Thursday, April 06, 2006

Men of Grace

Last night, in place of our usual Wednesday evening seeker service called Connections, we had a concert by the Men of Grace. All of these men are former addicts who have completed or are completing a year long rehab program at the Grace Centers of Hope in Detroit. Grace Centers of Hope has homes for the men to live in, a clinic to treat anyone who needs help, and an ethic of work, prayer, and dignity that has proven miraculous to many, many men.

Most of the men are African-American (as is most of Detroit). Some were raised in believing homes and then -- for a variety of reasons -- they fell all the way down to the street. One by one, they told us their stories. We sat there transfixed by the pain they had experienced and by the ABSOLUTE and total lack of self-pity in their voices. They constantly praised Jesus for healing them and bringing them back to sanity.

And they sang. Lord, how they sang. When you realize what a man has gone through and how far back the journey was, when he sings "And I'll cherish the old rugged cross" there isn't a dry eye in the house. It was wonderful and we hope to have them back again.

Something needs to be said here: we have the bravest and coolest elders on the planet. You see, Men of Grace are not from "our tribe or tradition." Most of their songs require the use of instruments and (for those of you who stumbled onto this blog from other traditions) that has always been a super big no-no for our church. We went to our elders and asked them if we should ask the Men of Grace to sing only acapella and our elders said, "Why bring them here if we can't let them be who they are?" They went on to say that this was a good work, these were honorable men, and we needed to support and encourage them. "Let them sing and play as they usually do, and we will love them openly." They did, and we did, and God was praised throughout the evening.

At the end of the concert I asked the men and their pastor to line up in the middle aisle of our family room (that's what we call the auditorium). The people them gathered around them, laying hands on them as we prayed. One of the men was overheard saying to another one, "Man, I really feel loved here!"

Thanks, elders. And thanks, Men of Grace. For a quick laugh and a bit of fun, check out what someone with too much spare time has put together on www.songleaderrevolution.com. Then, go to http://gracecentersofhope.org/html/men_of_grace.shtml and see what the Men of Grace are doing now.

10 Comments:

At 4/06/2006 10:59:00 AM , Blogger David U said...

PM, what an incredibly encouraging post! WOW! Your Shepherds are awesome.....please pass along my thanks to them for putting their priorities in the right place. God for sure was glorified that evening. I would LOVE to hear these men sometime.....send em to Downtown in Searcy! :)

Thanks for taking the time to share this with us.

God bless,
DU

 
At 4/06/2006 12:00:00 PM , Blogger Jim MacKenzie said...

It sounds like the elders are the true men of grace here. Also, I went to the "SongLeaderConnection" site. Very funny.

 
At 4/06/2006 12:21:00 PM , Blogger jettybetty said...

What a true witness to God's grace--the grace we all so desparately need. I may have to buy one of their CDs!

 
At 4/06/2006 01:40:00 PM , Blogger Hoots Musings said...

That is what it is all about!
Thanks for sharing this Patrick, I think we would fit in there at Rochester.

 
At 4/06/2006 03:54:00 PM , Blogger Keith said...

We talk a lot about church planting. Could we negotiate some elder planting from your congregation? I have a couple of churches in mind. Great stuff.
Keith

 
At 4/06/2006 05:32:00 PM , Blogger PatrickMead said...

No deal! We are busy church planting up here and need them all! However... one of them will be lost to us soon. His job ended when one company bought another. Michigan has one of the worst economies in the US and Detroit is by far the worst in Michigan. It's hit us hard and this elder will probably be lost to us. $%&##%!

 
At 4/07/2006 07:31:00 AM , Blogger TKP said...

So Patrick, I'm curious as to how you found my blog. I don't recall ever meeting you. Thanks for the online wishes of sending chicken noodle soup, that was cool.

-Teresa

P.S. Do you know David U has an odd taste for unusual sandwiches? You should really ask him about this sometime.

 
At 4/07/2006 08:46:00 AM , Blogger PatrickMead said...

I'm not sure how I first found your page. I was just following interesting links one day and there you were. Glad you're feeling better. Congratulations on no longer being "temporary"!

 
At 4/07/2006 06:56:00 PM , Blogger Gem said...

I hear about them all the time on the radio, I've always wanted to hear them! Maybe we should have them down to Trenton to sing!!!

 
At 4/11/2006 10:33:00 AM , Anonymous renee cutts said...

I'm glad to see the elders and your congregation had the grace to have the men of grace share their vision. I'm not sure if it is our brotherhood that has shunned other's use of instruments who is in need of more grace or those we are now extending it to.

I welcome the transformation that I am seeing in our brotherhood (tribe) in recognizing there are other Christian believers out there besides us. I spoke with several believers from different tribes this past week on subjects ranging from weekly Lord's supper, to meeting on Saturday, to the workings of the Holy Spirit, to instrumental music. They are listening and open to searching for the truth but are we doing the same or do we believe we know it all already?

For us to make inroads with people we believe to be in error, we must subject ourselves to the same process without arrogance and with an open mind and heart to the truth no differently than we are expecting of them. We must also see that we are in need of grace no differently than they for surely there are things we may have misunderstood, too.

I also find it ironic that the scientific priesthood laying claim to being seekers of truth in comparison to us primative Bible believers when, in fact, they are aggressively in the business of suppressing the truth. Have you noticed the the dinosaurs that have suddenly sprouted feathers and ever increasing missing link announcements? They are in panic mode. Thank God for people like you who are willing to risk the establishment both within the church and in academia to teach the truth.

 

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