I wrote this post after having worked on and the “poiema” project which can be seen here: https://couragechurch.com/poiema
If you were to ask me what this curious golden metal container in the middle of downtown was several months ago, that question is what I would have responded with.
I was curious myself when it popped up, and once I found out what it was for, I knew it had to be a part of this project.
You see these containers painted gold and dropped in the middle of seemingly random areas, are dark when you walk in, but then, all of a sudden, right in front of you, appears a person from a distant land, in as much awe and wonder and confusion as yourself.
Using hidden audio visual technology they are able to connect you with others in similar portals, new friends in some of the most misunderstood places in the world. This is all in an effort to de-stigmatize cultures, cities, and nations through creating unlikely community. From Afghanistan to Cuba, from Myanmar to Korea, and Rwanda to The United Kingdom, it’s no wonder Detroit is on that list.
See we have a tendency to see a movie or hear news that paints an area or group in a bad or dangerous light. This only naturally makes us not want to go there, whether it is out of concern for our safety or just thinking it would make us uncomfortable.
We take bad testimony pretty seriously. Sometimes more seriously than good. But something even more powerful happens when a relationship is sparked.
Preconceived notions start to dissipate and new ideas about people or places begin to form. Someone who is prejudice towards a people group can’t be for long if they make an unlikely connection in an elevator, embrace one of them as a friend, or hear their plight. Friendship changes minds and hearts. I watched from my place of business across the street for months as groups of people from the city and the suburbs would walk into this golden box and learn from someone across the world their history, a traditional dance, play music together with them, or just listen to their personal stories. When they left they were so often astonished.
In 2 Corinthians 5, the Apostle Paul says we have been given the “ministry of reconciliation” and “From now on, regard no one according to the flesh.”
This is actually the only time ministry is really referenced in scripture.
The church as a whole is a beautiful, multi-faceted, multi-cultural tapestry of diverse ideas and people that are united by a come thread; the spirit of our Lord Jesus christ that unites us, His image. When someone wanders into our church culture, what should they walk away with? When it is truly seen, what should people say it looks like?
What draws them in?
Can they relate?
Jesus can relate to them but if we don’t look like Him in our ways, how will they know Him and how good He is?
The reconciliation Paul was talking about means friendship and we see how powerful that can be.
This is our job.
Our one job is friendship with the world Jesus so loved.
That is what changes peoples hearts and minds.
We begin to relate with others and it is so powerful that even those who hate have to reconsider themselves in the throws of real relationship.
So if you see a portal in the middle of your city, Don’t be afraid.
They bridge places and reveal things we couldn’t have seen otherwise. That is their nature.
They connect us.
That connection causes us to grow and look more and more like the image of Christ that we are.
In the Poeima video, Pastor Jacob talks about how poems, songs, and art are expressions that become tools to connect us when we’ve been through pain and heartbreak, Laughter, joy and tears.
This sort of art, much like the golden box in capitol park, show us that we have more in common than we think.
What does it look like when we act with an understanding of this commonality?
IT BECOMES A PICTURE OF GRACE.
We see this acted out in scripture in Acts 2:42-47, an image painted for us of what the early church looked like.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”