Shining Brightly in the Dark

An Interview with Pastor Warren Gao, Milton Missionary Baptist Church

Have you ever had a phone call that made you feel hopeful, joyful and uplifted?

I have. Just now.

It’s been a strange and uncomfortable few weeks, stuck at home. My family has been trying to manage work and school-from-home, and while we’re doing our best, it’s nowhere close to ideal. Some days are harder than others, and I start feeling like I should carve the passing days in a tally on the wall… Maybe you’re in the same situation. Maybe you’re not. Either way, these are difficult times.

So when I called up Pastor Warren Gao of Milton Missionary Baptist Church to follow up on some news, I was forcefully reminded that Christians live in the tension of Good Friday and Easter, the deepest darkness allows us to shine our brightest.

Two Weeks Earlier

Creeping across the globe, COVID-19 was wreaking havoc in lives and economies. Whole societies were cut off from each other and heath care systems were already groaning under the weight of new burdens. Aware of what was to come, Pastor Gao’s congregation noticed that the doctors and nurses weren’t well-protected in the hospitals. At the same time, the virus had already begun to spread in Canada, with the Mississauga area experiencing significant infection rates. The church went to God in prayer, asking what they should do. One thing that came to their attention, was that while the hospital had money, bureaucracy and procedure slowed down their ability to quickly source the masks and equipment required to keep their medical staff safe. What they could do was directly assist the hospital in accessing appropriate medical supplies. After time in prayer and discernment, the church put a notice in the bulletin, asking for help.

The Power of Teamwork

To manage their calling well, Milton Missionary Baptist Church appointed five teams to help. They were the:

  1. Sourcing Team: These intrepid investigators searched around Canada and the world for certified providers
  2. Needs Team: The people got in touch with hospitals to determine what items were most needed to help keep their staff safe
  3. Finance Team: Numerically minded, the finance team is responsible for managing the donations
  4. Prayer Team: More than 10 people pray every day over the project, the finances and the people affected by COVID-19
  5. Documentation Team: Making donations to hospitals can be a complicated endeavor. These people are responsible for ensuring that nothing is out of place, including receipts and ensuring that every penny is used wisely

The Results

In a time of scarcity, when many of us are worried about our next paycheque, Milton Missionary Baptist Church has managed to raise nearly $50,000 to purchase much-needed supplies for local hospitals—they’ve even received donations from those who aren’t part of any church! Because of the grace of God and the willingness of his people, they’ve already donated 10,000 masks and other supplies to Trillium Hospital in Mississauga. They’ve managed to source an additional 13000+ masks and other supplies soon to be delivered to Halton Hospital. Working tirelessly, the church has moved mountains to help keep front-line workers safe and help those most affected by COVID-19.

The Final Touch

The boxes that arrive at the hospitals don’t say “From the good people of Milton Missionary Baptist Church.” They are marked, with great care, “Jesus loves you.” Because, as Pastor Gao says, “We want people to know that this is from Jesus and not from us.”

And so, as we head into Easter weekend, be encouraged. We are the redeemed people of Christ. He did die for us. And huddled in our homes, we can still shine brightly for the glory of Jesus, offering hope in times of trouble… just like right now.

Happy Easter. Christ is risen!

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