March Break was held across Ontario and Quebec earlier this month, and while many of us headed for the sunshine, several CBOQ churches seized this unique opportunity for ministry to students.
A group of high school students, led by Carl Walters of First Baptist Church, Tillsonburg, visited Parkdale Neighbourhood Church (PNC) over March Break to experience life in this welcoming community for those living on the margins in Toronto.
During their visit, the students participated in a weekly drop-in at PNC which included a “family style” lunch, prepared by the community members themselves. As PNC Managing Director Erinn Oxford relates:
“Entering a room with 140 people you don’t know, most of whom are quite vulnerable can understandably be a daunting task. For many of us the issues of being under-housed or addicted to a substance or dealing with a significant mental health issue feel foreign. But when you sit down to share a meal with someone struggling with those exact things that you realize how little difference there is between you and them. That someone is a person, with a significant story to tell. And while the details of your stories may differ, the common thread is that you are both made in God’s image, broken and in need of grace. By the end of their visit, one student affirmed, ‘I heard PNC being described as a family, but didn’t believe it until I experienced it. There is a real, unique sense of connection here.'”
To learn more or visit Parkdale Neighbourhood Church, contact Erinn Oxford at email@example.com or (647) 926-6352.
In another corner of Ontario, Ambassador Baptist Church offered a March Break Day Camp for 39 elementary-age children in west Windsor, 80% of whom have no church background. Pastor Scott Dakin reports:
“At our opening sing session, three boys pulled me aside and said, ‘We misunderstood the flyer that was sent out. You see we’re atheists and the flyer said it was going to be fun and games.’ I smiled and responded, ‘Hey guys, it is going to be fun. After the singing, we’re doing crafts and games then having a great hot dog lunch. And today we are telling the Creation story as we believe it from the Bible, but it’s up to you if you want to believe it or not. No pressure. Hang in and I think you’ll have a great time.’ By the end of the day these kids were quite engaged and listening to what we were saying, and having fun. We never know what is fully going on through these events – how God’s Spirit might work in young hearts.”