Wow! I can't believe it has been so long since we've posted, sorry! It seemed as if things were moving at a snails pace as we struggled to do what "we" and "others" believed "we" were supposed to do. Bible Studies were sluggish and the prospect of a "church" as we understand "church" just didn't even seem feasible. Then we did what we should've done months ago, we shut out the voice of man, including our own, and returned to listening for the voice of God. We quickly heard the Holy Spirit whisper that "church" is the Body of Christ functioning to promote the Gospel and change lives through the lived out - loved out life of Jesus. The Holy Spirit challenged us on our original call to the Greater Metro Detroit Area and the "community center" concept versus a "traditional church." Then Heaven opened with new prospects and greater possibilities then mans way/our way could have ever put together or even imagined, so much so that within a couple weeks we found ourselves bulging out of our current space and needing to expand. Our landlord worked with us and we acquired about 2000 additional square feet in the current building we're in and dreaming of acquiring the remaining 4000 square feet for additional programming. Amarillo First Nazarene Church sent a Work & Witness Team over Spring Break and helped to refurbish unused space into a functioning martial arts training facility. God continues to bless as conversations with the Center Line, MI school district have opened up about after school programming or a potential partnership with the district to teach in one of their progressive educational academies. Lesson learned, listen to God and not man, or yourself, even when the voice of God seems, well, crazy.
We're praising God for helping us secure a site for our Lion's Roar Extreme Martial Arts ministry. While we've expended most of our capital we're trusting God and believing we're in the right location. It is an open 1300 square foot warehouse with a large secure parking lot, and room to expand when needed. The rest of our equipment is on order and we hope to be in this weekend to clean!! Pray for us as we begin this next phase of ministry; for the students needed to meet expenses and growth; and the funds needed to continue ministry.
Wednesday evening, September 2nd Mission: Go Detroit launched its first in home Bible Study and Discipleship group with 11 people! We couldn't be more excited to see what God is doing. We are making plans to immediately launch a second weekly Bible Study/Discipleship group a few miles away in coming weeks. The goal is church plants planting churches. First, the Osborn neighborhood then allowing the Lord to lead us east, west and south deeper into the heart of Detroit! Go GOD!!
We went door to door meeting our neighbors and inviting them to join us for Bible study beginning next Wednesday night. In recent years I've stopped doing this because I've had doors slammed in my face and even had the police called on me. But it was awesome as Rochelle, Jack, and I made our way from house to house introducing ourselves. We prayed before we left and are trusting God to open doors and further conversations.
One neighbor said she was not "traditionally religious," whatever that means? If she knew me she know I'm not religious either, I'm a follower of Jesus trying to bring others into His fold. God, create receptive hearts to hear Your Word to meet Your Son.
We are inviting people to become part of our ministry team. We are starting with home Bible Studies as we build a core team of worshippers, leaders, and team members. These are exciting days and we believe God is going to provide people with a heart and passion for Detroit and ministry.
Since our last post we have traveled over 3200 miles from Detroit to Iowa to Texas and back, and we managed to fly from Texas to Ft. Lauderdale, FL and back as well. We've spoke in a variety of different churches and worshipped with God's amazing people across the US. We secured a ministry site as we share facilities with another congregation for a while. We are in the process of purchasing Lion's Roar equipment and contacting schools about after school programming. And, we've added a new member to the Mission: Go Detroit team; Bobby G., a 3 year old retired Greyhound who sticks so close to jack that you don't know here Jack let's off and Bobby G. begins.
Pastor returns to city he thought was in his past
Posted: June 4, 2015 - 6:35pm
Shawn Fouts’ last service as senior pastor at First Nazarene Church was Sunday. By mid-afternoon congregational members were helping his family load furniture and appliances into a U-Haul truck.
By 6 a.m. Monday, he was headed east on Interstate 40 in the 26-foot truck that pulled a car. Rochelle, his wife, was in the crowded Toyota pulling a motorcycle. They were headed to where he grew up, to a place he never thought he would return when he left more 30 years ago.
“It really came from my father,” said Fouts, who grew up in Flint, Mich., a hardscrabble factory city an hour northwest of Detroit. “He was a General Motors worker, and hated the factory environment. He didn’t want that for us. He pushed his boys to do something better than what he could do.”
Fouts took that to heart. He went to Olivet Nazarene Univeristy in Illinois to play football. It was there he would meet his wife, but a hip injury ended his football career.
He moved to Atlanta where a brother lived and became a police officer. A visit to the Amarillo area where his wife Rochelle’s parents were led to joining the Amarillo police department in 1988.
But Fouts felt the tug to preach, which sent him to two Nazarene universities to study.
That led to 11 years as a Nazarene pastor in Snyder and Plainview.
He got his doctorate at Texas Tech and then spent nine years in higher education, including four years as dean of career and technical education at Amarillo College.
They were attending First Nazarene Church in 2011 when the pastor resigned. Fouts became interim pastor with no intention to go back into ministry until the Lord had other ideas. In 2012, he left AC to become the church’s senior pastor.
“It’s been an incredible three years,” said Fouts of church growth that’s now on three campuses. “It’s been quite a journey.”
It was a journey that didn’t seem to possibly include the depressed area of Detroit, where one of America’s great cities has turned into urban blight through economic ruin. That place of Fouts’ youth was a dot in life’s rearview mirror — until Thanksgiving week 2013.
Fouts was in his office, working on a sermon, when he felt God’s calling to return to his home area. To do what, he wasn’t sure. But he also had two daughters attending West Texas A&M that would graduate the next year.
“I asked the Lord if I could have a year,” he said, “and so never felt another thing for a year. Never mentioned it to my wife, nothing. So I’m thinking it could have been some bad enchiladas.”
Fast forward to Tuesday before Thanksgiving 2014. Fouts was again in his office. Rochelle, an instructor at AC, sent him an email: “I have to ask you, I’ve spent a whole year arguing with God feeling like we’re supposed to go to Detroit. What do you think?”
“I thought, ‘Are you kidding me?’” Fouts said. “I had never mentioned a word to her about Detroit.”
Rochelle kept hearing radio commercials about restoring hope to devastated Detroit, and wondering if that was meant for them.
“It just confirmed the calling was genuine,” she said. “That it wasn’t a bad meal, just confirmation.”
So six months later, they, along with young son Jackson, made their way to Detroit this week to a 1,300-square foot house in the inner city they have not seen, but secured by the Nazarene church.
It’s called Mission Go Detroit, something Fouts is starting under the Nazarene church umbrella. Fouts, a martial arts instructor, will open Lions Roar Extreme Martial Arts as a Christ-center outreach to inner city youth at a building to be found later.
It will include Bible lessons and after-school tutoring with Rochelle. Eventually there will be a worship center, likely drug and alcohol counseling and a community garden. The harvest is ripe.
“The thing about Shawn,” said Dave Menefee, now interim pastor at First Church, “is he has an astute awareness of people on the fringe. Sometimes it’s easy in church to have blinders on and don’t see beyond close proximity. But he has the ability to connect with people like that.”
And it happens to be back in Michigan, where, yes, you can go home again.
Jon Mark Beilue is an AGN Media columnist. He can be reached at jon.beilue@amarillo
.com or 806-345-3318. His “Out of the Beilue” video series appears on amarillo.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jonmarkbeilue.
Wow, I can't believe it's been 3 weeks ago today that we pulled into Detroit. It's been seemingly non-stop since we've been here. God has blessed us with great neighbors. Rochelle and her mom have been transforming a house into a home. Cori arrived a few days after we did with her mom and Megan. Jack's playing baseball. We've begun speaking in churches. We're finding our way around a very complex city (praise God for Google Maps). We've been tourists. We've gotten Jack ready for kindergarten. And today Rochelle's mom Joan Tregellas flies home to Texas. We're adjusting, feeling humbled and blessed. Thanks for your prayers.
Did you know that in Detroit the left turn arrow follows the green light? In places I've lived before the left turn arrow comes prior to the green light for through traffic, not comes after it. That has almost caused a wreck or two. Speaking of wrecks, We were rear-ended last week while waiting in the left turn lane to tun into a Habitat For Humanity Re-Store. We're pretty sure the other driver had no license and she said she was in her mother's rental car. Doesn't matter, Michigan is a No-Fault insurance state so each person is responsible for their own damages. Glad we had collision coverage. But praise the Lord no one was injured, and we've found a new favorite place to shop.
Did you know that in Michigan they make it EXTREMELY difficult to get a Michigan license? I was able to get mine but Rochelle has to go back. You better be prepared knowing what hospital you were born in, how old your parents were when you were born (personally I was too young to remember), what county you were born in, and have more proof of identification than it takes to get a U.S. Passport. But on the bright side, for a small fee you can get an enhanced license to go in and out of Canada without a Passport.
But some things are very familiar, like roads not running in any kind of logical fashion, stopping and picking back up again, curving in multiple different directions while maintaining their designation as East or West, despite the direction they actually travel, and changing names.
Bigger learning curve in areas we never expected. But God is so faithful!
We arrived June 3rd and have been working hard to make a house a home (well, actually Rochelle and her mom have been working harder than I have I think. I'm just manual labor). The kitchen is being renovated by those two, and the boxes are really rabbits in disguise as they seem to keep multiplying.
Jack has had a baseball game and another tomorrow. We're scheduling churches to speak in and share our story, and getting to know our way around. We have great neighbors, Mark and Cynthia and looking forward to getting to meet more.
Besides some plumbing issues (we're in a house that was built in 1937 so some things are to be expected) it's been a smooth transition. We miss our family and everyone in Amarillo; our church family and friends who sent us to Detroit as their missionaries for Jesus' Kingdom, friends and business associates from Team National, and our friends and colleagues at Extreme Martial Arts.
God is doing great things and we are grateful. Keep us in your prayers! Cori arrives next Tuesday.