Looking Back, Looking Ahead

I am just starting to book some speaking engagements to let people know about Street Hope’s “Threshold House” project. My first approach was to the church from which Linda and I were launched on the trajectory which has led us here.

About 20 years ago the Principal of Taylor College, David Edwards, asked me to join him at the college as the head of Evangelism Studies. 19 years ago, we moved to Saint John and I took up that mantle. Soon after our move we became members of St. James the Less. These were formative years for our family and our children grew up in the nurture of this loving community.

Then David made another request. He asked me to consider coming to his inner-city parish to help there. I had never left a church before other than because I was moving cities, so I talked over the issue with the then pastor of St. James. He proposed an elegant solution, St. James would commission us as missionaries to Stone Church and the inner-city mission. I remember well the congregation gathering around us and ‘sending us off’ to this new field of ministry. Linda and I have returned often over the years to report and rekindle.

It feels natural then to return one more time to share our excitement about the vision for Threshold House. It always feels like a home coming!

Looking back, I see that much has changed. My son who used to run projection long before every church did so, attended every worship practise because he knew it as his ministry, now preaches regularly at his own church. My daughter took several mission trips and now is married with a child of her own, has a wonderful ministry of kindness and encouragement. Our lives have changed, and ministries have evolved but there is a remarkable persistent consistency. Like the magi following the Star of Bethlehem, I see that we have, for the most part, followed a singular path.

Eugene Petersen wrote about a ‘long obedience in one direction’ and I see that as I look back. Despite all the unexpected twists and turns the trajectory of our lives and ministries is marked by dogged persistence. We continue as Threshold Evangelist, Linda for 40 years and me for 39. We continue as ‘missionaries’ to the inner-city just as we were commissioned by St. James Church. There have been times of despair and temptation to give up and give in, but God has proved faithful through it all.

We believe that this same faithful God will see the successful launch of Threshold House. We have informational events at our Mountain View location, coming soon:

October 5th – Brunch 10 AM

October 8th– Drop In 1 – 4 PM

October 15th– Dessert & Worship 7 PM



Unleashing The Viral Power of Wellness

Both as a teacher and a practitioner of evangelism, I have emphasized the value of strategic and multiplicatory methods. This is in line with Christ’s call to “make disciples”. The goal is not just converts, though that is a wonderful result of our evangelism, but to make disciples who can, and will, put their shoulder to that same wheel of evangelism.

The idea of ‘loosing’ people in ministry has been a focus of Street Hope since the beginning. The goal has always been to win people to Jesus and see them involved in ministry. We pay particular emphasis on the ministry of kindness, that each individual can intentionally practice in their own lives. We certainly try and practice a ministry of hospitality and kindness, but our ministry would be far too shallow if that was all we did. We have seen people who were consumed with self become aware of the love of Christ and begin to show it to others. A great example of this was an incident on a city bus. One of our friends with a long criminal history was riding on the bus when people started picking on a woman. He intervened on her behalf and over time they became great friends. Both often attend our Sunday Evening House Church and are central to all our programs. We desire to see our ministry ripple out in this way so that it has an impact far beyond our small numbers.

It is this same philosophy of ministry that excites me about our new project “Threshold House”. The idea is to form a supportive discipling community for men who have discovered hope through recovery from addiction. We want to house 8 – 12 men at a time giving them a supportive launching pad into the next phase of their lives. We plan to equip these men who have discover hope to be ‘bringers of hope’ to others.  In doing so we plan to unleash the viral power of wellness.

Up until Jesus association with sin and evil contaminated. This was why Pharisees went to such lengths to avoid contamination. But Jesus changed all that. People he touched did not contaminate him but rather they became well through his touch. “For if the many died by the trespass of the one man (Adam) how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!” (Romans 5:15) As we follow him the viral nature of ‘wellness’ is unleashed.

I like to use the word wellness because it pictures for me the problem and the solution. We were once isolated from God, our neighbour and indeed our true selves. This is illustrated by the word illness, but when I connect with God and others (and yes, my true self) the big “I” which is at the heart of sin, through reconciliation is changed to “We” as in wellness.

Our vision is to see these men firmly established in the wellness of Christ and through them and the next cohort, and the one after that, we will make an impact on the scourge of addiction that currently plagues our community.

We are a small ministry, but we believe we can have an out-sized impact through application of the viral power of wellness. For us this is a huge project which stretches our faith and the promise of Kingdom impact is great. Would you consider how you might join us? There will be many opportunities: for practical help, for intercessory prayer, and financial support.

Together we can unleash the viral power of wellness in Christ.

Mission & Imagination

This summer some friends from Christ Church in Pennfield had a really creative idea. They decided to plant and tend a garden. This is a very biblical venture. The idea was that they would enjoy warm fellowship, quite literally, as they weeded and watered and nurtured this plot, but also that the produce would be used to benefit others. The idea originated with a young woman, Eden, who was looking for a way to serve the Kingdom. The enterprise was soon dubbed “The Garden of Eden”!

The harvest was gathered yesterday and tonight will find its way into a large pot of soup. This group is travelling to Saint John to serve this  hearty repast to our Street Hope community as we gather for our weekly Drop In.

I’m impressed by the imagination , dedication, and vision of Eden and the team from this small church. They will have an impact far beyond filling empty stomachs. They will be living proof of the love of God.

This reminds me, too, that each of us can find ways to bless others in ways that suit our talents and resources. I think back on an even younger person, Sadie, from that same church who raised hundreds of dollars for our Christmas outreach, a few years. Willingness and a bit of imagination is all we need to be useful in his Kingdom. Perhaps we should take up the challenge that Eden and Sadie lay down with their examples. Can each of us find our own way, this week, to be helpful to the Kingdom of God, within our abilities and resources!

I am ‘stoked’ about our new ministry project “Threshold House” which will be the home of Street Hope Saint John and house a Christian community of men who have discovered hope in overcoming addiction, and are being equipped to be ‘bringers of hope’ to others. Street Hope is a small ministry but we believe that through “Threshold House” we can multiply our ministry and make a significant impact on the scourge of addiction in our wider community.

This October we will be hosting three events designed to share this vision and to encourage people to support it. These events are:

Saturday October 5th 10 AM Brunch (call Reed 721 1788 to reserve a place)

Tuesday October 8th  1 – 4 PM Open House & Drop In with presentation at 2 PM

Thursday October 17th  7 PM Dessert & Worship

All these events will be held at Threshold House 105 Mountain View Drive.

Please keep these events in prayer. We hope that by providing different times and dates that we will see a good number of people.

Our last Roamin’ Holiday event is now scheduled for next Tuesday, the 17th. We will be having a fall picnic at Lepreau Falls and a washer toss tourney. For those who may not be familiar with ‘washer toss’ picture horse shoes only with big metal washers. We are grateful to our friend Rob Pittman for the loan of the game.


Ministry of “Showing Up”

In the 90’s, the “Decade of Evangelism”, I travelled to hundreds of parish halls from coast to coast to coast, criss-crossing Canada with a workshop designed to help people to be effective in sharing their faith within their personal circle of relationships. One of the themes was captured in the symmetrical quote “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care!”

I was reminded of this as a local clergy man dropped in to visit us at our Roamin’ Holiday event yesterday. He commented on the depth of the friendships he witnessed and asked how long we had been involved together. When I told him we first started in 2004, he commented that our persistence had certainly paid off!

With that I began to think about when I first met some of our friends. A few really, stand out. One person was a serial offender at the half-way house and caught in the revolving door of recidivism. We began to hang out and today it has been years of not only no crime but church attendance and a genuine character change.

Another friend was homeless when we first met. She was pushing a shopping cart holding all her belongings. She was wary of ‘do-gooders’ and more than a bit hostile. Yesterday her toothless smile was evident to everyone. She has not missed a single Roamin’ Holiday this year.

I did little but continue to show up in their vicinity over the years. Eventually barriers began to come down and friendships like wet firewood were kindled. Now I can readily share my faith and get a fair hearing not because of any giftedness but through dogged persistence. Changes can be so incremental that it takes a conversation like that of my clergy friend to bring a realization of all that God is doing.

This week I have been back to work on the new project. I have been caught up in a distressing cycle of emails with city-planners. We are trying to agree on a definition for our vision of a Christian Community of Recovery at our Threshold House site. Finally, I connected by phone with a planner and we had a fruitful conversation. Our idea does not fall easily in typical categories but when we were able to creatively converse, I feel we came to a unified approach. Once I made clear we were not looking at being a place of ‘treatment’ but rather a Christian Community which is preparing those who have found hope, to become equipped to effectively share hope with others. The vision is akin to a neo-monastic community. I have hopes that this hurdle will not prove insurmountable.

We have begun a new series on Colossians at our Study and Prayer at the Out Flow Men’s Shelter.