Accidental Discovery No Mistake for California College Student

Detroit's inner city becomes a greenhouse of spiritual growth for her and others

  • by Leah Munley with Chris Lawrence
Guy Gerrard

Surfing through the Cru summer missions website last spring, Leah Munley accidentally clicked on the wrong link.

The 21-year-old college student from Pleasanton, Calif., thought she was checking into a project for teachers, but instead she clicked on the one from Inner City in Detroit – a 5-week experience in one of the country's most crime-ridden cities.

Leah believed this was no coincidence.

That year, she had been studying Scripture about God's concern for the poor, and she discussed inner-city ministry with friends. She sensed that God wanted her to go to Detroit, and on this whim, she signed up.

The following are several excerpts from Leah's journal detailing her summer experience -- the highs and lows of a self-proclaimed "suburbanite" learning to do ministry in the heart of the city.

June 15 -- Not Good, but Available

We walked around the city with a partner and took food to have lunch with a homeless person. This was the beginning of learning to face a lot of my fears.

I was so scared. Terrified. I felt unsettled, uncomfortable and intimidated. Jesus, I don't think You're asking me to be good at this, just available.

June 16 -- Having a Compassionate Heart

Today was our first day working at Pilgrim Church, and I am amazed. Its congregation is made up of crack addicts, the homeless, ex-gang members and alcoholics. I got to talk to Pastor Covington, and he told me that, though I don't seem to fit in, I belong, because I have a compassionate heart.

I don't feel like I am good at inner-city ministry, but maybe that's the point. God is just giving me a heart to love people and become involved in their lives.

June 19 -- Honored to Learn

I realize that I have experienced very little pain in my life, or anything that is difficult. I run from and fear trials. But a lot of the people here can't avoid them and, as a result, their gratitude is more real, their prayers more fervent. I am honored to learn from them and serve alongside of them.

June 22 -- Shattering False Security

Yesterday was an overwhelming day. Our car got broken into, and I was reminded that bad things happen to me, too. It wasn't even that big of a deal, and no one was hurt, but I think my false security was shattered.

Yesterday, I got to pray with 8 or 9 women. Bernice wanted to give God her needs, Breyanna has never heard the gospel, and Beverly was stressed out about finances.

Lord, remind me that You're at the center of all of these struggles.

June 25 -- Detached from Material Things

Sitting at Starbucks…

I wonder what my "quiet time" would look like without this iPod -- if I were soaked, outside in the pouring rain with an old tattered Bible and maybe only a napkin to write on, with no coffee (that cost $4.30) and no home to return to afterwards?

God, what does my relationship with You look like detached from all of these things? Untie me from the illusion of the safety and comfort of my things.

I just saw a man walk by carrying a sleeping bag, soaked by the rain. Why doesn't he have a safe, warm place to lay his head? God, do You see him and know him? I feel helpless.

June 29 -- A Humbling Experience

On Saturday we went out and did door-to-door evangelism. Normally I would have written that off right away, but I saw that there is a genuine thirst and hunger for God in this broken creation. We wound up praying with a 30-year-old African-American man who received Christ.

I have never actually used the Four Spiritual Laws to share with someone, but I explained the whole thing and then Rev. Terry finished it up. It was the most humbling experience to be used as a mouth and a pair of feet to do God's work.

July 6 -- Wanting to Be a Servant of God

We had an outreach yesterday with Citadel of Faith Covenant Church. It was a block party/barbecue. Steph, Regina and I walked around inviting people. We walked down one street, and some people started screaming at us to go home, yelling, "White! White!"

It was slightly terrifying but also humbling and empowering that the only reason that we were there was Jesus, and so because of that we weren't going to leave. Things like this remind me that I want to be a servant of God.