One evening at the beginning of the summer, I sat with a group of interns from around the United States and listened as they answered one simple question: What brought you to Detroit? Why spend 11 weeks of your summer serving a city of people you've never met? The common thread was obvious. God hand-picked each of them "for such a time as this." To serve this city. This summer. I remember sitting in that upper room in Hamtramck, looking around at these faces and being filled with sure expectancy: God was about to release fresh wind and fresh fire over the city. And these faces were going to be a part of it.
Join us on today's blog as two of these interns - Heather and Elizabeth - share a bit of what God taught them this summer.
Jesus' Name Changes Things
- Heather Sullivan -
One of the most powerful things I learned this summer in Detroit was how to pray. Some might say that seems too simple or that it's a small task to fill up 3 months, but it was more than that.
Every time I said Jesus' name in faith, things changed. Whether it was praying for someone to be healed from an injury or for someone to know the Lord, Jesus never failed. A consistent prayer of mine this summer was that people we encountered would know that we were different. I prayed this day in and day out, knowing God had big plans for us. He did.
In our last days in Detroit two mighty miracles happens. The first one was with a restaurant owner that we had been investing in almost daily. Despite this persistence, we had not yet seen any fruit come from it. On our last full day in Hamtramck we decided to eat there one last time to say goodbye. As I was leaving the restaurant, he asked me to pray for him. He told me that he knew that we were different and that when we talked to God, things happened. I prayed for him and knew in that moment that was one of the reasons why I was called to Detroit this summer.
The second miracle was with one of our friends from Bangladesh. Another ministry that we partnered with this summer had been pouring into him for over a year before we met him. He was going through some difficult circumstances and was at a loss for what to do next. We did exactly what Christians are called to do, we loved and prayed for him. We prayed for and loved him every single day of the summer, even when he went back to Bangladesh for a few weeks. We knew God had a really big plan for him, and we got to see it on the very last night that we were in town. That night our friend from Bangladesh gave his life to Jesus.
God showed me this summer that nothing can happen without prayer. Even when we do not see it at first, when we call on Jesus, He moves in powerful ways.
Faithful to the End
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion-to bestow on them a crown of beauty, instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
It almost seems unbelievable to share the testimony of how this scripture was shown true and real this summer in Hamtramck, Michigan. From teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) to Syrian refugees, to pulling weeds, planting seeds, and watering gardens, and to living everyday lives with boldness and love of the Spirit, God showed His promises to us. God never left our side. He guided our every moment.
But it was more than God just directing us. He gave His heart, His eyes, His vision, and His hands to give and heal in every situation and circumstance. Our God is faithful to the end.
As we put in the effort, God put in the energy for us. On a normal day of ministry, we began at 10:00 am and were out until midnight. It was exhausting, and it definitely pushed us to press into God when we wanted to pull back. It was in those times though that God truly revealed himself and His Father heart for me and all His children. He revealed to me His grace and mercy for me like never before. Receiving His grace and mercy in a new way helped me be able to extend the same to others around me.
His strength came daily through His Word, worship, prayer, community, and through His Spirit. From day one, He continually poured out His spirit and favor to us, and it became evident in the city. By faithfully abiding and walking the streets and praying for people and for His Kingdom to come, God shifted the atmosphere.
About halfway through the summer, people knew who we were! We would ask Hamtramck residents if we could pray for them, and they would respond, “Wait! Are you the group from Texas? We’ve heard about you guys. You guys are changing this city.” That is so praiseworthy! All the glory to God because it was His power, love, and faithfulness, not ours, that transformed lives on the streets of Hamtramck.
Looking back on the summer, I can’t help but proclaim that Jesus is alive and healing His children! From broken toes, to infected eyes, and to hearts that use to be filled with lies, Jesus healed and restored people in a way that we never could have done ourselves. Through the Holy Spirit, people’s heart were healed so that they were able to see the truth of Jesus Christ and accept Him as their Lord and Savior. Because of the Lord's faithfulness, the 11 weeks this summer in Hamtramck were an unbelievable and indescribable experience.
I encourage you all to listen and obey the Spirit and go with faith when He speaks, because there are no qualifications for being a missionary. God will equip and provide for you always, and he'll teach you so much as you walk faithfully with him.
About the Authors: Heather hails from Baton Rouge, LA, where she serves on the student council of LSU. Elizabeth is from Tyler, TX, where she is learning to hear the voice of God and lean into him to direct her future. Heather and Elizabeth gave up their summer and said "yes" to all God had for them in Hamtramck.
(Intro by Ana Lossing)