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Vancouver’s SOAR lifts off

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P&E SOAR Vancouver Rick Friesen team.webMB Mission’s home mission program moved into Vancouver this year, after operating successfully in a variety of North American venues. SOAR focuses on two objectives – to provide participants with ministry experience, and to assist churches and church plants by supplying willing workers. In 2012, SOAR programs also ran in Montreal, Winnipeg, Utah, and Mexico.

From Aug. 3 to 12, 18 young people, aged 13–26, joined with a dozen support staff to involve themselves in the work of two Vancouver churches, Killarney Park MB in southeast Vancouver, and Vancouver Chinese MB, in the East Hastings area.

Following SOAR program principles, the group met first for three days of pre-ministry training which included introductions to the social and spiritual elements of Vancouver, as seen through Christian eyes. Then they worked on ministry assignments for four days, and spent two days in debrief. Each evening during their ministry days, participants gathered to share, pray, and hear from a church planter about ongoing work. They also made time for private devotions including journaling. Richmond Bethel MB Church donated the use of its building as team headquarters.

SOAR is designed to be an intense faith-building ministry experience, a transformative event, where participants allow God to work in and through them. John Best, Western Canada regional mobilizer for MB Mission and for this SOAR project, said at the end of the program, many participants called it life-changing.

“I experienced God’s love, and in turn was able to love others more,” said one.

Another: “My time with SOAR truly clarified certain aspects of my life and home in Vancouver.”

“Jesus taught me that when you say yes to him, he will do amazing things.”

And, “I was deeply moved by God’s love and by the Holy Spirit.”

The two churches also expressed appreciation for the ministry. For Killarney Park, the SOAR team’s energy meant a long-standing tradition of holding Vacation Bible School in the neighbourhood – cancelled last year for lack of volunteers – could be resumed.

“We’re excited to see how God will choose to use this program as we continue to partner with what he’s already doing in Vancouver,” said Best. He’s already marshalling a team for next year’s program, set for July 26–Aug. 4.

Rick Friesen, pastor to participants from New Hope Christian (MB) Church in Delta, said, “SOAR is amazing in discipleship. It offers a top-notch orientation with great speakers and tools. It’s well established and well planned.” New Hope now has a group of young people with gifting “defined to a greater degree, with a heart to minister, and a desire to evangelize and make a difference,” he said. “We will want to do this again!”

—Barrie McMaster

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