In India, we will partner with an organization to build a school and sponsor every child in it. We’ll also equip leaders and help families become financially self-sufficient.
In Detroit, we will partner with a ministry organization to renovate homes and transform a strategic neighborhood. We’ll also help plant a new church in the same neighborhood and start a pre-school to increase access to early education.
In the Western Suburbs, we will remodel and enhance our campus to make it a more effective tool for serving the community at large, and to meet the needs of our multi-generational congregation. We’ll also train members of the Ward family so they are prepared to share the gospel and engage the world around them.
When we read the Good News and study the ministry of Jesus, a pattern becomes quite clear. Whether he was meeting with the woman at the well, healing a man of leprosy, or showing compassion in so many ways in between, Jesus was a friend of the so-called untouchables. His heart was for the people who were marginalized and pushed to the very edge of their communities.
This heart inspires Ward Church to care about the modern day untouchables like the Dalit of India. A people who for countless generations have been oppressed by the culture’s caste system, which endures today even though it was outlawed many years ago. In Sanskrit, Dalit means ground, suppressed, crushed or broken to pieces. But these words only begin to describe the challenge the people of this tribe face even today.
Located in Northern India, Bihar is the third largest state in the country based on population. It’s also the youngest, with nearly 60% of inhabitants age 25 or below. That means Bihar is the future. Emerging generations are the majority here. More than 83 million people live in this densely populated region. And a quarter or more of them are Dalit – men, women and children who are oppressed for no other reason than their social class and ancestry.
Class oppression of Dalit is an issue that can only be overcome with deliberate action, compassion and love. The Dalit long for a different world. They long for freedom. The local church has a critical role to play in breaking the cycle of poverty and Ward can help. By responding to the Open Doors vision, we can make a dramatic impact in the lives of thousands of people. We can demonstrate the love of God by creating opportunities that simply will not exist without our action.
As a direct result of investing in each of these ways, we will ease the suffering of the Dalit in Bihar. We will instill some in the youngest generations with a passion for learning, and we will provide a vibrant school so they can pursue that passion. Our long-term commitment to the school we build will ensure its impact for years to come. We will be part of the growing church in India by providing encouragement and support for its leaders. We will reinforce Ward’s existing work in Bihar, where we already have a grant program, so we can make money available to even more people. And because we do this, Dalit people will become physically and spiritually free. They will know that God loves them. They will know that God has heard their cries for help. They will see God provide for their needs through the ministry of the local church, supported by fellow Christians thousands of miles away.
It’s so easy to get in the rut of my little world, my friendships, my concerns. These ministries open my eyes and heart to others who are not like me. It’s important for my faith, my compassion, and my schedule to be challenged to make a greater difference for Christ. When we see God moving, and the right people are in place, it’s exciting to help move that mission forward.
Just as we have found an “apostle” in the person of Jean Pierre Dabou in Mali, so have we found a patriarch in the person of Moses Parmar in India. He knows the language and culture and which questions to address. We don’t have to “reinvent” here, but follow this courageous brother as we respond to the needs of the Dalit people group.
In its more than 300 year history, Detroit has been called many things. The Paris of the Midwest. Motown. Bankrupt. A city rising from the ashes. The world watches Detroit with interest because it represents in one location the peaks and valleys of modern civilization. Detroit put the world on wheels. A century later, division, disinvestment and dishonesty put Detroit on its knees.
Today, Detroit is a comeback story in the making. Many people choose not to believe it, but it’s true. Downtown – the city center – is buzzing with new development. Corporate headquarters, entertainment venues, stores, restaurants and public spaces are cropping up along every block. Millennials are rushing into the core of the city and creating a situation unimaginable just a decade ago: apartment buildings have waiting lists. Real estate is in high demand.
But a city is more than its skyscrapers and central business district. A city is its people. And its people live in neighborhoods. And most Detroit neighborhoods are largely untouched, unchanged, or unaffected by the boom happening Downtown. Crime, unemployment and shattered families continue to plague the city in the blocks where people live.
Detroit needs hope that things can be different. The greater church has a role to play because it should be the primary voice of hope in the world. Ward has a role to play because Detroit is our hometown. It’s where we grew up, figuratively and literally. Our church was originally founded in Detroit. Many of our members were raised in the city. A few of them still live there. We are tied to Detroit by geography and history. We see need and opportunity on the horizon as we look to our neighbor in the east.
As public and private interests join together to help Detroit recover, one thing is clear. This city must be transformed one neighborhood at a time. If we can get a foothold in a key location, change can spread to surrounding areas. Fortunately, strategic partners are already working to make this happen. The Open Doors vision means that Ward will simply support them in a more deliberate and consistent way.
As a direct result of investing in each of these ways, we will encourage and resource our partner, Central Detroit Christian. We will increase CDC’s ability to fulfill its mission. We will take an active role in helping families become stronger. We will give dozens of families a fresh start and secure homes in which to raise their children. We will breathe life into one of Detroit’s strategic neighborhoods so it can spread to other parts of the city. We will help people hear the message of Jesus in ways that make sense to them. We will invest countless hours to renovate homes, and in the process, build relationships with our new friends in the city. Over time, an entire neighborhood will be reborn. Observers who wonder how this happened will discover a group of Christ-followers who chose to invest in Detroit out of love.
Ward has worked in Detroit with CDC and other partners for many years. We know that the only real hope for lasting change in Detroit or anywhere is in Jesus Christ. At this time when there is a lot of positive change going on in the city of Detroit and many opportunities to get involved, now is the time for Ward to step up and increase our contribution to the city as we continue to partner with CDC on this redevelopment master plan.
Detroit has a been a place of racial strife and oppression for so long that it sometimes feels like suffering is in its bones. Jesus has another story to tell about Detroit and Ward can be a voice proclaiming that story. When we come together to serve and love one another, we make space for the love of Jesus to enter into our lives… We find a place to practice repentance and forgiveness.
As a church, our primary mission field is to our immediate neighbors – the people we encounter closest to where we live, work and play. They are the ones we see day after day. But while we may have frequent contact with our neighbors – maybe even spending hours near them each week – if we are completely honest, we realize we are missing countless opportunities for true and meaningful connection. It’s ironic, and potentially tragic, that in a time when people are more open to spiritual conversations, many in the church feel like they lack the best words and environments to help them happen naturally and authentically.
Ultimately, a church is not a building or a campus. A church is a people. That means Ward isn’t a “what.” Ward is a “who.” Still, our campus is one of the most important tools we have to help us engage others and share the light of Jesus with the world.
From the very youngest to the very oldest in our church family, we need a more effective tool to promote more effective ministry. Over the past year, the people who have explored the Open Doors vision have asked a lot of questions. We’ve studied and prayed. We’ve thought and discussed. And through it all, we believe God has spoken.
Can a building help promote better relationships? Can Ward’s space be transformed so that it deliberately welcomes new people and inspires them on their journey to faith? Can we learn and grow together to more actively and creatively share God’s love with the world around us? Yes, yes, yes and yes.
As a direct result of investing in each of these ways, we will activate Ward’s campus. The corner of 6 Mile and Haggerty will come alive with activity. Our building will be developed as a hub – keeping in mind this place is not the ultimate destination. Our building will be a launching off point to take hope into our neighborhoods, schools and workplaces. Ward’s members will spend themselves in community. We will be known as a people who follow God, carry the burdens of those who are hurting and show the world a better way. We will be visible, engaging and part of what makes the Western Suburbs a great place to live. People will feel at home on our campus. They will be inspired by the gathering places offered here throughout the week. Our building will be accessible and useful for every generation. And we will use it to express love joyfully, generously, with no strings attached.
I have benefited greatly from my long-term relationship with both the people of Ward Church and the people of the City of Northville. That said, I hope to introduce anyone I can to the wonderful people of Ward, to our facility and eventually our Lord. I want our facility to be as approachable, comfortable and as inviting as possible; I would have it be the ‘go to’ place for all ages. I’d like to see us ‘open doors’ in every way possible.
Ward has been very intentional of late in being more open and hospitable to those in our community. Activities both within our building and outside on our campus have been increasing over the past two years. The building enhancements will increase our ability to create an experience that makes our guests feel at home, welcome and accepted. We want to be a church where new guests drop their guard, relax their fears and are open to the message of God’s grace.
Door totals and total goal include expense allowances for fundraising, management and construction contingencies spread across all three areas.
November 1 & 2, 2014
24-Hour Prayer Vigil
November 6, 2014
Advance Commitment Event
November 16, 2014
November 23, 2014
December 7, 2014
First Fruits Sunday
2nd QUARTER 2015
Begin main entrance & park project
On-campus accessibility upgrades
Indoor community gardens in Detroit
3rd QUARTER 2015
On-campus nursery and playscape
Grants in India
4th QUARTER 2015
Café / Library renovation
Begin building School in India
2nd QUARTER 2016
Continue renovation of homes in Detroit
Begin building Preschool in Detroit
60th Anniversary & General Assembly
3rd QUARTER 2016
Continue renovation of homes in Detroit
Grants in India
4th QUARTER 2016
Church plant in Detroit
Ongoing support in India
Project Timeline is tentative and subject to change, follow updates here and on the blog.
For in-depth information on “How to Make an Over & Above Gift to Open Doors,” and discussions on topics like “Priority Budgeting, Redirecting Present Expenditures, Giving Excess,” etc… See this post on our blog.
From prison, the Apostle Paul asked believers to pray that God would “open a door for our message so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ.” In the New Testament, an open door is a picture of an opportunity to share Jesus in word and deed. Only God can open a door. Our job is to boldly walk through the doors God has opened.
A huge aspect of this vision moving forward is prayer. At Ward, we believe strongly in the power of prayer. Prayer is not only about petitioning God, asking that He would open doors, but it is about surrendering our hearts to His will. Prayer has a way of breaking down our selfish desires and propelling us forward in obedience.
There is a devotional aspect to this vision as well. Guides are available at the Open Doors kiosk in the Grand Mall and on the blog.
On November 1 & 2, 2014 we held a 24-hour prayer vigil in the Chapel. But the time to pray is not over. We invite you to join us throughout these next two years as we surrender ourselves before God in the indispensable spiritual discipline of prayer. Download Prayer Guide.
Do you have a question that isn’t addressed here? Send email to email@example.com