Friday, June 26, 2009

Motor City News #1

Hello friends.

This is the first installment of my newsletter to update all of you on my life here in Detroit. I will attempt to send a newsletter approximately once each month. For (possibly) more frequent updates, visit my blog:

I haven't connected with many of you in quite some time, so this first email will be a (hopefully brief) summary of how I got here.

Last summer I spent five months in Cairo, Egypt with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship living in a garbage slum called Mokattam. While I was there, God called me to two things: generally to serve the poor and oppressed with my life, and specifically to live simply in intentional community with other Christians in the ghetto somewhere in the US. I had never heard of people doing the latter, so I asked God to provide at least three other guys to do do that with before September 1. It turns out God was giving the same vision to three other guys on the same trip to Egypt.

So the four of us began talking about what it might look like to live together, and where we should go. For various reasons several cities made the short list, including Detroit, Milwaukee, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and a few others. We made some visits to a few cities, and through prayer and the council of other older and wiser people in our lives we are confident that God has led us to Detroit. So, the plan for now is that the four of us will move in together somewhere in Detroit this fall.

Through the process of trying to visit these cities, I was put in touch with Matt Hale, who works with the Navigators and a local community development organization (Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corporation -- shortened to CDC) to run an 'urban project' in the summer. Since I had no plans for the summer after graduation (I just graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology with a Masters of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering) I thought that this urban project would be a great way to be introduced to Detroit and begin forming a network of relationships.

So, beginning June 21 I will be living and working with five other summer interns to run the CDC's summer camp program which reaches out to kids in the North New Center neighborhood of Detroit. My address is below, the CDC is just one block east. For those of you familiar with Detroit, that's just north of Albert Khan's famous Fisher building, between Woodward and the Lodge.

One other significant thing before I finish: the job search. Despite five years of training as a mechanical engineer, I think I'd really like to be a school teacher. Middle school or high school math are attractive. I'm not certified, so the city won't hire me, but I'm looking into charter schools and the like. So far I haven't had too many good leads. I've applied to a few things online. I am particularly interested in working withing the city limits, not in the burbs, and Detroit has closed 80 schools in the last five years, so while people say there is always a need for good math teachers (especially male teachers), there have been quite a few teachers who have been laid off in Detroit and are also looking for jobs. In the midst of my job search I'm trusting that God has brought me here, and he will take care of me, wherever I end up working, and whatever I end up doing.

For those of you who are the prayerful types, I'll attach a few prayer requests to each newsletter:

- For unity among the interns that I'm just meeting... that we would be able to live and work well together as a team, and approach each other and the city with humble, learning attitudes.
- For my spiritual disciplines... that I would be able to develop strong habits of prayer and scripture study to associate with this new place.
- For a balance of good communication with the friends and family that I'm now far from and with the people that I'm beginning to connect to here in Detroit.
- For my job search... may God's will be done.

- m a t t

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