I sat with a visitor at church last week, and struck up a conversation. She’d heard of our little church plant and came to see what was what. I gave her a little background about the pastor’s heart for the city and for people in recovery. His original vision was to reach the poor and disenfranchised on the northwest side of Grand Rapids and we as a congregation have partnered with quite a few ministries there. But it seems as if God had a slightly different plan and has been adjusting our little fellowship accordingly.
The pastors and elders have developed a solid relationship with the staff at Mel Trotter Ministries. https://www.meltrotter.org/ This is a downtown ministry that addresses homelessness, addictions, and recovery. We’ve taken over providing a chapel service once a month and I have had the great privilege of sharing my story of rejection and forgiveness and also gave away books to whoever wanted to read the story.
Part of the reason we’ve gotten so involved is that our pastor found out that once people have completed a recovery program, they are often not welcome in many local churches. Too messy and inconvenient. Too close and uncomfortable. Our church made a conscientious decision to start relationships with the homeless and people in recovery so if they want to, they have a place to connect with when they are out of the program. We have bible studies, provide transportation, and do our best to do life together. You win some, you lose some. Some people have made a great start at recovery, found jobs and moved into an apartment. Some are back on the street. Recovery is a process that goes day by day.
As I was explaining this to our visitor I said, “You can have nice church or you can have authentic church. With authentic church you will have messes. I can guarantee it is messy here. Welcome to our mess.” Her eyes lit up.
I do believe I’ll be seeing her again. If you are in the Grand Rapids area, I invite you to Lake Effect Church. Broken people are welcome there. http://lakeeffect.church/
Donna Kemper put aside her art career to care for a mother she hadn't seen in over a decade. For seven years she followed her mother's journey into dementia, caring for her and putting forgiveness into action.