The Luke Project 52

“I don’t see it for you.”

In 2015, Brad Garrison received a phone call from President Maier — of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod Michigan District — encouraging him to attend a “boot-camp for entrepreneurial startups” at Hillsdale College. The boot-camp was looking for people who had ideas that would color outside the lines.

Brad had an idea. His idea was to start a church that could successfully leverage a strong digital presence. Brad was not new to ministry or church-planting. He had served as a pastor for a plant in West Des Moines, which had grown tremendously during his tenure.

Brad came into the boot-camp excited to share his promising, innovative startup idea. The boot-camp was being run by the FiveTwo Network. Brad presented his idea to Bill Woolsey (founder of FiveTwo) during the course of the boot-camp.

Bill considered Brad’s idea and told him, “I don’t see it for you.”

Brad could have left then and there. No one likes being told they’re not the right person for a job, but FiveTwo wasn’t done with Brad. He was the right guy for a startup; he just happened to have the wrong idea. So, Brad went back to the drawing board. And over the remainder of the boot-camp, an idea began to germinate. But the germination process really began in 1976.

In 1976, Brad became a registered pharmacist. He worked as a pharmacist from 1976 to 1984, when he graduated from Concordia Seminary with his Master of Divinity and set out for Des Moines. In 1999, Brad moved from Iowa to Detroit, Michigan to care for his sick parents. He took up pharmacy once again, while still volunteering as a pastor.

Brad’s wife, Sherie, has worked as a neonatal nurse for over four decades. Her passion is caring for pregnant mothers and infant children. Between the two of them, they have extensive knowledge and experience with healthcare in the United States.

If you didn’t already know, the infant mortality rate in Detroit is 19.9 deaths per 1000 live births compared to a 6.6 national average. This is a crisis.

The problem is not availability of healthcare, nor is it the quality of healthcare professionals or facilities. The problem often boiled down to relationships. Low-income, pregnant women often receive poor interpersonal treatment when they visit medical facilities. As a result, these women do not return for future appointments to receive the care they and their children need.

So, for the remainder of the FiveTwo boot-camp, Brad developed an idea for a mobile neonatal clinic, which prioritized relationships… without compromising on healthcare.

By the end of boot-camp, Brad (with FiveTwo’s help) had developed a 3-page business plan/canvas. Over the next year, FiveTwo worked with Brad to turn his 3-page plan into a more fully formed 39-page strategy. In October of 2016, Brad had what he calls a “minimal viable prototype”.

In other words, he had a boat that floats, but he needed the current to take it.

At first, Brad, Sherie and their team served 4-6 patients per quarter in two exam clinics in an old, dilapidated Presbyterian church. Now, The Luke Project 52 Clinic serves over 60 patients per clinic, 2 days a month, from 3-7pm. Additionally, they provide hot meals, clothing, and childcare for visiting mothers and their children. When clinics are not taking place, the Luke Project conducts post-clinic follow ups and prep work at their offices. Every service provided is free of charge.

Recent developments include a partnership with the Detroit Health Department to develop an Immunization Center. They also have re purposed a full-sized ambulance for mobile ultrasound services.

They have partnered with the University of Michigan, whose doctors now work at Luke Project clinics, along with nurses from Concordia Ann Arbor. These professionals are not paid by the Luke Project. There are only two paid staff members for clerical work; every other person that serves with The Luke Project 52 Clinic is a volunteer.

So, why the Luke Project 52? It comes from John 6 and the feeding of the five thousand.

Jesus is sitting on the mountainside with his disciples; he sees the great crowd following him and asks Philip, “Where should we get bread for these people?”

Philip doesn’t see any way to make that happen. The numbers are too great; they could never afford enough bread to give every person even a single bite. A boy in the crowd has five loaves of bread and two small fish, but doesn’t scratch the surface of solving their problem.

Jesus, though, is unfazed. Instead, He gives thanks for what was given and gave it to all who needed it. In the end, what was given was more than enough.

Brad Garrison believes everything you need to help your community already exists within your community. Give it to the Lord and see what He does with it.

If you would like to know more about The Luke Project 52 Clinic, please visit thelukeproject52clinic.org.