The Story of a Brick — God’s Endgame3 min read

Four years ago, Michigan in Touch published an article of faith, prayer, and hope from our little mission congregation in Southwest Detroit called Family of God. One of the buildings next door to the mission had become a drug house, so we prayed and made phone calls, and eventually the building was leveled. The article read: The members of Family of God praised God and took 24 bricks from the rubble. We gave them to each of the congregations and teams who had prayed with a simple message: ‘Pray, because if God can tear down a crack house, He can build a mission.’ God answers prayer.

Family of God continued to do ministry in the neighborhood, but we had outgrown our space. In November/December of 2015, 14 congregations and individuals, including the Michigan District Church Extension Fund, answered our appeal and purchased South West United Presbyterian church. In February of 2016 we dedicated the building to house our ministry and were debt free.

One of the first things we decided to do with the new space was to dedicate a portion and offer it free of charge to the Luke Project 52 Clinic prenatal ministry. Its relational approach to ministry and care for the poor and disadvantaged resonated with our own goals and objectives. As we modified the facility to fit their needs, we have seen the Luke Project 52 Clinic develop and grow into a thriving ministry. Today the clinic, under the direction of Rev. Brad Garrison, provides care to over 300 clients, seeing 24 mothers each Tuesday and Thursday.

Family of God had “arrived,” or so we thought. We had all the room to do ministry that we so desperately needed—minus the old sanctuary upstairs. Twelve months later, we found ourselves overflowing several times a month both at meal times (6 days a week) and worship. We also felt a strong desire to be able to do Word and Sacrament in a sacred space that didn’t double as a dining room. We also faced a significant change in the clientele. In addition to the drug and alcohol-addicted and homeless in the neighborhood, we began to reach families and children. Tutoring, mentoring, and other opportunities required dedicated space. It was time to grow again.

God works in ways that are not always as apparent or as direct as we would like. Back in 2014, we first contacted Lutheran Church Extension Fund in St. Louis, trying to raise our ministry profile beyond the Michigan District. They visited our ministry several times over the years. Over time, they “adopted” our ministry and, when the time was right, not only helped us apply for the Laborers for Christ project but also sponsored it, and waived the administrative costs. We can’t say enough about the godliness and professional skills of the four workers.

Our architect estimated the sanctuary renovation would cost $76,000; our Board set a cap of $50,000, and I believed we could do it for $30,000. Volunteers from several congregations, especially Christ Our Savior, Livonia; Trinity, Clinton Township; Shepherd’s Gate, Shelby Twp; and Living Word, Rochester came together and completed the demolition before the laborers arrived on site. Laborers and volunteers reused materials and donated labor, which allowed the job to be finished for under $20,000. Supporting churches and donors made it possible to complete the effort debt free. Trinity, Clinton Township donated an altar, and Cross of Christ, Bloomfield Hills donated several of the other furnishings, including the eternal light. Many of the bricks we had given away were recovered and installed under the first step of the renovated chancel at Family of God. God keeps His promises and He answers prayer.

A dedication service was held on March 28, 2018, and on Easter Sunday they worshiped in their newly renovated sanctuary. Come and see.


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About the Author

Rev. James M. Hill is associate pastor of Christ Our Savior, Livonia and deployed to Family of God, Detroit. He has been doing inner city ministry as layman, deacon, vicar, and pastor since 1997. He is a retired Army officer and also retired program manager from General Dynamics.

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