|Posted by Baltimore Lutheran Campus Ministry on March 23, 2018 at 12:15 AM|
We started our day at Rippling Hope- with some folks finishing up building a wall at our house from yesterday They were pretty much beaming with pride when it was done and I understand why- our students built a wall by themselves!
The rest of us helped take down some shelves from Rippling Hope’s former headquarters in a church so they could install it in their new headquarters- a former bank building that was donated to them. (We got to explore the safe and the safety deposit boxes!) And then we cleaned up sticks to keep the bank building property in good shape. It wasn’t glamorous work, but we are helping make the space ready to welcome groups like us when the weather get warmer. And we are helping Carl and his wife Robin welcome others as warmly as they have welcomed us. And that stuff matters.
Carl also shared with us a little more about how crucial Rippling Hope’s work is even in neighborhoods that are stable. Many of the folks in Detroit are long-term homeowners who are elderly. When they pass away, sometimes their homes are left vacant when family doesn’t want to keep them up. Other times family moves in and are often not positive forces in the neighborhood. Once a few houses are left vacant, people are less likely to move into that neighborhood and it can easily turn the tide of the entire community. The small work we do to help keep up homes has ripples we can’t imagine.
And Carl reminded us that just our coming here to hear people’s stories and walk along beside them for awhile brings hope. And reminds people that they are not forgotten. Being neighbors to one another matters. Listening to each other matters. Changing others’ ideas about Detroit matters.
And that’s a good thing to hear as we left this afternoon. These trips are full and exhausting and we’re ready to go home, but they also seem too short to make any difference. They seem too short to hear people’s stories well. They seem too short to matter, sometimes. So it was good to be reminded that the hope we receive and the hope we bring ripples outward.
This afternoon we headed back to Pittsburgh (with some of us stopping at North America’s largest candy store on the way) and got back to the Lutheran University Center, where Pastor Brian and the students fed us and let us join in a service of Holden Evening Prayer. We heard the words of Jesus that remind us to take up our cross and follow. And the Lutheran University Center has a cross that has people sitting inside it and on it. Tonight I imagine the folks we met in Detroit in that cross- that cross that calls us to risk for the sake of love and life. We didn't meet perfect people, but we met people who are willing to take risks for the life of their city.
Later our group shared the stories that we will bring back with us this week:
• Making beauty out of discarded items in the Heidelberg Project
• Seeing their story in the folks we met at Church of the Messiah and being inspired by what God is doing there.
• Having their perception of Detroit radically changed and being called to tell that story
• and hopefully return
• The resilience of the people of Detroit and their way of “making a way of out of no way”- taking things on themselves when government and industry doesn’t
And we prayed together- with one of our students so excited to have the words to the Lord’s Prayer in front of him so he could finally pray the whole thing with us. And our students lifted up the needs of the world and the names of those we met this week. The ones who feel like family. The ones for whom we thank God. The ones we hope God will keep working through powerfully.
As we say goodbye to Detroit and head home, we bring part of the hope with us to a place not unlike Detroit. So often this week we talked about the similarities (and differences) between Baltimore and Detroit. So we know that we go back to some of the same problems. But we also go back to some inspiring people who are bringing hope in places that need it. And our job is to seek them out, amplify their work and follow their lead. God’s up to stuff in Baltimore, too. And hopefully God will use us well in that work.