Mount Calvary Family & Friends,
January in the Church is the season of Epiphany; this year the season extends through February. It’s the time of year we hear readings sharing with us how Jesus showed forth HIS identity as God the Son. It is also the time of year we are reminded of our responsibility as God’s People to show forth in our lives and conversations that Jesus is God’s Son, our Savior. That’s the essence of evangelism, showing Jesus to and sharing Jesus with the other people whose lives intersect with ours in ways great or small. Our Camp Restore Ministry and the different roles we play in the ministry show our Detroit neighbors the love of Jesus at work in our hearts and lives. As we share the story of Jesus’ ministry and its impact on our lives, together with HIS promise to share God’s forgiving grace with them as well, we share the love of Jesus at work in our hearts and lives. That is the essence of “Evangelism,” the “Outreach” ministry of the Church.
We have a Board of Christian Outreach at Mount Calvary to lead our efforts as a congregation, but the responsibility to share God’s gracious gifts with others lies with all of us. Matthew 28:19-20 is often referred to as “The Great Commission” . . . “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” . . . We are “commissioned” by Jesus to go in HIS Name with the message of grace and peace in HIS Name. It can be an awesome and fearful responsibility, thus it is great comfort to hear Jesus’ promise to “be with [us] always!” It can also be an awesome and amazing experience when we see God touch someone else’s life with HIS love and hope in Christ Jesus.
Elizabeth and I are currently working with Debbie Ellinger on a project to reach out to the prostitutes in our neighborhood. We also have a young Baptist pastor, Malcolm Griswold, interested in working with us on the project. Pastor Griswold is actually the one who brought the idea to us originally. We hope to begin in the next few weeks. The Council approved our general plan at its last meeting, only requesting that we move it from our intended Thursday evening plan to Saturday afternoons when there are not generally campers in the building. Members of the Council were generally excited at the prospect of this new outreach effort, but at the same time concerned for the safety of all involved. My own first reaction was that I really didn’t know what to do or how to begin . . . and my plate was already pretty full . . . which is why the first call I made was to Debra Ellinger. Some of you know Debbie from her work with “Gifts For All God’s Children”. Debbie has stepped out to begin a ministry to assist trafficked young women who want off the streets and make a new beginning through her “Ellie’s House Ministry”.
Our plan is to offer a meal, give participants an opportunity to share the struggles in their lives, and introduce the young ladies to God and HIS grace in Christ Jesus. Debbie and her group, and potentially Pastor Griswold, will lead the Bible Study and discussion portions of each meeting. Elizabeth and I will arrange the meal. We are anticipating small groups, probably 3-5 initially and growing to perhaps 10. We anticipate assistance from the Neighborhood Policing Officers (Officer Wade & Company) from the 9th Precinct to provide security for both the young ladies and program leaders, and anyone else in the building. Debbie and her group will also employ the monitoring practices they regularly use to ensure that participants are not free to roam the building and are monitored during their participation in the events.
While I know most of us are already stretching our limits to assist with the needs and opportunities presented by the ministries of Mount Calvary and Camp Restore Detroit, I still should offer: If you would like to help with our new outreach endeavor, or just to learn more about the ministry, please speak to me or to Elizabeth Parrish.
How amazing do you find the many different doors God is opening for us to share HIS Love? I think, “There is no way we can do it all!” Then I remember the words of Saint Paul, “I can do all things through God who strengthens me!” (Philippians 4:13). These ministries God has entrusted to us may be challenges for which you and I indeed are not capable, but as we have seen in all we have accomplished so far, when we find our sufficiency in Christ Jesus HE opens doors and makes a way . . . often that way is opened by surrounding us with brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ from other places. When we are looking for a way, it is good to remember that Jesus is always, “The Way, the Truth, and the Life!” (John 14:6)
God bless you as you serve Jesus in all you say and in all you do!
About The Author
Since 2015, Pastor John Carrier has been Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church's pastor in Detroit, Michigan. He is also the Director for Camp Restore Detroit. Mt. Calvary has a bi-monthly newsletter, which opens with words from Pastor Carrier, called "From The Pastor's Desk..."