I realise I’m a bit behind in updating you people. Sorry about that. If it helps, I’m this far behind in my personal journal, too. I guess that when you’re living something it’s hard to remember that you want to preserve it.
So, first off, the Urban Plunge. October 7th was our first night in Winnipeg, staying at the Vineyard church in the North End. On the 8th we did MB Mission’s learning tour, which took us through the inner city of Winnipeg and showed us some missions and projects in the area. It also allowed us to hear stories and interact with people who had experienced life in the inner city. I thought the Learning Tour was fantastic. We could see the poverty and the sad or terrible things about living on the streets or in the poorer, broken-down areas, but we also saw so many areas where God is working in small ways. More than one group was involved in helping out with Thanksgiving meals, at more than one place, but in all those places they told us about the numbers of people that they were feeding. We heard stories of individual successes, and saw people working together. On that day, we each only had three dollars for supper, and something that sticks with me and that I keep telling is how, in my group, there was never any mention of the individual three dollars that everyone had, but instead we jumped right to ‘we have eighteen dollars, what can we get for six people?’ And we ended up with food left over! It was a great experience, and even just an interesting thing to note how in the past month or so we have developped a mindset that thinks about the entire group. That small experience in itself brought home for me the things that we were learning about and reading about, like the church in Acts who held everything in common. It was just a very small example of that idea, but it worked out pretty well.
Thursday I had the opportunity to go to the Provincial Courts and hear some trials. We went with a community minister who works in the inner city, and in between our time observing, he told us stories about the youth that he works with and many of the issues that they face. It was incredible: he saw some tragic lives and had so much on his plate, but he had a lot of hope and love for the kids that he worked with. He saw even gang members as people who needed to be cared for, and he saw their potential to be better than they are. It was also very fascinating to see the strange relationship between what happens in the courtroom and what we heard about and saw on the streets.
Friday, I went with a group of people to visit an intentional community, a small group of people living together and trying to work together to help their neighbourhood out. With them, we volunteered cleaning up and helping out at a soup kitchen after they had served their Thanksgiving meal. They also told us a bit about how they had started up and how they operated. It brought me back again to the example of the church in Acts and the way that our world has changed since then.
The Urban Plunge was a fascinating experience for me. It caused me to think a lot about how I live, and the contrast between how well we believe we’re doing and what is actually happening on the streets of our cities. Where do we, as Christians, think we’re building God’s kingdom when we’re leaving so many people out of it? Are we disconnected from the way we were designed to live?
This strangeness was only amplified by going to my aunt’s for Thanksgiving and being set back into our neat and tidy little world. I loved seeing my family and talking with them about everything I’ve experienced, but it was odd to go from the church floor in the inner city to a bed in the country.