One88er’s share thoughts on church

In a day when people ask “Why church?,” people from the One88 community share their thoughts on why the church community is an important part of their spiritual journey.

Creating Safe Space (Stories from One88)

Many people come through the door at One 88 and you can see they are comfortable here. You can see it in their body language, the way they remove their packs, and the way they relax. They tell us with their smile and by their gratitude for a quick chat or light lunch. Not everyone can articulate what having this safe haven means to them, but this was not true for J. As she shared her story of abuse at the hands of her ex-husband and how she had to flee from where she lived and come to a place where she knew no one, tears welled up in her eyes. She was so thankful to Dave and Greg for being at One 88 and allowing people to come and just be. She asked me to make sure my church (Eastview) knew how important this place was. “If you’ve never been on the streets, it’s hard to understand how important a place like this is,” she said, “believe me this place saves lives.”

Its not about Us and Them (Stories from One88)

I thought for a long time this morning to come up with a story that told of someone in the 188 community whose life had been changed by the work being done there. The only person that really stands out for me is me.

The weeks we spent on talking about community and what that looks like were significant for me. I personally have never felt safe in community. There were many discussions on respect and non-judgement. I feel that 188 has become a place where people are not afraid to discuss their questions about God and their beliefs. The conversations never fail to be insightful. I never walk away without having something to think about in my own life. I often walk away thinking that the 188 community understands life a lot better than I do.

Recently we talked about how members of the 188 community are better able to give away possessions than many others of us from Eastview are. That they do not have the same attachment to things. It challenges me to think about that in my own life. There was a young man at 188 who had made a decision to give away all his things and try living on the street. I have thought of that often. How will I know if I have faith that God will provide for me if I have always had all the earthly possessions that I need. How does a person learn what is really important to have unless they have to start from nothing. How much energy do I spend just to protect the things I own.

For me it has not been about how much I can help the 188 community, it has been about how much the 188 community challenges me to learn and grow. It is not always pretty, and it can be uncomfortable at times, but somehow it feels like real life to me.

(submitted by Janine)

View from a Ladder (Stories from One88)

I was at the top of a step ladder in the hallway off of the main floor drop in area at One88 repairing a fluorescent light fixture recently when I witnessed something incredible. A young woman, one of the regulars at One88, walked passed my ladder totally engrossed in an intense telephone conversation. From what I could tell she was trying to have a heart to heart discussion with someone who wasn’t in a very good place. She was telling the individual that they needed to get clean, that carrying on with their current lifestyle wasn’t safe. The person must have asked where she was because she said that she was at One88. She was then likely asked what One88 was because she next responded that it was ‘ sorta like a church, Dave and Greg the pastors here saved my life, if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be clean or alive right now’. At this point I was no longer working and was totally engrossed in her passionate appeal to this individual to come to One88 to get help. I had gathered that the friend she was talking to was a guy and that she had likely woken him up because she acknowledged that he was tired, that he wanted to go back to sleep and didn’t want to talk anymore. She agreed that he needed some more sleep but then she told him she was calling him back at 11:30 to continue the discussion! After she ended the call she finally noticed I was there; I told her I thought she was being a very good friend and she replied that her friend really need to come ‘here’ to get help.

The next thing I did was go to Greg and Dave and tell them what I had just witnessed and to let them know they are making a real difference in people’s lives. My ‘take away’ from this encounter is that I need to have just as much faith as that young woman that God can change lives through our ministry at One88. (submitted by Ron)

God wants the best for ALL of you…the church should want that too.

Sit in any church on any given Sunday and at numerous times throughout the service, you are asked to look at something in your bulletin/program or sing songs off the overhead screen or grab a Bible from the pew and turn to a particular passage. But what if you can’t read? What do you do then?

We often talk about God being interested in the whole person – not simply a person’s heart. God cares about what you fill your mind with, how you treat your body, and what you let your eyes focus on, etc. At One88, we try to take that seriously and so we spend time worshiping God with our body, heart, and mind but we also try to take care of how he has made us. One of the ways we do that is by encouraging people to learn to read, write, and generally move forward in their education. Many of us take for granted that we can fill out a form without too much problem, never mind read it. Or that we have the technological resources to type up and print out a resume. We see that God values the whole of a person and we think we should to.

This value of holistic ministry led us to start up a Wednesday evening study/mentor evening. Below is an article that our partner – the Canadian MB Conference – put together.  Come check it out Wednesdays at One88.

Follow this link:

Responding to Tragedy with Ungrace

If you have been watching, following, listening to news media over the last couple days you will have heard of the tragedy in the life of the Rick Warren family. At first blush we might think that regardless of what you might think of Rick Warren, this is very sad and you would want to wish God’s grace on the family in this time. Unfortunately, there are those who do not think that way. The energy that Christians waste attacking each other is a tragedy in deed. Below is an article posted on Frank Viola’s blog. It makes me sad…

Let There Be Lent

“Tell me where the Bible talks about Lent,” she said to me, smugly crossing her arms in a perceived victory. “Because why should I do this Lent thing if the Bible doesn’t even mention it?”

And with that, she walked away. I am not a big fan of that debating technique and the more cynical side of me wanted to run after her and start asking her about her Christmas celebrations/traditions and where she finds support for those in the Bible, but that would have led us to a place that probably wasn’t very helpful.

Yet, she is correct.  Lent is not something that Jesus practised or implemented but does that mean that we should have nothing to do with it? There is a long history of the early church observing various kinds of fasts in preparation for Good Friday and Easter – as early as the 2nd/3rd centuries. When Constantine legalised Christianity in AD 313, Lent became a formal part of the church’s rhythm. The word itself simply comes from an Anglo-Saxon word meaning Spring or March, referring to the time of year in which Lent most often takes place. Typically, it is a very reflective time, a time to take stock of the fragility of our humanity, our need for a Saviour, and the cost at which our saving came. The idea of fasting or depriving yourself of something during the ’40 days’ of Lent is a way of identifying or, at the very least, having a more profound understanding of the suffering that Christ went through on our behalf.  It is a time in which we join Jesus in the wilderness, to be tested, tried, and readied for the road that is to come. A person will decide to “give something up” for the duration of Lent – from coffee, to video games, to Facebook – and use that time for reflection, meditation, prayer, etc..

I have been struck by the number of blogs, articles, and comments I have read this year that suggest that we need to get rid of this whole thing of “giving up something” for Lent. And its not just the people who feel Lent is “non-biblical” and therefore, not worth considering. Some of said that it feels trite to give up not eating sweets (for instance) as a way of identifying with the suffering of Christ. “Jesus died a brutal death for my sins and so I decide to not eat chocolate?” And, to be honest, I understand that perspective. How does my simple fast help me relate to what my Lord suffered for our sake? I think the closest I came was when I gave up coffee (& other caffeinated beverages) for 40 days. The headaches that came with withholding caffeine, cold-turkey, were suffering indeed. It might be fair to say that my wife suffered even more because she had to put up with me as I staggered around the house, hoping to breathe in a caffeine-fume, if such a thing exists. And don’t even talk to me about trying to pray while my head is pounding. But still, is it even fair to somehow equate that with Christ’s suffering? So the question of the effectiveness of fasting, amidst all our excess, is a valid one.

But when it comes down to it, that is the point, isn’t it? Isn’t the point that we live in a society in which we don’t hold back anything from ourselves? We want for nothing, living in such abundance that we never have to go without. Largely, we are a very undisciplined people. Never mind my ‘needs,’ I find it hard to think of something that I ‘want’ that I don’t already have.  Of course, if I dream, there are big, extravagantly expensive things that I can say I ‘want;’ things that when it comes right down to it, I would never buy even if I could. But the reality is that when I think “that would be nice to have,” that usually means I will go out and get it; if not immediately, then a few days/weeks down the road (such discipline!). I don’t think that is what the Psalmist meant when writing “The Lord is my Shepherd, I will not be in want…”

Living in a culture in which we withhold nothing from our selves has brought me to this point where I look at the season of Lent and it makes sense to me. Yes, withholding desserts is trite and in no way representative of the Passion of Christ, but it seems to me that the path to a disciplined life needs to start somewhere. We’ve got the excess thing down; let’s start withholding from ourselves. We need habits in our lives by which we deprive our flesh in order to free the work of the Spirit. Because we need the Spirit to be active in our lives so that we can understand what Jesus means when he says: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mark 8.34).

So what are you giving up for Lent? I pray it will help you better understand what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and create room for the work of the Holy Spirit in your life. And to my anti-Lent friend, it seems to me that Lent has more of a Biblical foundation than does the gluttony of gifts that you buy at Christmas time…but that’s an argument for a few months down the road.