capuchin Soup Kitchen; Christian Guidance Center; Coalition on Temporary Shelter; Crossroads Soup Kitchen; I Am My Brother’s Keeper; NSO Tumaini Center; and Peace Lutheran Church, Detroit.

Click here for photos of the trip (scroll down about 8 rows).

Testimonials from participants:

“… This experience reminded me that I can ‘do something’ wherever I am, not just Detroit, but wherever God plants me and with whomever I come in contact with.” – Patti Kooi

“… The experience humbled my own attitude … I realize that the only reason we are not in the same position as those we met in Detroit is that, by the grace of God, we were not born in that time and place. The fact that we are not in their place is NOT by our own doing.” – Bill Kooi

prayer in hotel room“[It’s] an experience that helps you grow and changes you! What I didn’t expect, however, is how God used us to witness to many through our stay at the hotel—from the front desk staff to the valet staff (…) to the kitchen breakfast staff who hugged us and thanked us for coming to help, to the housekeeping staff in 20-something rooms who daily saw our mission statement and prayer posted on walls in our rooms, to sharing with other guests in the elevators and dining area who were curious as to why we were there … No matter who we are, where we are, or what we are doing, He is able to use us to teach others of His love.” – Ronda Chapman

“‘It’s not about what WE are doing; it’s about the people we are doing the work for, and in Whose name’— a loose quote zeroing in on my feelings about our trip. If not me, then who? If not now, then when?” – Carol Schmidt

“While much of what we read about Detroit focuses on the negatives and the decline of the city, we saw many positive changes taking place. (…) An important part of our trip was having our 11-year-old granddaughters with us. They got to see, first-hand, a different world they had never before seen. It was an experience for them that will hopefully influence their view of mission work in the future. (…) One can truly see the work of the Gospel in the lives of those we served; they now have HOPE.” – Harry Schmidt

“The simple task of making snow cones highlighted our time in Detroit … You could feel their feeling loved, and that felt good. We truly were blessed being a blessing. It made one realize how the small pleasures of life can have such meaning.” – Pastor Rodney & Phyllis Otto

“I went to Detroit ready to share my faith with others while serving them; little did I know that I would be the recipient of these things instead.” – Brenda Chapman

“Why did I go on the mission trip? I know that, according to Jesus, there are always going to be the poor and needy [Mark 14:7a]. I also know that God loves these folks that need help and died for them as much as He died for me. For me and many of the mission trip members, as well as for those who gave or helped in some way, we were not able to witness directly to too many of these people, but we were able to show our faith in Jesus and witness by helping these people, giving them a much needed meal or help in accordance to what James [3:14-17] says.” – Richard Rothe

God doesn’t stop here … He continues to have plans to use each of us to care for and change the world … to “do something.”

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About the Author

Janice Korstange is the church secretary at St. John's Lutheran Church in Grand Haven.

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