Chapel: Pray to find key to your city
By Michael Ferraresi
GCU News Bureau
During the first Chapel after spring break, pastor Christopher Brooks issued a challenge to the student congregation that had just laughed out loud when he characterized his home city as “beautiful and peaceful.”
He didn’t find it funny, though he also didn’t seem to mind, as if he were accustomed to hearing outsiders stigmatize his hometown. Sure, other words might come to mind to characterize Detroit in the aftermath of recent economic crises.
However, Brooks said the hard work of his Evangel Ministries and devout Christians around the city has helped transform downtrodden neighborhoods into centers for community rebirth — a key mission of Jesus and other devout Bible figures, such as Nehemiah who followed God’s call to rebuild Jerusalem.
Paul had Rome. Abraham had Canaan. So where is our focus?
Brooks, who wore a Detroit Tigers cap and a sweater he joked was a better fit for March in Michigan than in Arizona, explained God’s love for us is just one of the great love stories of the Bible. Many Christians are still learning the other love story — God’s love for cities, which ties into the second commandment, to love your neighbor as yourself.
“It’s because loving God always leads to a love for neighbors, neighborhoods and cities,” Brooks said. “And deep and buried within the context of your Bible is this great love affair that God has for cities, and many of us have flat out missed it.”
Brooks welcomed the Arena crowd by saying “word on the street” was GCU had the “hottest” Chapel in the U.S. He reminded the audience that with all the faith-based resources and needs in the communities around GCU, students have the ability to impact people’s lives.
He gave them an assignment: pray to God to lead you to your city. What city are you drawn to? Where does God call you to serve? Where do you feel that burden, where people are crying out for help? Imagine the possibilities. Camden, N.J.? Chicago? Compton, Calif.? Detroit? Central Phoenix?
Brooks suggested the average Christian can tend to be spiritually self-centered if focused too much on a personal relationship with God, rather than looking at how that relationship includes the people around us, especially in broken communities struggling with poverty, hunger and violence.
The pastor showed a documentary video about Evangel Ministries’ inner-city outreach programs in Detroit, such as entrepreneurship development courses, a community food co-op, life coaching and other efforts so integral to a neighborhood renaissance.
The film reflected the spirit of GCU’s own efforts in west Phoenix, where the University plans to renovate as many as 700 homes through a partnership with Habitat for Humanity, among other community redevelopment efforts in Canyon Corridor and Maryvale.
“What if the centerpiece of the Gospel is God’s great love for cities and for this world?” Brooks asked with a deep, soulful voice that carried through the Arena.
If that’s true, taking the focus off “I” and “me” is essential to reflect God’s will.
“What if we’re moving toward something greater than just you and me being able to say, ‘Man, I’m so glad I got fire insurance now that I gave my life to Jesus and I don’t have to worry about hell anymore,’” Brooks said.
“What if He wants us to join Him on missions, what some theologians call the Great Commission, and that our salvation was meant to be part of something bigger — us working with God in cities to win cities to Christ.”
● For a replay of Brooks’ talk, click here.
● Next week’s Chapel speaker: Kent DelHousaye, Bethany Bible Church
Contact Michael Ferraresi at 602-639-7030 or [email protected].