'Homeless Jesus' continues to inspire

Reverend Buck of St. Alban's Episcopal Church, sits with the 'Homeless Jesus' statue in Davidson, North Carolina.WCNC News Video Screenshot

Timothy Schmalz's "Homeless Jesus" statue is in the spotlight once again after a Detroit pastor offered to place the artwork in front of his church. 

Schmalz hopes to have a Homeless Jesus in every city, and sees it as a powerful inspiration. 

"It's putting it really within the grasp of everyone," he told the Detroit Free Press on Sunday. "Most representations of Jesus are unattainable. But it's a sculpture you can merge with, something you can experience."

The 7-foot-long bronze statue features a man sleeping on a bench - his face covered with a blanket. The figure is identifiable as Jesus because of the wounds on his feet. 

Homeless Jesus appears in Chicago, Phoenix, Knoxville, Charleston, West Virginia, Austin, Buffalo, and other cities, but has not always been welcome. 

Churches in New York City and Toronto have reportedly turned the statue away, and the Davidson, North Carolina statue has drawn complaints. 

An anonymous benefactor who grew up in the suburbs of Detroit offered Schmalz $32,000 to make a Homeless Jesus for Detroit. 

"It's needed there," the donor said. "And then I got a hold of Tim and said I'd like to do this."

The man prefers the statue sit in front of Sts. Peter and Paul Church in downtown Detroit, and Pastor Gary Wright approved the request. 

"As a piece of art, it scrambles our brain. It makes you stop and think," Wright explained. "The typical person is going to look at it and say, 'Oh, that's what I don't want to be like.'

"And then we notice it's Christ and it makes us stop and think. The main message is that in the heart of each person is the presence of God."