Brandon Branigan is Outreach Coach for CCC's ARISE Young Adults ministry. He led a mission team to Detroit in July and shares some of the group's experiences here.
“When you keep saying somebody ought to do something creative here, helping the people, and no one else steps up to the challenge, you find out quickly that God is calling you to do it.”
These were the words of Mark Cryderman, lead pastor of The Harbor, a church that has dug its roots in Detroit without a building. After years of pastoring traditional churches in the Detroit/Taylor County Area, Pastor Mark and his wife, Marry, felt called to do something different.
An old school building that belonged to the Detroit Free Methodist Conference was not being used at the time. The idea developed to use it for Sunday brunch services – a gathering that would include breakfast with less-fortunate people in the area, arts and recreation for children, short messages for the kids and adults, and a discussion around the dining table.
A couple of years into this outreach, Mark and Marry noticed that Sundays were not the most popular day in the area for spending time in fellowship and worship. This was when they first felt the call to bring church into the local communities during the week and do church without a building. They realized the people did not need to come to them; they needed to go to the people.
After months of prayer and preparation, a series of weekday dinner services was launched this summer. Our team of 11 from CCC got to participate and lead in these services during the week of July 24-29. When we arrived in Detroit, we shared our plan for arts and recreation with Mark and Marry, and we were delighted to see their joy and their trust in us to lead that effort.
We served in a community center for children/students, a church and a community park. The first day of ministry was long, but filled with joy. We provided games for the children, such as transferring water from one bucket to another with a sponge and “walking the plank.” Our theme for the week was pirates, and one of our members, Tyler Pierce, did an amazing job acting this out.
We could tell that many of the kids had never experienced this type of love before, and often they would latch on to us, which brought great joy. I was blessed to connect with two boys and speak life into them, which I could tell was very important to them. Near the end of the day we shared a meal with the parents and were instructed to lead the discussion at the dinner tables, as well as pray over each parent.
Another team member, Josh Heath, connected with a man so strongly that they exchanged contact information and vowed to keep in touch. There was a moment in which I looked up to see each team member praying over multiple people in the room – what an amazing sight!
Our last day of ministry was the most blessed for many of us. The plan was to spend an entire day in Detroit sightseeing and having fun, but the Lord had another plan. Mark and Marry had connected with a barber in Detroit weeks ago, a man who had built a community park across from his shop as a way to bring positive influence to the area. It just so happened that on that Wednesday morning, they ran into the barber again and they all agreed to do dinner church that day.
We got to witness the first day of a dinner church plant in Detroit! Upon arrival in the park, Josh fired up the grill, Camille prepped the food service station, Florence found a lady to minister to, and all of us spread out to meet the people and spend time in fellowship. Once again, connections were made and long conversations held. We all walked away that night fully convinced that Detroit is not a lost cause, as the media often portrays it, and that God has a huge heart for this city.
Another memorable aspect of the trip was that we got to see something unique in the city every day. Pastor Mark wanted us to walk away saying Detroit is a great city, and he did a great job arranging these excursions, which included a trip to Mexican Town, a visit to the Detroit Museum, a great deep dish pizza place, and a walk along the river where we could see Canada!
The team ended the week with a trip to Cedar Point, Ohio, a theme park with some of the best rides in the U.S.
Our team is so thankful for their heart and the fruit we got to witness this summer. Clearly God is up to something huge in Detroit, and it is a great place to experience.
The CCC Blog is a collection of writings and images from staff members and guest contributors, all pointing to the extraordinary life made possible by a relationship with Jesus.