A recent church plant in Detroit, Mich., has taken the form of a house ministry. Hesed Community Church has been established in Detroit’s Brightmoor neighborhood, a community that has seen significant disinvestment—people packing up and leaving—even by churches. So Hesed’s pastors, Mark Van Andel and Nate Bull, wanting to bring a consistent presence of the body of Christ into the neighborhood, bought a house.
Van Andel noted that God has not forgotten the people living in the Brightmoor community and is meeting people's needs. The Hebrew word Hesed means “covenant-keeping love of the Father,” often translated as “steadfast love.” Frequent questions about its meaning open opportunities to speak of the desire to demonstrate God’s love within Detroit’s neighborhoods.
The Hesed ministry began through the street ministry of Bull and Van Andel, ordained, respectively, in the Reformed Church in America and the Christian Reformed Church. People still come to the ministry house through relationships developed on the streets. Others come through word of mouth. Now identified by many as the Prayer House, according to Van Andel, Hesed has also become known as the place to do laundry, get food or clothing, or take a shower—because tangible needs are being met daily. Hesed is a friend in the neighborhood.
Hesed’s formal gatherings are on Thursdays when lunch is provided and Bible study occurs, and on Fridays when discipleship class is held. The discipleship group often accompanies Bull and Van Andel when they preach in partner churches and occasionally hold worship services with other neighborhood gatherings of Christians.
The pastors recalled that on one of their first times doing street ministry in the neighborhood, they met a woman who was truly a "person of peace" (Luke 10:6). She prayed with them and related some painful experiences. She wondered if God was still real. Their presence on the street helped her to realize that God was calling her back; she has become a critical part of the discipleship group.
This unique ministry is the result of God calling both Van Andel and Bull to this work and of a collaborative church planting effort of the CRC and RCA. The two denominations established the Detroit Kingdom Enterprise Zone in 2012, paving the way for Hesed, whose leadership team is now comprised of representatives from CRC and RCA congregations near Detroit. Resonate Global Mission, the home and global mission arm of the CRC, supports the work as a partner. Additional support comes from various other churches.