I’m looking out on the city tonight from our suite in the Character Inn in downtown Flint, Michigan. My window overlooks Saginaw Street. It is “Main Street” in the Downtown. It’s a nice view, but let’s not pretend, the city where we live is on hard times. Flint has seen more prosperous days. Industry in our city is a shell of what it once was. The City government is in crisis. Serious tensions divide the city. The economy is troubled. Job opportunities are thin. Families are stressed. Crime is a problem. Weekly I meet people who seem to be foraging for hope like a fish out of water gasps for air.
It’s hard to find good news in the paper. But last week I noticed an interesting piece in the Flint Journal. A pair of Peregrine Falcons are nesting on the sixteenth floor of one of the buildings in downtown Flint. These are an endangered species, but they are surviving and thriving in the heart of a troubled city. I saw the fact as hopefully symbolic.
Some of the greatest churches ever have thrived in some of the darkest places. Some of the strongest and most useful tools for God have been forged in a painful and difficult marriage. The stories that so stir and inspire us were born in dark difficult places like Corrie Ten Boom’s story born in a Nazi concentration camp. Some of the most beautiful flowers grow in the most unlikely places. And there is no question that the songs that touch our hearts and change our lives were often written from circumstances of great sorrow or tragedy.
Every week I meet more people who are not ready to give up on the City of Flint. They have been working and hoping and praying here for years. When I see that I realize there is a force at work in this city. And it is not a human force, it is Divine.
Flint is like a lot of cities… it is full of sin, and all trouble bread of sin, but where sin abounds grace abounds even more. Like the Falcons I want to rise above despair and thrive in the heart of a troubled city. I wouldn’t mind if you prayed for us while we try to do that right here in Flint, Michigan.
Kenneth L. Pierpont
The Riverfront Character Inn
May 5, 2003