Amazing Grace

A thank you from Imogene Johnson …

How can I say thanks … to God our Father, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit for providing the children of the Fletcher Field community with upgraded and safe play equipment?  All honor, glory and praise to our God!!! As I watched 6-year-old Johnny and  7-year-old Mariah running back and forth, trying out one piece of equipment after another — laughing, yelling, and smiling so full of joy – I could only reflect on the goodness and love of God for His children and how He worked through so many to get this done:  former residents of  Fletcher Field community, current residents, Detroiters, our corporate partners, non-profit partners, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) youth, Bishop James A. Jennings and Shield of Faith Church, Fletcher Field prayer partners, the media, the CKM Community Development Corporation Board members.  Thank you Lord!!!   Thank you Friends of Fletcher Field!  You are so special.  As you have given, my prayer and faith is that God will give it back to you one hundred fold.

I thank the Honorable Mayor Duggan and his officials who met with Friends of Fletcher Field on July 24 at the Park.  The City officials — Ms. Bradford, Mr. Dick and Mr. Karl and others — came prepared and presented the layout of the play area and pictures of the proposed upgraded play equipment.  They answered all of our questions and on July 27, the work began at Fletcher Field.  The work advanced every day, and on Aug. 7, the Fletcher Field play area was restored, upgraded and safe for our children.  The play area is beautiful. God worked a miracle for us.

The fight we waged was for the children and residents of this community.  Our standard and banner was the cross.  There is very little left in this neighborhood, which once had lovely homes, small businesses and families, with the church — Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church — at the center.  The battle we fought and won was about an opportunity for us, as the Church, to sow into the lives of the local children love, values, knowledge and wisdom.   On July 22, the day after the city took the play equipment and before officials agreed to meet with us, I was reading Proverbs 22:22-23. The Word of God was, “Do not exploit the poor because they are poor, and do not crush the needy in court, for the Lord will take up their case and will plunder those who plunder them.” (NIV)  I shared these scriptures with my partners.  God was going to fight with and for us, and He did.  Please know that this community did not qualify for upgraded equipment because of the demographics, small number of children and seniors.  But God said yes.

As you might know, we were blessed to partner with ELCA teens and adults on July 17 and 18. Each day we received a group of 45 participants from all over the country, and their mission theme was “RISEUP.”  My prayer for these two days was that the Lord’s Church: Lutheran, Catholic, Baptist, Methodist etc. would be one-John 17:22. The local team captains for the ELCA event were Chris Kempa, Mary Lou Gura, Lynn Gleton, Mary Wright, Shannon Happy, Veronica Tyree, Nivek Monet, John Lewis and Joseph Lewis. Thank you, soldiers, for being an awesome, hardworking group. Working together as God’s church, we decided to tackle six major projects: beautify Gilbo Street between Mt. Olivet and Doyle; create a flower garden in honor of Friends of Fletcher Field; spruced up the vegetable garden at the park; create the Monarch Way Station garden for the Monarch butterflies at the Fletcher –Almont Fruit Garden; art in the park, including building a model church.  At the end of each day, all the volunteers signed the small church, creating a memorial to their hard work. The church was then placed in the fruit garden at the conclusion of Day 2. Everyone did a great job.

The ELCA groups didn’t know how prophetic their RISEUP theme would be and the power of the cross.  I was walking in the vegetable garden July 24 — one week after the ELCA event and one day after the city said they were going to upgrade the park equipment — and I saw for the first time a cross made of sticks tied together with old string in the middle of the vegetable garden. Who made the cross? Thank you. The standard had been placed in the park! The picture of the cross speaks volumes as to why Fletcher Field lives. The song I learned as a child in vacation bible school came to my mind: “Onward Christian soldier marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before…” Glory to God for His Church and His Amazing Grace — RISEUP!