Something incredible is about to happen in Detroit.
This Saturday, 40,000 people from over 500 congregations will gather for a historic prayer walk. Beginning at Comerica Park and walking 2 miles down Woodward Avenue to the Spirit of Detroit statute on the riverfront, Christians throughout metro-Detroit will claim the truth of the verse inscribed on the Municipal Center wall:
Now the Lord is that Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
~2 Corinthians 3:17
Saturday’s prayer walk is the culmination of 40 days of prayer in preparation for a much larger initiative that will work to spread the gospel to over 4.5 million people in the metro-Detroit area. Beginning on Easter Sunday and lasting for 40 days, people will come together to invest over one million hours of service to the city of Detroit through telling stories and doing good deeds. Called Everyone A Chance to Hear (EACH), the initiative began with just one man’s dream!
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking with Pastor Bob Shirock, the founding pastor of EACH. Here’s just a glimpse of our conversation:
Crystal: What makes this particularly needed right now in the city of Detroit?
Bob: About a year ago I was reading Time Magazine’s 2010 Almanac and Detroit got three full pages. The opening sentence in that article said Detroit has become the icon of the failed American city. Then there were three pages of disaster and destruction and ruined buildings. And then the closing sentence I used, and still use, as the challenge that I felt was being put out there:
The world is watching Detroit with interest to see if it can find a way to rise from the ashes.
And I said to pastors, that’s a challenge to Jesus Christ right there. That’s a challenge to the body of Christ to see if, starting with Easter Sunday, the resurrection of Jesus, rising from the ashes, maybe the body of Christ can rise up and in the same 40 days that he walked the earth to show that he was alive and he was powerful and that he could change the world, maybe the body of Christ in those same 40 days could rise up and walk our region in the power of the risen Lord and show our region that we have found a way to rise from the ashes and it’s through our Savior, Jesus.
You know, it’s about the gospel, but it’s also about good works and love and charity and kindness. We have been the icon of the failed American city and we’re about to show the world that it’s different.
Crystal: How can those of us who are outside the metro-Detroit area, who can’t give the man hours during the 40 days, how can we help? What can we do?
Bob:The biggest thing you can do is to pray for our city and for the body of Christ. Then the second thing is, I hope it spreads like wildfire. I hope Detroit can become an icon for the body of Christ successfully coming together to minister to its region. I hope other cities can say, Hey, can we do what Detroit did? That’d be cool.
Crystal: What would you say to someone who called you up and said “Okay, what you’ve done is awesome. Where do I start? How can I do something similar where I am?”
Bob: You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We didn’t! We stole all the best ideas that the Spirit has given to other churches and put them together with our thumbprint. We’ve got a template now. We’ve got a really cool idea for sharing the gospel that’s story-based. We’re training Christians to tell their story. We’ve got a template for the good deeds. We’ve got all the materials, we’ve got training stuff we’ve created – we’ve got all this incredible stuff. What other regions could do – if they could put together a key team or steering committee, and come up here for a day. We’ll just give em all our stuff and say “go” and we’ll consult you from a distance and pray for you and cheer you guys on.
But it starts with leadership. Find a small group of people who are humble enough to lay down their agendas and their differences and are serious enough about unity and the mission that they are willing to come together. Church leaders can be very proud and very protective and very resistant, so if you can find that group of people, we’ll help you do it!
What struck me the most throughout my conversation with Bob was the way the Holy Spirit is working through him and the initiative. It’s no coincidence that they will walk the streets of Detroit the day before we remember Jesus’ triumphant walk into Jerusalem. And the image of a city rising from the ashes just as Jesus rose from the ashes … well that brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.
I know I’ll be watching Detroit over the next 40 days. But more than that, I’ll be praying about how God is calling me to make a difference in the place where I live. Will you join me?
For more information about the EACH Initiative, visit their website.