Wednesday, March 7, 2012


One week ago our 21 students were scattered across the globe serving in a variety of capacities from filling potholes in Mexico to serving food in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.  One team helped with Northern Light Ministries in Mexico and the other came alongside New Beginnings Fellowship Baptist Church and Potter's Place Mission in Vancouver.  Bec, the female Intern, led the team in Mexico and Erin, the Assistant Kaléo Leader and I led the team in Vancouver.  Below Bec and I will each share some about our experiences in Mexico and Vancouver respectively.


For two weeks I had the privilege of leading 8 wonderful students on an exposure/experience trip to the small town of El Papalote, Baja California in Mexico. We partnered with a group named Northern Light Ministries that founded a Bible College and aims to train and equip Indigenous missionaries and offer further training to existing pastors in the area.

Our time was spread over many different activities, mainly focusing on children and youth ministry, and assisting in some of the construction that the mission was undertaking. We had amazing opportunities to lead a few of the church youth nights and Matthew had a shining moment of leading camp fire songs in English after the students tried (unfortunately without much success) to teach us some in Spanish.

A lot of soccer was played and some quality time on the tire swing was had enabling us to build relationship with the children and youth of the neighborhood. The most common frustration expressed throughout our team was our inability to communicate with words our love for the kids, but we endeavored to show them Christ’s love, to the best of our ability, through our actions.

Through the abundant generosity of the people that financially supported our team, we also had the amazing experience of blessing some families from within the congregations of churches in El Papalote. An elderly, and blind couple that attended one church, Neuva Era, was in desperate need of a bed. As a team we wanted to bless this couple and through some savvy haggling from Michael and Trevor we were able to provide them with a set-up that will give their bodies the rest that they need for many years to come. It was a very humbling experience for all of us, and one that we wont soon forget.

There were obvious difficulties that our team faced with the language barrier, but it was clear to see that God was working through that and I can safely say that every single one of us left a good friend behind in Mexico. 


Our team of 13 students and two leaders hopped into vans and drove to Vancouver, BC.  There we met up with Joe from New Beginnings and were able to partner with the plethora of ministries their church spearheads.  Much of their focus is on their surrounding neighbourhood which is made up primarily of single mothers living in subsidized housing units.  Many of these mothers are raising four, five or six children on their own and only have temporary live-in boyfriends who come and go.  This area is so full of hurt and brokenness but also so much hope.

Many of their ministries focus on helping reach the children in this area by tutoring elementary school children with their Say Yes program or helping send kids to camp for a week.  Many of these kids don't have parents either willing or able to make sure they are being fed, going to school, or doing their homework.  These things that we typically assume as being basic and necessary are not happening and the children suffer as a result.  These children then grow up and are unable to help their own children in these ways which creates a vicious cycle.  They have seen some wonderful success stories of children who came through these programs and the church's youth group and eventually went on to graduate High School and even University.  This is unheard of for many of these kids and by seeing people in the same situations as them doing so well gives them hope and something to strive for.

Other ways that New Beginnings helps their community is by donating and delivering furniture to families in need.  Our students were a huge help as they moved couches, dressers, lamps and tables on and off the the delivery truck.  For many of these single parents they don't have the resources or ability to get some of these things and so having our students help them so practically made a huge difference in their lives.

Whether helping with youth group or cleaning people's homes, our students dove in and helped wherever they were needed in this Inner-City Vancouver area.  Part way into our two weeks our team headed further downtown to East Hastings which is the heart of the Downtown Eastside.  There we partnered with Potter's Place Mission in running their two daily services from leading the music to helping in the kitchen to preaching.  Twice a day they serve a meal to whoever would like it but in order to eat they must sit through a service comprised of music and preaching.  This was a very stretching experience for many of our students as they suddenly had to tell their testimony, preach, or sit with and talk to somebody who was hungry and broken.

Much of our ministry at Potter's was coming alongside and speaking with the people who came for the services.  Hearing their stories, praying with them through their struggles, sitting and eating with those whom the world has turned it's back on broke our hearts and will stay with us always.  Never before had many of them painted a building while standing next to a drug dealer or walked down the street handing out roses to prostitutes as a reminder that they were beautiful in God's eyes.

Our time spent on East Hastings was wild, emotional and stretching but we wouldn't trade it for anything.  This trip moved many of our students (and leaders) deeply and will surely inspire us to help the orphaned, the widowed and the poor in their context wherever we go.  This trip has changed us all and the people of Vancouver's Inner City will not soon be forgotten.

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