A Glimpse into my Journey to Urban Promise Toronto
Uncertain BeginningsThough I wish I could, I cannot truthfully say that I always knew it was my calling to serve as an urban missionary, and I cannot truthfully say that I know it is now. But it is the next step in my walk with Christ, though the journey that has led to this step has been anything but easy...
"But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them...How beautiful are the feet which bring good news!" (Romans 10: 14-15)
"And what do you want to be when you grow up, honey?" This is a common question we were all asked as young children to which we gave often humorous answers. But as we grow the question transforms into, "So what are you going to do after high school?", to which we attempt to answer on the grounds of uncertainties.
As most high school students know, there is intense pressure early on in secondary school to decide the direction one's life is going to take. Grade nines who hardly know where their classes were or how to navigate the hallways without getting ran over, are bombarded with adamant teachers and guidance counselors who insist that they should know exactly what career they plan on pursuing or at least the university they wish to attend.
Though this might be an exaggeration, the pressure from the public school system to plan one's future is intimidating to say the least. Perhaps they assume that we will fall by the wayside and end up flipping burgers the rest of our lives unless they prompt us along every step of the way. We are taught that with the right amount of hard work, we can do anything we want...so we better choose what we want, hop on that train and don't look back. God's desire or will for our lives is definitely not a factor.
As a high school student, the possibility that I could miss the train that led me to my future sent me scrambling to the guidance counselor with the hope that she could possibly show me what-the-heck I was supposed to do with my life.
I did well in high school, and my range of courses was broad. I took everything from visual arts to biology to business. I enjoyed school in general, and had no idea which subject I wanted to pursue, but in my peripherals I saw my friends choosing the subject, and then career, and then university that they were going to strive for. And here I was without a clue.
So at sixteen I sat before the nasally sounding guidance counselor and asked her what I was supposed to do after high school - a question that I should have been asking God.
Nudges from the Father
Often times, Christians have a tendency to say that God is being "silent" when, in fact, He could very well be screaming in our faces. Our ignorance and selfishness blocks out the answers that He has, many times, laid right before our noses. But blessed be the Lord, who opens our eyes to see pieces of the plan He has for us.
Such was the case for me and my search for a purpose. Summer of 2012 was coming to a close, and I was heading into grade twelve. I was speaking to a friend, and he asked the dreaded question: "So, what are you going to do after high school?" I admitted that I didn't have a clue, but somewhere along in the conversation I mentioned urban missions work had always interested me. He then told me about a lady he knew of who worked with children in inner city Toronto, with a Christian organization called Urban Promise Toronto, and gave me the woman's email.
Never having met her in my life, I emailed Ruthann Brock and asked her about what she did in her ministry. Throughout the series of emails, I bombarded her with question after question, and she answered them diligently, and eventually mentioned a way I could get involved: through a year long internship. I applied immediately.
However, the process leading up to the internship was not smooth sailing. My application got lost, I didn't hear back from the organization after the interview, and the question of the expenses that went along with the year loomed in my mind. But as always, God pulled through, and reassured me time after time that this was where He wanted me in the fall.
This reassurance didn't come to me through a flashing sign on the side of the highway, or writing in the sky, but instead a series of events falling into place and the door being opened. I believe God often works in this way - He asks us to take small steps of faith, and if anywhere along the way God closes the door, then that is not where we are supposed to be. He will continue to close and open doors until He has us exactly where He wants us. And no matter what the circumstance, where God wants us is the best place we could be.
The Land of the Free...?
I will now just take a second to fill you in on what ignited my desire to work on the urban missions field. Like many things in my life, it was a gradual interest that began to form, sparked by various things in my everyday life. Throughout my entire life, the idea of being a missionary in an urban environment interested me more than flying overseas to a third-world country to evangelize. Something about working with people from a similar culture, yet an entirely different walk of life intrigued me immensely. I have always found it odd that Canada is supposed to be a place in which anybody can be anything they want to be, because we are so abundantly blessed as a country, yet factors such as race and economic status prohibit many Canadians from achieving this, despite the fact that it is one of the most developed countries in the world.
We boast that we live in "the land of the free", yet many living in certain urban communities are enslaved by a vicious cycle of drugs, alcoholism, gangs, and broken families. This is where my heart is - it is these people that I wish to serve.
Christian rap artist Lecrae put out a song in 2008 called Beautiful Feet, which speaks of inspiring true stories which occurred in broken, urban communities. It is a song urging us to turn from our comfortable ways of life to look at the projects and the people there who are hurting. This song was the final spark that ignited my desire to serve in this way.
"You never knew the streets, but truth is what you preach/ I pray that more would be burdened to have beautiful feet." ~Lecrae, "Beautiful Feet"~
Calling All Unqualified
So here I am...about to embark on the biggest adventure of my life thus far. To anyone looking on, I seem ridiculously unqualified for the mission I am about to undertake. I'm a small town girl - born and raised on a farm in a safe and quiet community - preparing to live in not only Canada's biggest city, but the most dangerous areas of it. I seem like the absolute least adequate person to be serving in this setting, but then I remember that God has a habit of calling the inadequate. God has a tendency to choose the unqualified, the "last picks". Just look at Moses, or Esther, or Paul. But God did amazing works through them, using their weaknesses to showcase His power.
"Each time he said, 'My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.' So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me."
(2 Corinthians 12:9)
There is still many uncertainties regarding this internship...I don't know where I'm staying, who I'm staying with, or which age of children I will be working with. At times, these unknowns cause me to freak out, and lose sight of Christ. But I do not want to be like the Israelites, who experience God's faithfulness one minute, and turn around and immediately forget it the next. Instead, I keep my eyes fixed on the prize, and run with beautiful feet the race that has been set before me.