It started with a vision several years ago that turned into reality. In August the Glencross Mennonite Church set out to be God’s hands, feet and mouth to the world.
From August 12 to 18 we were in Fairford (Pinaymootang) Reserve under the banner of Athletes in Action. Fairford is approximately 3 and a half hours north of Winnipeg, Man. We had a team of 21 people plus one leader from Athletes in Action. The team ranged in age from seniors to under a year old and all played an important role in this outreach. Even the young ones were opening up opportunities to interact and connect with people who may not otherwise want to talk. With much planning and prayer we began our week of ministry, keeping an open mind and with the ability to be flexible in our program.
We held a children’s day camp at the Pinaymootang School which made it easy for the parents to drop off and pick up the children. It consisted of singing, skits, puppet shows, memorization, crafts and outdoor games. The singing started out quiet but by the end of the week was loud and enthusiastic. One of the leaders for the singing said ‘’singing was a really fun and effective way to connect with kids and seems to break down barriers and ease people’s shyness and fears’’. Bible stories and truths were told by using puppet shows, skits and object lessons.
After the singing and Bible lesson time the children would have an option of either doing crafts or outdoors games. Baseball was a big draw and usually three-quarters of the children would choose that. Other outdoors and some relay games were popular as well. There were also some amazing craft projects such as, painting bird houses (built and donated by a church member), paint and decorating small plant pots. The kids doing them really enjoyed that as well.
With kids involved there has to be snack time! This gave us another opportunity to interact with them. There were anywhere from 31 to 43 children each day at the camps and a total of 80 different children attended throughout the high-energy week. As one team member put it ‘’The last day, Friday’s camp was really exciting and had a good turn-out including many new children who hadn’t been prior. The highlight of the day was one of the boys accepting Jesus as his savior’’. Praise God!
One of the days we chose not to run our program but instead get involved and mingle with the community as they were holding their Treaty Days at the school grounds. The day was geared towards the children, so some team members were helping with organizing and running different games for the children, some participating in contests and some being judges in decorating and dress-up contests, while others sought out people to connect with.
The ladies of the team also organized a ladies tea, which saw 12 ladies from the community come. This was a time to connect with women from the area in a casual way. There was a devotional time as well as a testimony by one of the team members.
One morning we prepared and served a community breakfast, where we fed about 350 people. This was also a good time to visit with the local people and have the opportunity to share the gospel with them. We had also taken some Bibles along, which were handed out at the breakfast, to those that wanted them and they were gone very quickly.
On our last day we served a community barbeque, feeding between 350 to 400 people. Again this was a time for team members to converse with community members and build relationships and share the love of Jesus. After the meal we held a church service for the community. The service included a slideshow of the camps, some singing, testimonies from a few team members, and a devotional. A group of children from the day camps came up and sang some of the songs they had learned that week. The children were so excited to sing for their parents and grandparents. After the service several prominent community members went to the stage and repeatedly thanked the team for what we had done in and with their community. They then prayed a blessing over the team which was very humbling, encouraging and inspirational. They invited the team back to the community any time. The day and our week ended with some fireworks for the community back at the school grounds.
Even though there were some strong Christian leaders in the community there were still traditional beliefs and practices that others in the community were continuing and this seemed to be a cause of tension at times. We also saw the spiritual battles going on throughout our week, but praise God there were victories as well.
The Glencross Church mission team of 2018 was definitely a team that God brought together, as we saw the right people filling the correct roles throughout the trip. I believe each member made an impact in that community. As a team we would not have been able to do this without the support of our church family. They played an important support role in the outreach, with encouragement prayer and financial support. Many of the meals for the team were also premade by people in the church and then frozen. This was organized by a team member, and other team members helped with meal prep during the week. As a team we got to know each other in a different way and saw each other in different situations. We also had some great times of prayer and encouragement during our evening team debriefings. We learned more about ourselves and the role which God has called us.