Well, maybe not all of us. A sudden influx of 2 billion people might not be so helpful.
But what if a good chunk of Christians decided to move to Detroit?
If these “25 Facts” (a few copied below) are indeed anywhere close to reality, things are not good for Detroit or the people of Detroit:
7) At this point, there are approximately 78,000 abandoned homes in the city.
9) An astounding 47 percent of the residents of the city of Detroit are functionally illiterate.
10) Less than half of the residents of Detroit over the age of 16 are working at this point.
11) If you can believe it, 60 percent of all children in the city of Detroit are living in poverty.
15) 40 percent of the street lights do not work.
16) Only about a third of the ambulances are running.
18) Two-thirds of the parks in the city of Detroit have been permanently closed down since 2008.
20) When you call the police in Detroit, it takes them an average of 58 minutes to respond.
22) The violent crime rate in Detroit is five times higher than the national average.
25) Crime has gotten so bad in Detroit that even the police are telling people to “enter Detroit at your own risk“
So things are bad.
Bad for the city, bad for the economy, bad for the working-age adults, and bad for the children. Things are really bad.
Christian discipleship is a call to follow Jesus into the broken, downtrodden, depressed, and hopeless areas of our world.
What is Christian discipleship if not a call to follow Jesus into Detroit?
I love this video from Al Roxburgh calling followers of Jesus to embed themselves in neighborhoods and re-weave the broken social fabric of our parishes. It gives language to the Christian imagination for place and is well worth nine minutes of your time.
So why don’t we (followers of Jesus) moved to Detroit to participate in…
- rebuilding the social fabric of care, neighbor to neighbor, city block to city block?
- contributing to the education, safety, and flourishing of “the least of these”?
- re-imagining a new economy in the wake of industrial abandonment?
- re-using the forgotten natural resources of land and space for the purposes of growing food and providing places for children and adults alike to laugh, smile, and play?
- restoring the dignity and humanity of this city and its people?
Not to single-handedly save the place but to witness to the God who is at work bringing up redemption and renewal to the broken places and participate in the holistic salvation of a once-great-but-now-fallen city
(And you can apparently buy a house for $500 so it’s not that you can’t afford it.)
Is this notion of relocation naïve? Where else is there hope for Detroit?