The big payoff for our work in River Rouge was the free community cook-out held Friday in the park located next to Grace Baptist Church. The NBC Teen Life Missions team canvassed the neighborhoods of River Rouge for several days in advance of the event, and even went out one last time a few hours before the cook-out. With a start time slated for 6 p.m., there were many that showed up early, ready for food and festivities.
Set-up for the event went quickly thanks in part to the many hands available to set up an inflatable slide and bounce house, grill and drink stand, popcorn, snow cone and cotton candy stands, two tents and Nine Square game, just to name a few. The Spread The Word team is used to doing this on their own, so the interns were happy to have some assistance in both set-up and tear down at night’s end.
The turnout for Friday’s cookout was exceptional. Many came out to participate, and the Spread The Word team said it was their biggest cook-out of the summer. Kids and adults alike enjoyed the event, and there were several members of Grace Baptist Church on hand to make valuable connections with the River Rouge community.
The event was scheduled from 6 – 9 p.m., but we were aware that some storms may pass through the area. Pass through they did, and made for an evening our youth won’t soon forget. Less than an hour and a half into the cook-out the wind picked up and soon a downpour ensued. Guests scrambled for cover and many of us sprang to action securing tents and inflatables the wind tried to uproot. It was an unbelievable sight, and it could have very easily signaled the end of the event.
But a funny thing happened. Many found refuge in the sanctuary of Grace Baptist Church, a building within which most probably had not set foot. Once the rain lifted and we began to clean up from the aftermath, many of the children began showing up to resume their games. Soon the park began to fill, while not to the capacity we had seen before the storm. But the people returned, activities commenced, and many stayed well past the listed end time of 9 p.m. In fact, children were getting their faces painted at 9:40 p.m. as their parents provided light via their phones.
It’s been a long week, and I was impressed by what I witnessed during the cook-out. Several teens pitched in and helped out in times of great need. Others were looking for ways to share the load, and I observed several running, not walking, to a place where they could be of service. At a time when they have logged one long day after another, this group stepped up to the challenge in a big way and answered the call.
It has also been a joy to see how this group has meshed over the course of the week. We have several participating in this team that come from other churches – even other states – and to see everyone making connections each day, forming bonds and getting to know one another more shows how God can work in hearts when we are focused on Him. Each of these individuals has given up a week of their life to be here in Detroit. They have made a sacrifice to serve. My hope is that several lifelong friendships are developed as a result of this trip.
With the cook-out behind us, Saturday will be a more relaxed time for the team. We will go on a walking tour of downtown Detroit, taking in the sights. It will be a nice change of pace as our time here winds down. Please pray that the remainder of our time at Inter-City Baptist Church is profitable. Also be in prayer for Grace Baptist Church and their ministry. Pray that the cook-out will result in guests on Sunday morning and that the church can reach more of the lost in River Rouge.