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But it is a start. Regardless of whether it reaches 5 or 500 people, a single patch of land allows Christians to minister in a nonthreatening way, Hebron says. Her church recently baptized neighbors who became involved in the Oakland Avenue garden. "The church and this initiative are impacting people's lives in a way that is saying we accept them and love them and they make a difference to us," Hebron says.

Similarly, Schumack says gardening helps restore broken relationships—with the earth and with each other—a view that is not so far removed from Score's perspective. In spite of their differences, both agree: If Detroit were to receive a check for billions from Washington, D.C., to fix everything, it would not be able to repair broken relationships within the city. Only God can do that.

"Christians will have a role and God will work more broadly to make Detroit a better place," Score says. "People will look at Detroit and say, 'Wow, what a comeback.'"

Melissa Steffan is Christianity Today's editorial resident.

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Planting New Life in Detroit's Vacated Landscape