Brick by Brick
By John Richardson
It’s a long haul from Detroit to Flint. Brian Burrell makes the trip four days a week, hitting the road early for a 10-hour workday, heading north to The Wall. It’s a nickname, what we affectionately call the Flint Campus of Life Challenge, where Brian is the Program Director.
The name comes from the Biblical story of Nehemiah. In Nehemiah’s day, Jerusalem had fallen on hard times. It had lost its way, its pride, and its will. Something had to be done. Answering God’s call, Nehemiah traveled a long distance, too; almost a thousand miles over rugged roads from Susa to Jerusalem. He took on the challenge in Jerusalem because, as he put it, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” (Nehemiah 2:17).
The Wall; it has always represented integrity, strength of resolve, a universal symbol of endurance in the face of the enemy. In the process of rebuilding Jerusalem’s wall, Nehemiah knew he would do more than repair a pile of bricks that lay in ruin, by God’s grace and power, Nehemiah would restore a purpose and a plan to his people.
The Wall in Flint represents our resolve to answer God’s call. Like Detroit, Flint is a city under siege, beset by the ravages of lost jobs, lost pride and the mind-numbing anesthesia of drugs and alcohol. For well over a year, since January of 2010, Brian Burrell along with his wife Sheila, who is Women’s Director in Detroit, have been working tirelessly to rebuild The Wall in Flint. There is much to do, but we can report great progress.
Sheila’s task is to rebuild support and renew relationships in the community at large. She is planning church rallies, lunches, open houses and other events to show what God is doing at Flint Life Challenge.
The community is responding. Churches have opened their arms and come along side us and we along side them. Our home church in Flint is Riverside Tabernacle, a church with a reputation for helping the poor in the city. Our students volunteer at The Storehouse, Riverside’s special ministry that feeds and ministers to over 800 people every Tuesday. Students also have the privilege of hearing the Word preached by Pastor Tom Mattiuzzo on Sunday mornings. Sunday evenings our students attend The Rock to hear the Word from Jim Combs, Wes Morris and Ernesto Alaniz. Pastor Alaniz has graciously volunteered to teach every week at Flint Life Challenge.
Sheila looks forward to working with many more churches, para-church ministries, law enforcement and other community groups in the area, letting them know about how we can serve them and what they can do to help us.
Ultimately, the mission of Flint Life Challenge is the same as in Detroit. Life Challenge is a place of hope where men can receive Christ, have victory over addiction and learn the spiritual disciplines that will serve them and their community after they complete the program.
Please pray with us. Pray especially for Flint Life Challenge as we reach out in love to restore a purpose and a plan, brick by brick, rebuilding The Wall.
“So we went on building the wall; and all the wall was joined together
half-way up: for the people were working hard.” (Nehemiah 4:6)