In Bible times the people of God passed down stories for hundreds of years. Their children, and children’s children, and their children all recounted the ways He guided their families through the wilderness to the Promised Land, and how from the line of David came the Savior of the world- Jesus! They’re still passing along this tradition…
This proves that the wonder of God’s work in our lives never grows old. Even after many months and years, the excitement doesn’t expire.
I guess 3 months isn’t that long then; the length of time it’s been since the Canada trip. I’ve been eager to blog of the experiences that our team had in Winnipeg for so long, but it’s just one of those things that I’ve pushed lower and lower on the to-do list. But finally, here I am with a few days wide open just to write! I can’t tell you how honored I am to testify about God’s goodness!
Winnipeg was a 7 day trip there and back. Short? Maybe. But by no means too short for God to work in some pretty big ways….no HUGE ways!! I’m even breaking the trip into 3 posts because it would take an hour to read if I compiled all the highlights together in one 😉 :
- A semi-detailed, general overview of the week’s mission projects – this post 😉 .
- A testimony of salvation – God Moments.
- Sight seeing photos – Exploring Winnipeg.
Before I go down memory lane, let me first say Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! faithful friends, for your prayers for our church team this summer! By God’s grace, 9 people trusted in the Lord for the first time and dozens of others had seeds of hope planted in their hearts! Our team also developed a special bond among each other that I ever dreamed possible. The delayed flights, missing luggage (haha, guess who’s??), rental cars, mixed up directions, early mornings and late nights, ice cream trips, ministry groups, and worship time were all part of his plan to help us understand his blessing of Christian community in a whole new way.
It was a joy to serve alongside our new friends, Danny, Jeremy and Tony from e3 partners and Pastor Paul from Living Word Temple in Northend Winnipeg. Through them we received some awesome training on the local culture, how to share our testimonies, ask questions which spark spiritual conversations, pray over people, and present the Gospel. Then we were sent into the harvest!
Seeing how LWT‘s weekly food bank functioned was inspiring. So many servant-hearted members of the church volunteered their time and energy to be sure families in their community were well taken care of with breads, canned goods, fruits and vegetables, and also kitchen supplies and simple toiletries. We got to pitch in and help unload the truck, then several team members had the opportunity to spend time in conversation and prayer with many needy families who came for food.
This was one of our primary strategies for engaging with people during the trip, and I was SOOOOO nervous. Now it wasn’t so hard walking the streets praying for the city…but like I’ve said before, something about the idea of going up to a perfect stranger and striking up a conversation about God and spiritual things is downright uncomfortable. Yep, even for this southern girl. I thought I was the only one until we hit the ground other team members voiced their own feelings of nervousness. But God hasn’t called us to be comfortable. He calls us to obedience. Being nervous isn’t wrong, so long as it doesn’t keep us from boldly following Him. In Canada God’s strength shone through our weakness as we stepped out proclaiming Jesus’ Name, and many met Jesus for the first time!
Anyway, so paired up in groups of 2-3 we were assigned specific streets surrounding the church, and then we all scattered in different directions.
The very action of being vocal was a big stretch for most of us. An ice breaker question we learned is, “If God could do a miracle in your life, what would you have Him do?” The first lady my group stopped was instantly intrigued. J lit up at the idea of a miracle and told us she wished He would bring her broken family back together. That was our open door to pray for her. With her consent we laid hands on her shoulder and prayed on the spot. Afterward we gave her some material about the local church. I remember her excited smile. She said that it was no coincidence that we happened upon her in town that day.
We were a little more comfortable with the initial approach. My personal goal was to go deeper than just asking if the person needed prayer. I wanted to advance to the next step of actually sharing my testimony and asking someone if they knew who Jesus was. And it happened. Stopped at the corner of a street I met A and her grandson who were waiting on the bus. I bent down and commented on how cute the baby was as he licked on a sucker, which struck up a good conversation. A was already a believer, but it was a big season of crisis in her life, as both her parents were in the hospital. She was overwhelmed with worry and emotionally drained, needing some to fill her with encouragement. That’s when I was able to share of the time several years ago when my younger brother was very ill and how God pulled us through as a family and taught me to depend on Him for strength each day. I finished praying for her just as the bus drove up. I’ll never forget her smile as she waved and disappeared down another street.
In the morning three other young women and I went on a “muffin prayer walk”. We went up and down the streets passing out muffins and cookies, using that as an outlet to talk to people and pray for them. It was crazy how very different two homes could be. One man we approached in his yard was so full of life and obviously already knew the Lord. He was so grateful that we would be out ministering to his neighbors that he insisted on praying for us! What a blessing! As we continued to walk we reached a home the leader of our group was familiar with. So we knocked on the door and the woman who answered immediately grabbed onto J’s arm and pleaded for help out of an abusive situation. It made my heart so heavy. We prayed for God to intervene. A second later an older woman came stumbling out the doorway, very obviously intoxicated. We offered her a muffin and asked her about prayer. She announced that she didn’t need prayer, but her boyfriend certainly did because he got in trouble a lot. Haha…I said a prayer for her confused mind and lost soul under my breath as she filled her arms with pastries and nearly tumbled down the stairs and across the street. Only God knows what happened to her…
Follow-Up and Discipleship
This is one aspect of ministry that many mission teams miss out on, which I’m so glad we got to be a part of. When you’re on the ground and leading people to the Lord, what happens to those new Christians after they pray the prayer? Sometimes you just walk away and expect him or her to go find a church to plug into on their own. However, e3 partners has a very important structure which includes initiating follow-up meetings with every new believer, or those who were still on the fence and wanted to learn more about Christ. Such was the case with this man below. R heard the Gospel day one from one of our groups. He reconnected with those same team members (I just happened to be around) the next day for a Bible lesson and deeper discussion about his faith. God led R to recommit his life to the Lord that afternoon and has since been meeting with local believers from Living Word Temple for discipleship training. Last we heard from him, R seemed ecstatic about his growth since August!
First Nations traditional dance
Before coming on the trip I had no clue what the people we’d be ministering to would be like. Would they look like me? Would they speak English? Or maybe French? Would they have any unusual customs? What cross-cultural barriers would arise between us? Because I had just returned from Uganda, I thought I was prepared for anything. Then I met the Aboriginal community that populates a great part of Northend Winnipeg and totally had to erase any expectations. Being the indigenous people of the Americas, in the States we’d most often refer to them with the terms “Indian” or “Native American”. However the people call themselves First Nations. There beliefs and culture and lifestyle are completely different from what I imagined.
One morning we joined a local First Nations group and got to observe the traditional dance. It was pretty fascinating!
Night of celebration & Worship
People from so many nationalities came together at Living Word Temple for an evening of praise and celebration for all that God has done in our lives and in the community. That building was bursting with joy and voices! One fun thing that Jeremy did was when singing the chorus for “I’m Trading My Sorrows” he asked each nation represented to sing “Yes, Lord! Yes, Lord! Yes, yes, Lord!” in their own language. It was beautiful! Heaven must be like that…people from every nation, tribe and tongue joining together singing songs to the Father in unison all day long!
No matter where I go, somehow I always end up with an audience of little girls and lots of goofy pictures 🙂 During the celebration I had the opportunity to pray for healing over one of these younger ones, then share the gospel with her. So special!