This article comes from Rev. Dr. Denise Kingdom Grier, lead pastor of Maple Avenue Ministries in Holland, Michigan. Please consider how your church can help their efforts to provide hope and water in Flint, Michigan. If you decide to help, please contact the Synod office as soon as possible, so that we can let Rev. Kingdom Grier know what she can expect from RSNY.
“…seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
We have been working with partners in Flint, MI in response to the poisoned water crisis for almost two years and have concluded “Flint needs hope more than they need water.”
This summer the city of Flint has determined that the water flowing through the pipes in the city is safe and drinkable. Therefore the city’s report has prompted community agencies to cease to provide water to residents who are reasonably skeptical of the validity of the report. Currently the churches are the only sources for the distribution of bottled water in the city.
Church Without Walls is our church partner in Flint. We share a kinship and commitment to bring and sustain hope in the city where they have impact and credibility. We have recently connected with Resurrection Reformed Church in Flint who expressed an eagerness to become more directly involved in God’s faithful work towards hope in the city. We will soon connect the two ministries in hopes of creating a sustainable relationship toward mission in the City of Flint.
Maple Avenue Ministries has simply functioned as a bridge from the RCA, Holland churches, organizations and businesses to deliver much needed hope to a city where injustice and despair has found a home. With the help of these partners we have been able to deliver hope in the form of bottled water, water testing devices, handi wipes, hand sanitizer, waterless shampoo, lotions, toothpaste, food and our enduring presence. We call the bags with these items Hope Bags as they are intended to remind our brothers and sisters that God has not forsaken their basic needs.
Our mission holds to certain values:
- We provide resources and encouragement to the people on the ground doing the work.
- We listen to learn from our ministry partners in Flint and endeavor to help bear their burden.
- We solicit their prayers, advice and friendship as ministers in the gospel.
- We deeply respect our partners so we don’t take pictures of people unless they request it. We don’t linger after the delivery, knowing these are busy people.
Here are a few things we would like to accomplish by December 31:
- Continue to collect water from local partners to resource Church without Walls’ weekly distribution.
- Launch a partnership between young people at Maple Avenue and Church Without Walls to raise up agents in each city. This will include an entrepreneurial endeavor to help the students develop business plans, budgets and marketing strategies.
- Co-host a back to school event in the city of Flint which will provide backpacks, school supplies and resources to send our partners to school with hope for a productive year.
- Provide Church without Walls a heat press and screen printer in order to make t-shirts, hats and such to raise funds for their ministry in the city of Flint.
- Launch a meat drive in November to resource the community for the holiday seasons. (Note: Food pantries seldom have meat to offer.)
- Most importantly, continue listening to the Spirit to discern opportunities to partner with God in bringing hope to Flint.
Here’s how you can help:
- Remember the people of Flint and the governing officials who make key decisions, in prayer.
- Keep the water coming. Even when the water is safe, it will take a long time for people to trust enough to drink it. We prefer to avoid Nestle water (Ice Mountain, Polar Springs, Pure, etc.)
- 100 Brita filters (PUR 3-Stage Advanced Faucet Water Filter, 7.7-Inch by 3.2-Inch, Chrome) for residents and 3 pack refills.
- 50 “hope bags” full of school supplies, filtered water bottles (PUR RF-9999 MineralClear Faucet Replacement Water Filter Refill, 3-Pack) and a message of hope.
- 75 “hope bags” for seniors for Christmas with toiletries, a gift and a message of hope.
- Money for programs, supplies, transportation (it’s 136 miles each way to Flint and the amount of water we carry often requires several vehicles), church overhead and administration.
- Keep your ear to the ground, listening for glimmers of hope in the city we love.