By Emily Morss:
I had a lot of ideas about Detroit before ever coming here. I thought it was bitter, defensive, and hopeless – too proud to ask for help, and too preoccupied to receive it. I thought Detroit was a lost cause, and wasn’t sure the city believed anything positive about itself.
What’s funny is that, even with these crazy ideas, which were eventually proved wrong, I felt drawn to the city anyway. I wanted to help, but didn’t know where to start, and didn’t know how to reach anyone. My preconceptions didn’t help either. Luckily, a starting point appeared in the form of Avalon Bread Company, which generously began donating loaves of bread to my church, Real Church Detroit. We decided to take the bread to local communities to help families out, spreading hope and generating good, quality conversations.
Being in a city known for violence, crime, and decay, I was a little scared at first. But what I’ve come to understand is that Detroit is a city built on dreams and determination. What looks hopeless at first is actually full of hope. What looks decayed is actually alive and well.
And once the ball got rolling with Bread of Life Crew, it wasn’t long before we started noticing changes in the neighborhood we visited every week.
The residents had always been talkative, but they soon started sharing more than idle conversation — they started sharing their dreams. They told us they looked forward to seeing us each Wednesday night. They’ve even given back, by offering meals and water on hot days!
But most important of all, people we visit have come to realize that we aren’t there to dispense charity, but rather friendship, love, and relationship. And what we’ve come to realize is that even though we came to spread hope, hope was already here – waiting to be tapped.
Our expectations have been surpassed, especially for what we expected from a loaf of bread. I love the people I’ve met and the relationships I’ve formed. And in the end, we, the encouragers, are encouraged as much as the people we reach out to!
Are you willing to push fear and preconceptions aside to reach out to your city?