Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Prayer Action

When I tell people that I do a lot of prayer walking throughout the South End I usually get one of two responses. The first is the look of scandal and sometimes even horror. As images of soap boxes and exorcisms race through peoples' minds all they can get out is, "You do what?" I guess they would not see such things as beneficial for an outreach ministry. I tend to agree.

The second response is that of simple confusion. Many people are not familiar with prayer walking. So I thought I would describe last Friday when I went for a prayer walk with my friend John.

I met John at the Bucks at about 9:30 Friday morning. Sometimes John and I will catch up there but on this day we went straight out to the Lower South End. Though we at times walk with no clear direction, this time would be different. Based on several experiences that I had over that past week or so I hoped to pray over specific areas.

We walked past the Booth Centre and sat by the big Celtic Cross at the end of Prince William St. We prayed for the workers and children at the South End Day Care. We prayed as we felt led: that the children would be safe and healthy, and that God would provide for the day to day running of the day care.

Before we moved on, John reminded me that we should pray for our walk. I couldn't believe that I forgot this important first step. So we prayed that God would go before us; that the Lord would show us when and how to pray; that we would be open and responsive to anyone we met. Then we thanked God that we could minister in this way.

From there John and I went to Rainbow Park. We prayed that God would bless the young families that use the park. We prayed that the funding for the park would come soon. As we were praying by the Community Garden, envisioning how it could be a focal point for the community I was given an idea. "John, do you have a Frisbee?"

John and I had been praying for some time how we could break into this community. We wondered, "Could it be so simple as a game of Frisbee?" Just think about it: two or three people getting together in the park with nothing other than a Frisbee and cooler full of pop. Most people love Frisbee, and this may be just one way that we could get to know some of the locals. Who knows someday we may even throw in a Pizza at the Park and have a meal with soon-to-be-friends. The excitement we felt with this idea shows for me that this is Spirit led. So, I can't wait for our first try at Frisbee Fellowship.

Following this John and I prayed for the Saint John the Baptist RC Church. We prayed that they would be unified behind a common mission to see the Kingdom extend into the surrounding neighbourhood.

And that was a day. It took about an hour and it was incredibly uplifting.

Now I understand that Prayer Walking is not the most enjoyable activity in the winter but thankfully Spring is hear. If anyone would like to join me in this quiet but exciting ministry please let me know. I'm always up for a stroll.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What do you do every day, anyways?

People often ask me what I do on a typical day in my ministry in the South End. I’m not always sure what to say, as I have not yet had a typical day. So, I’ll describe what today was like, and then add some tidbits at the end.

My day began with Morning Prayer at 8:00 am. I have a prayer corner set up in my apartment by a window that looks over the South and Eastern sections of the South End Peninsula. I feel a strong burden to pray for the people here. My prayer focuses especially on the elementary school, the Tannery Building that is now being erected, the Vineyard and St. John’s the Baptist Church and the Retirement home. I can see them all clearly from my little prayer corner.

Following my prayer time I walked up to Stone Church to check on a few things for youth group and to touch base with the gang in the office.

At 11:30 I was at the school with dozens of hyper elementary school students to walk them to St. John the Baptist Church for the Chicken Noodle Club. This was my third Chicken Noodle Club experience. It is proving to be exhilarating. I look forward to it every week.

I then walked back to Brunswick Square to meet with a local priest to discuss the prospect of shared ministry in the South End. I find such meetings daunting at times, but confident that God’s plans are perfect, and His will will be done.

Following this, I met briefly with David to discuss my progress thus far and to consider future activities - (people to contact, ways to enter more fully into the community, etc.) I then prepared for youth group which was held from 7-9 pm. Tonight, after we caught up with the youth, Sarah Ranson and I took them to the Lower South end to pray.

On other days, such as Fridays, I usually go to Germain St. Baptist to help with the Teen Lunch Program. There are other days when I speak at various groups to spread awareness of my ministry and the needs I discover in the South End and to request prayer and other forms of support such as partnership in ministry. The rest of my time is typically spent walking and praying through the South End, preparing sermons, setting up meetings with Christian leaders and others involved in the issues affecting those in the South End and working on the Diocesan Committees I am involved with.

I hope this sheds some light on what I am doing from day to day. I would appreciate your prayers for me and for the people of the Lower South End. It is my sincere desire that together we would recognize and receive God’s wonderful love more fully.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Chicken Noodle Soup Anyone?

This past Wednesday I went to help out at the Chicken Noodle Club with Donnie Snook and the team. This is something that I hope to be a part of regularly from now on. Not only are people needed for this vital ministry, but it is also a good way of getting to know some of the local people in the Lower South End.

I was warned several times that this club was rambunctious and that it may be overwhelming for a newcomer. So slamming back some chocolate courage I headed down to the local elementary school to walk the children from there to the St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.

When I went into the school I was directed to the second level where the children were already lining up. Everyone had a partner. "Two by two in a straight line" was shouted a number of times during our... spirited walk. I was given two partners, a girl on my right and a boy on my left. Introductions were made by them beginning with a loud, "Who are you!" When I told them my name was Paul, I was in. "Are you coming to the after school program too?"

I learned a number of things on my first day with the Chicken Noodle Club. The first really surprised me. My walking buddy informed me that I had a "squeaky voice like South Park." Who knew? Another thing I learned was the heartbreaking truth that these children are starved for attention. They crave affection, and there is a particular need for father figures. There were a number of times the lessons from PRISM (Prevention and Response Involving Sexual Misconduct) flashed into my head. Repeated requests to be picked up, or to sit on my knee made me very uncomfortable. In truth, holding hands took me out of my comfort zone. It took me some time to reflect on this and to I realize that this is a very public ministry. So, while care is always needed to ensure the safety of our children, it is a safe environment.

The third thing I learned was that more people are needed for this ministry. When it was time to walk back to the school, four children came and wanted to be my walking buddy. Four. We need more hands. It does not take a lot. I was amazed at how quickly the time went. In talking with Donnie, I discovered that people could come on their lunch hour. A person could go for lunch early, say from 10:30-11:30 to help set up. Or come from 11:30-12:30 to converse with the children, walk them to and from the church, help maintain some order, and share the love that Jesus has for each one of these boys and girls. Another option would be to come from 12:30-1:30 to help clean up following lunch. Many hands make light work. In this case many hands could make a profound difference in a young person's life.

It is now Tuesday and I find myself looking forward to tomorrow's lunch. I want to hear how everybody's week was and what they did on their Easter weekend. It will be great to get to know these young people more and more as the weeks go on. Please pray for the children who attend the Chicken Noodle Club, and for Donnie and the team as well. And perhaps you could consider how God could use you to make the lives of these children a little better.

For more information about the Chicken Noodle Club visit this web address: