Hamtramck Mission Trip
This past summer, a few of our CCUC members, Connie Wong from CCUC-South, and Janice Lee and Connie Lam From CCUC-Chinatown, went on a short term mission trip to Hamtramck, Michigan. We asked them to share a bit of their experience.
"Prior to our trip, we each asked what our motives were for going to Hamtramck.
We all wanted to learn more about Islam and the community in Hamtramck through partnering with the Schneiders’ ministry."
Tell us a little about yourselves and thoughts prior to the trip:
Janice: Born and raised in the suburbs of Detroit, I had never been to Hamtramck but knew it as the Polish community where we got paczkis. I always thought that Hamtramck was part of Detroit, but after some research we learned that Hamtramck is a two-square-mile city surrounded by Detroit. Hamtramck went from a 75% Polish population to a majority Muslim population consisting of Yemeni and Bangladeshi immigrants.
Connie W: Prior to the trip, I had very little experience serving the Muslim community, and much of my impression came from the media. However, as I went through ‘30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World’ in preparation for the trip, I started to see how incomplete and incorrect my perceptions were. I wasn’t sure what to expect during the trip (loud sirens for the call to prayer?), but I was excited!
Connie L: ...I witnessed firsthand a great example of Christians living to witness Jesus Christ to the community around them. Upon arriving, I wasn't too sure what to expect but by the end of our four-day trip, I left understanding just a little bit more what it might look like to live for God through great love and intentionality.
Were there any highlights you would like to share?
Connie W / Janice: One highlight from this trip was visiting the mosque on Friday after spending the morning cleaning Sisterhood Fitness, the gym Kathy runs to invite the Yemeni women into a safe space where they can learn about nutrition, health and build friendships. Kathy said that she expected the ladies to come in for a few hours and then leave after exercising, but they would stay for the entire day chatting and having tea with one another.
Before entering the mosque, Kathy helped us with our headscarves and encouraged us to pray for the Muslim people and the Hamtramck community as we sat through the service. Quietly, we slipped off our shoes at the women’s entrance and proceeded up the stairs to the space where the women worshiped. It was difficult to concentrate and pray while the sheik was reciting the Quran in Arabic. As the service ended, some of the ladies in the back introduced themselves to us and asked if we were interested in Islam. Connie W. told them that we are Christians but were there to learn about Islam. They were warm and friendly. The sheik’s wife invited us to dinner on Sunday to celebrate Ramadan. Ruefully, we turned down the invitation explaining that we would be heading back to Chicago.
For the rest of the afternoon, Daniel and Kathy shared more about their story how God brought them back from Yemen and led them to Hamtramck as we made zhuk, a Yemeni hot sauce, to help fundraise for their ministry. We learned that they seek to build trust and relationships with their neighbors before they even mention Christ. The community is well aware that Daniel and Kathy are Christians, and they often pray with their Muslim neighbors as they stop by Detroit Peppers, the garden where they grow fresh produce to sell at Detroit’s Eastern Market to supplement their ministry.
Connie L: One of the aspects of the trip that I enjoyed the most was how much time we got to spend with the Schneiders and understand their lives. It felt like having a cup of tea and chatting with old friends. We spent most of the days working alongside the Schneiders in some of the projects that they had going on including Sisterhood Fitness, a gym accessible for Muslim women to exercise/socialize and their Garden Project. Daniel and Kathy told stories of what life had been like for their family since they moved to Hamtramck, what the community is like, and generally how they have experienced God over the last five years since they arrived.
What is something that you learned from your trip?
Connie L: I saw how deeply interwoven "loving God" and "loving people" meant for them (Kathy and Daniel). This trip challenges me to see what God is already doing in my own community
Janice: Through our time with the Schneiders and the short trip to Hamtramck, I learned the importance of building trusting relationships as the platform for sharing the gospel and the need for dialogue between different faith communities. As followers of Christ, we must respectfully listen as others share their beliefs and boldly proclaim the hope we have in Christ through our lives.
Connie W: Through the trip I caught a glimpse of what it looks like to do ‘mundane’ ministry with a big heart. The Schneider’s team may not see a single convert for many years, but regardless they are faithfully loving, advocating, and serving their community. Even when there is seemingly little to no fruit, they trust in God’s love for the Muslim men and women and patiently wait with burning hearts for God to move.
We love hearing about the different ways our members and other Kingdom workers are serving the Lord. We are so encouraged by the experience of Kathy and Daniel Schneider, Connie, Janice, and Connie in Hamtramck and we hope you are encouraged too. If there is another experience that you would like to share with the rest of CCUC, please contact Communications@ccuc.net for more info.