My name is David McCray, born and raised on the west side of Detroit.
Because of the reputation that my city has, most people would consider that I was a “bad kid”. That’s why I believe most people are scared of Detroit. Now as long as I have been living here I have never really been in any immediate danger, but I will say that it is unpredictable, and it is wise to keep your eyes open. Still, growing up here as a kid was pretty normal for me. There are these things called food stamps where I come from and they are the reason my family and I survived. Food stamps are basically a debit card for food, and you do have a limit. I’m saying all this to point out the struggles that me and my family went through. Waiting until the beginning of the month just to have a bite to eat was enough in itself. And it was also really hard to pay our rent every month. When I tell you that I have been evicted out f my house at least 7 to 8 times, I am not stretching the truth.
Now, an ordinary person would believe that someone who lived my kind of life would have something to be angry at, something to rebel against. But I would like to call myself a rebel, simply because of the fact that I am not doing what the rest of the world is doing. If everybody is doing the same thing (which seems to be mostly negative), then that’s not rebellion. Rebellion would be acting different from the world, stuff like going to church, reading the Bible, loving your fellow neighbor, that’s rebellion. I am a rebel!
I owe everything I have to the people around me. Positive role models like Jacob Blakesley, Jeff Stoker, Rick Macgregor, Troy Farrar, and many, many others! I first started going to church when I was about 5 or 6, but I never really paid attention. So as time went on I eventually stopped going to church. I started becoming the guy I dreaded becoming: the guy who believed that he didn’t need Jesus. I guess this is what you could call the down-fall part of my life. Along with the down-fall came fights, drugs, peer pressure, and sex. Honestly I wish I could go back and tell myself that there is a better path, but I don’t even think I would have listened to myself. I was in so deep that I thought nothing could bring me out of the rut I was in. Then what happened next I couldn’t really believe myself. I actually started going back to church!
A guy named John Atkinson seemed to come out of nowhere and start working for what is now called Detroit Hope Congregation. Pastor John planned this thing called Pizza Church, and at first I mostly came for the pizza. Over time I started seeing the benefits of being a Christian, and I wanted to know more. So I became more and more involved. Then Pastor John hired some interns, and this is when I first met Jacob Blakesley. I did more and more church activities, met new friends and great mentors.
In the next few months things changed and the church was left without a pastor. The church remained closed for a little while. This left all the kids that came to church scratching their heads, wondering if there was going to be any Pizza Church again. About a year later we had a new pastor, someone that we didn’t expect. Jacob Blakesley (the intern) had come back to replant the church. It took a while to get used to him being the Pastor, but he worked until everyone was comfortable.
Now this is where my real journey begins! As soon as I got to know Jacob, he introduced me to a totally different lifestyle. His first year there he told me about Ventures, and it was awesome. It’s basically Community of Christ teenagers in Michigan getting together, having fun, and planning a church service. This is where my transformation began, because I saw the relationships between the kids that I met at Ventures. There was barely any drama, nobody was fighting, everybody worked together. I started wondering how could I obtain something like this at Detroit Hope.
That was my original motivation, but even with all the changes I was going through, I still fell short of the glory of God. Five years have passed and I have to admit I have grown a lot. Jacob and I became best friends. He has helped my family and me more times than I can count. I became his right-hand man! Instead of saying, “Hi Jacob!”, people ask “Hi Jacob, where’s David?”
I used to be a kid who cared what others thought about him, who fell under the weight of peer pressure, and who feared himself so much that he couldn’t sleep at night. And I turned into a man who would rather go to church than to a party, who is determined to bring Detroit out of this destruction, and who would gladly preach the word of Christ no matter where he goes. After all the trials and tribulation I have been through and all the times I have fallen, I rose from the pain and sorrow refreshed and ready to serve the Lord.
I am now an intern at Detroit Hope Congregation. And I pray that this will take me to levels beyond in my ministry. I pray that one day I can be like those people who gave me hope when I gave up. I pray that one day I can change the world. I know that might be a lot to say, but from the things that people have changed in me, I believe that it CAN BE DONE!
David McCray is serving as a World Service Corps Intern at Detroit Hope Congregation and loving it! He’s enrolled at Wayne County Community College. Right now David is working on a couple of gospel rap songs and making a video series for Detroit Hope called “Word on the Street”. His girlfriend, Genelle, is a strong cornerstone in his faith – she says the right things when he’s down and holds up his faith.
Find him on Facebook.