Detroit is a deserted and dangerous city. The Motor City is not IN decline; it has fallen to the bottom of the heap. Drugs. Violent crime. Murder. Bankruptcy. Abandoned. All these words describe a once proud city.
So what do you do with a city described by those words?
Here’s the plan most people have when it comes to Detroit: avoid it all costs. Ignore it and hope it leaves you alone. Stuff your fingers in your ears and repeat after me: “La, la, la, la, la.” Maybe if we just look the other way God will open up a hole in the ground and it will slide further into the hell of hopelessness.
It doesn’t look good for Detroit:
- At its zenith Detroit had 1.8 million people. Due to a mass exodus equaled in number only by the Israelites leaving Egypt, the population has shrunk to around 700,000.
- Unemployment is twice the national average.
- The murder rate is 10 times the national average.
- Entire neighborhoods, once idyllic places to raise a family, lay in abandoned ruin. One city official estimates 100,000 homes stand empty.
- City funds remain in such short supply that the police force must reduce their number. This is ominous news for such a troubled city.
But Detroit will not go quietly into that dark night. Killing off a once vibrant metropolis is not quite so easy. Don’t pull the plug and turn out the lights just yet. Detroit, to the surprise of most, is showing signs of a comeback. The auto industry has stabilized. The downtown is experiencing new life. Investors drool at the possibilities of turning a buck in a desperate environment.
So Detroit is getting national attention. Corporations suspect there is money to be made. Retailers are eyeing possible building locations for new stores while dollar signs dance in their heads. This is all good news for a city on life support. But Detroit needs more than this. Detroit needs men and women who heroically move back to the inner city.
Detroit needs walking, talking, breathing heroes to live where people are hurting.
My son in law Brent Bittenbender is one such hero.
On New Year’s Eve 2014 he loaded his stuff into a truck and moved to the inner city with his wife and three young kids.
His story is a remarkable one. Years earlier he roamed the streets in the bad part of town. While dodging cops and other dangers he learned the streets. He earned a Phd in “streetology.” And he even visited the inside of a jail a few times.
But, in his words, God turned him around. His life is changed. Now, years later, God has called him back to the inner city. He stays awake at night plotting how to help the people who are broken in a broken city. If you want to read more about his efforts you can do that at revolution313.com.
With heroes like Brent and his family Detroit really does have hope. It’s the kind of two-legged hope that makes a lasting impact.
May his tribe increase.
Wanna be a hero?