It has been almost two weeks since the ‘Impact’ team from New Brunswick and Boaz Global Ministries left Slave Lake Wesleyan Church in Slave Lake, Alberta, Canada. What a week. To recap, we met over 40 children, had one family (mom and two children) give their lives to the Lord and this mom also had her baby dedicated.
Since the team has left, I have taken every opportunity to stay connected to the children and families we have met. This is kind of overwhelming for just one person, but God seems to be providing me with the strength.
Not only are the children coming at weird and wonderful times, they are bringing their friends. I have since met approximately 15 more children who have heard about what has been going on here.
Let me try to paint a picture for you: On the last night of our activities with the Boaz team, we shut the programs down at approximately 9 p.m. Several children from the neighborhood would not leave. The Boaz team members were all inside the church and as we tried to close the door from the inside, several of the children were pushing on the door from the outside, begging us not to close.
There was not a dry eye inside the building as we all observed the red and white fingers of six little hands holding onto the door. The children remained outside begging us to remain opened. These children tried to find any way into the building, including finding an open window downstairs and, all the sudden, we heard about six to seven children running up the stairs to get one last hug or encouraging word.
This is our church of today, not the church of tomorrow. The reality, I could have the church opened every day and it would be full of 40-50 children searching for a safe place. I could have approximately 10-20 moms in the building during the day with their small children.
These families are poor. They are 95 percent Native. They live in an area of town called Little Compton, a difficult place to be. The church is located in the middle of this neighborhood. They have figured out I live next door to the church and these children are coming to me, begging to open the church.
They feel loved, they feel accepted and they feel valued. When God looks down on this neighborhood, he does not see “Compton.” He sees loving, respectful children who need an opportunity to dream.
We asked one little girl what her dreams were. She looked at us with a blank stare on her face. No one had ever asked her that before. She made some funny statements about being a bird or butterfly, and after several hours she came back and said she would like to be a teacher. (And boy, would she make a good teacher).
I mentioned this later to her mother. She laughed and said, “that will never happen!” I asked the mom why and she said, “Because (we) will never have that kind of opportunity.” The ability to have dreams and hopes are not possible here.
A few days later, I asked the mother, “If you could do anything in the world right now, what would it be?” She told me she would like to help us “give the youth hope!” That is powerful.
As I write this, I expect several children to stop by the church. Fortunately, I have my daughter home from university, so she will be available to open the church for the kids. I will join them and we will serve the children dinner. (They are always hungry.)
As we go forward, we need to offer an after-school program. We need to feed the children. The mom who wants to help is having her sixth or seventh child in October, so we are going to have a baby shower for her. This mom is the one who gave her life to the Lord as well.
We now have three new people attending Sunday morning service, and I have been able to recruit a few volunteers to help with different programs. Boaz Global has decided to partner with us and helped fund two new programs for the children:
LAUNCH Kidz 6-11 (Love, Acceptance, Understanding, Nourish, Comfort, Heal)
DREAM Teenz 12-up (Discover, Reach, Encourage, Activate, Mentor)
We will continue with our Friday night outreach starting at the end of October. We will kick things off with a local talent music night, as well as a Halloween “Trunk of Treat.” I may be able to recruit another church in town to partner with us. My goal is to have every church in town do one for all the different neighborhoods. We could send the children and their parents from one to the other. (A team from Boaz Ministries in Fredericton, New Brunswick will be back to help make this a big success.)
At the the church in Hondo, we had standing room only as we had a team from Camp Living Waters share. We had several new families attend.
As we go forward with Hondo, I will preach there once a month with several “outreach” events planned. Family-type days work well there, and we are planning a fall picnic with hay rides and a bonfire. Another event is planned for the first part of December, an old-time Christmas carol sing-a-long. (This year, we have a small band lined up.)
All glory and praise goes to God. It is through the continued prayer from our partners in North Gower, Brockville and Fredericton that all these things are being accomplished. It is only through prayer and the moving of the Holy Spirit that anything of a spiritual nature can be accomplished.