Fishers UMC Blog

“It’s Not Tiny At All; It’s a Game-Changer.”

I first met Faith Fowler while working at Birmingham UMC, located in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan.  About once a week, I would venture down the historic Woodward Avenue to see and learn from her.  Rev. Fowler, or Faith as she prefers to be called, serves two roles in Detroit: one as the pastor of Cass UMC and the other as the Executive Director of Cass Community Social Services.  Few people have had as much of an impact on my life as Faith.

Cass UMC is a very small, impoverished congregation located on an empty Detroit street corner.  On the Sundays I was able to attend worship, the majority of the parishioners were either homeless persons or those in town for a mission trip.  The music wasn’t great, but the worship was excellent.  The building was old, but it was grand.

Located catty-corner from the church stood Cass Community Social Services – a non-profit organization Faith helped found.  Their focus is to provide “food, housing, health services, and job programs.”  While there, I got to see each of these areas in action.  There was the daily meal program that served lunches partially composed of produce grown in an abandoned lot-turned urban farm.  I cut tires and helped turn them into sandals and mud mats.  This provided jobs and also helped alleviate the city’s abandoned tire problem.  And then, of course, were the hours I spent shredding paper and delivering truckloads of it to a recycling center.  We not only recycled the paper, but also provided employment for some of the mentally-challenged persons Cass Community cared for during working-hours throughout the week.

Faith is a hero, and that’s probably understating it.  She has won numerous awards for her green industries, and has been recognized as one of the key leaders in facilitating Detroit’s turnaround.  Students from universities and seminaries come to learn from Faith, and mission teams regularly visit to serve.

Faith’s latest endeavor is to build tiny homes in Detroit.  Click HERE for a short, one-minute video that explains in more detail what they are doing.  Spoiler alert: Faith ends the video saying, “It’s not tiny at all; it’s a game-changer.”  Persons are given a safe place to live, and a life-changing opportunity.  It’s that last line, especially, that is sticking with me: “It’s not tiny at all; it’s a game-changer.”

It’s not tiny at all; it’s a game-changer.

Yesterday I preached a sermon from Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew 5-7.  With Jesus, the expectation was always for heart-change to lead to life-change.  Our lives, once we choose to take on the name Christian, must yield fruit in keeping with Christ.

Obviously Faith’s example, at first read, sounds extreme.  And perhaps it is.  It is very rare for persons to jump from where they are to being at a place like Faith.  But, as the old cliché goes, every journey begins with a single step.

Ain’t that the truth?

The truth of Lent, the truth of the Christian journey, the truth of discipleship, and the truth of change.  A single step.  A single change.  A single decision.

What step might God be inviting you to take?  Who knows…it could be a game-changer.  

Pastor Jared Kendall
Associate Pastor
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The Wall

I am still pretty green when it comes to writing blogs, so please, bear with me on this one.  I have been pretty silent about what has been going on in our country since November (don’t worry, this isn’t a political post).  I find most of it scary and I’m not sure how to process the changes that have already been made and those that are coming.  I know that there are a lot of Christians out there in the same boat as me.  So, I thought that I would just tell a story and hopefully it will give hope and maybe even some peace to even just one person reading this. 

Every other week, I get the privilege of teaching preschoolers about God, Jesus, and the Bible during Sunday school.   After Christmas, I like to teach the kids about who Jesus was while he was here on earth (little kids have trouble with the idea that Jesus didn’t stay “baby Jesus” after the holiday…hehe).  We do lessons on the miracles He performed, the parables He told, you name it.  About a month ago, I laid out about 30 cardboard boxes (think shoe size) in the middle of the room.  The kids were stoked to come in and start building with the boxes.  One of them asked me, “What are these for?”  Without a thought, I said, “we are building a wall today.”  As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I felt this eeriness come over me.  I had heard way too much about building walls lately and I was OVER it.  However, I pressed on since the kids didn’t know why I felt queasy all of a sudden.  The lesson that day came from the Gospel of Luke; about the 10 lepers who were forced to live outside of the village walls due to their illness.  The men were separated from their families, alienated for something that they couldn’t help, and to top it all off, they were in pain from their disease!  One day, they heard that Jesus was coming through on his way to Jerusalem.  As He walked into the village with his entourage, the lepers called out to him in faith, asking Him to heal their awful affliction.  Instead of turning his back to these men, instead of saying “sorry, I don’t want to get what you have”, instead of saying “you don’t belong with everyone else,” instead of making them feel worse for something that they couldn’t help, Jesus showed his mercy and love.  He told the men to go into the village and to show themselves to the priests.  As they walked, they were cleansed of the leprosy. 

I told this story as the kids were building their “wall.”  I asked them how it would feel to be separated from their mommies and daddies.  Some of the answers included “sad”, “lonely”, and “mad.” We talked about how Jesus loved these men even though He had just met them and even though they were really sick.  Jesus tore down the “wall” that these men were forced to live outside of.  Even though it was still physically there, the figurative barrier was broken by His love and compassion for these men who were different in the eyes of their people.  We ended the activity by knocking down our cardboard wall and the heaviness that I felt before the lesson had faded.  I knew that God’s got this, no matter what. 

I guess my point to this story is that regardless of what the next few years bring…..walls, bans, new laws established, old ones repealed…as Christians we can still and very much need to show love and compassion.  We need to be willing to reach across the physical and figurative wall to make a connection to those whom this world says don’t belong.  Remember, we are all children of God, therefore we all belong. 

Jenica Giffin
Children’s Ministry Assistant
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