Creating space for people to meet Jesus in Downtown Winnipeg
I sat with Gary on the corner of Portage and Donald in Winnipeg. Someone told me they’d seen him panhandling there, so I went to join him. Gary is a friend of mine and part of my church community in downtown Winnipeg.
It was a different sort of pastoral visit. He was quite drunk when I found him, but he was glad to see me. Gary is a Christian and struggles with alcoholism.
“This isn’t me,” he said. “I am more than what you see here.” I assured him that I knew that. “It’s just this alcohol. I don’t know why I do it.”
This story doesn’t end with Gary’s addiction disappearing. But he knows that his hope for a different life is found in Jesus. His hope is found in belonging and becoming part of something bigger than his addiction.
Within the church community, Gary finds that he matters. He is not just a recipient of charity, but a member of the body. He has something to contribute and, rather than be consumed by his addiction, he finds purpose in Christ.
But it’s a slow, patient journey. And so, I journey together with him and he with me. We learn from each other and, when life is not so good, we even end up visiting each other on street corners.
is a pastor at One88 Community Church, Winnipeg.
This story comes from the Anabaptist World Fellowship Sunday 2020 worship resources package from Mennonite World Conference.
AWFS is an opportunity to remind our communities of faith that we are all part of one body made up of many tribes, languages and nations (Revelation 7:9). It is an invitation to visibly proclaim that now there is no discrimination among us on the basis of race, social status or gender (Galatians 3:28). It is a special day on which to show that we are living a new life in a new society where we mutually support one another, carry those who suffer, serve the world and interdependently learn from one another what it means to follow Jesus. On this day, we celebrate that, in Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, the cultural and national boundaries that separate us have been overcome by the cross.