Reflection from a US-2
Reflection from a US-2
The release of the 2010 Census Data added to the already long list of alarming facts and figures about the demise of Detroit. The New York Times ran an excellent set of articles on the figures, and on Detroit specifically, which I recommend browsing through. What they find is of no surprise to anyone in Detroit: the city is falling apart from the inside out. The population plummeted 25% in the last decade, and about 250,000 people call somewhere else home since 2000.
In the midst of these daunting numbers, the question seems to be: "Where has Detroit gone"? There is definitely a humbled and somber attitude permeating even the most optimistic sources in Detroit. Everyone knew the numbers would be bad, but not this bad. For all the worry about how this will affect federal funding, the biggest blow seems to be to the spirits of those who are striving to reinvent this city and bring some measure of confidence in the capacity of people to create something good out of a void.
I see my dear friends (a young couple who moved from California) in my neighborhood, one creating a homemade church startup, the other working tirelessly to organize youth to stand up to violence in their schools and neighborhoods and to demand that people of authority and power hear their concerns. I see the community of twenty-somethings living in intensive community together, seeking to be a light to the city in their work and involvement in the neighborhood.
I go to work five days and come back a sixth day for worship immersed in a project family, and a faith community dedicated to serving the needs of the homeless of Detroit, resolved to create positive change through building relationships with the forgotten, and seeking peace with justice for all.
I have hope in the strength of those who haven't left this city, and of those who persevere through seemingly insurmountable hardships no child of God should endure. I have confidence in myself and know that I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
If you hear the question asked: "Where has Detroit gone"? Just know that Detroit hasn't gone anywhere--it's still here--and the people who are here are some of the strongest (maybe stubborn-est) people out there. And we will make something of this city together. Pray for us here, but don't pity us, and don't bad-mouth Detroit, especially if you've never been here. There are some really great people here, and true beauty if you can look beyond the devastation. And there is a spirit of shared purpose unlike anywhere else. It is this spirit that will carry us through this. God willing, amen.
Devin Hanson works with the NOAH Project at Central United Methodist Church in Detroit, Michigan. NOAH stands for Networking, Organizing, and Advocating for the Homeless. The project offers a range of services to homeless people in Detroit. He is a US-2, a young adult missionary commissioned to serve for two years. Learn more about Mr. Hanson.