Sometimes doors seem shut tight. There is little to no interest, at least none that can be seen. But we pray, and plant seeds and pray some more. We have a fine proposal but it falls on deaf ears. Then one day, seemingly out-of-the-blue something unexpected happens and the door opens a crack. Sometimes a mind-numbing rush of events follows and the door is flung wide open.
This is what the congregation at Healing Streams International in Bible Hill, Nova Scotia is experiencing at this very time. This past spring, Kate, a woman relatively new to the church family was at work doing her best to form relationships with leaders on one of the nearby First Nations Reservations. Her vision and passion was to start sports camps for youth but getting the green light for such ministry is a far cry from easy. It takes time to gain trust and although she had met some Reserve leaders these connections had not yet proven enough to garner such an invitation. Spring gave way to summer, which gave way to fall, and soon Christmas was on the horizon. No sports camps for 2019.
Meanwhile, another individual in the church, Darrel, had a connection of his own. One day while having a chat with the First Nations man he knew, the topic of Christmas came up and Darryl discovered, to his dismay, that many on this reservation were suffering financially and Christmas for children in these homes looked bleak. Having a big heart he blurted out that he and his wife would see to it that these children would receive gifts.
As Darrel shared this with his pastor back at the church, Pastor Steve said no way could Darrel and his wife take this on all by themselves. Knowing of Kate’s passion for ministry with the First Nations he connected Darrel with Kate. Kate was only too happy to make a plan. They soon discovered that the Reserve had a program in place designed to help children, called The Angel Tree. From this source they were able to receive the age and gender of children. Kate went to work. She called Pastor Steve to talk about her idea to involve as many from the congregation as possible in meeting this need, and asked if they could have a wrapping party in a couple of weeks after the service. It turned out that just the day before Kate’s call, another woman in the church had received permission to put on a turkey dinner following church on that very week. This would be perfect – dinner and wrapping party. On Sunday morning she stood in the service and laid out the need before the church. Everybody could help by just donating an unwrapped gift. She had no idea whether they would collect many or few.
Kate issued a personal invitation to one of the Band Council leaders she knew on the Reserve to come for the Sunday Service on the day of the wrapping party. He came and was quite overwhelmed that the church was going to do this for their children. He was unable to stay for the lunch and the wrapping party, and as gifts were still coming in he didn’t see them all. They arranged a new pick up date. Participation had been high and the church family spent a wonderful afternoon together enjoying the turkey dinner and then wrapping all 115 gifts.
In a couple of days another Band Council leader from the Reserve came to pick up the gifts. Try as they might, it was simply impossible to fit all of the gifts into the vehicle. Now what? “I’ll bring the rest in my car,” volunteered Kate.
From this moment momentum soared. As she was helping to unload the colorful gifts from her car someone said, “Hey, we’re having pizza. Wanna stay?” Soon she had met several people, and the door opened wider. As they were eating pizza, the invitation was extended to join the reserve members at their annual Christmas Gala later that evening. This is an event not open to outsiders. While at the Gala, Kate met many people including the Chief, whom she had only ever managed to communicate with by text, phone call or Messenger. She was then invited to be on Santa’s float in their traditional Christmas Eve Parade. The church was also permitted to bring a group of carolers to participate in the parade. As they continued to get to know Kate and become comfortable with her, the Chief started asking questions about how she was so content and peaceful all the time, and he had noticed that she had wise answers for things. He wanted to have the same things for himself. As he listened, he said, “I want to hear more about this.” And Kate obliged.
Within a couple of weeks this chief became a follower of Jesus. The once tightly closed door swung wide open. The Chief asked, “Now tell me about this sport program you run for kids and how much will it cost to start one on our reserve?”
Needless to say, enthusiasm at Healing Streams is ‘through the roof’. “Let’s be intentional”, people are saying. “Let’s listen to what God’s putting in hearts for people to do, and let’s fan those flames!”
This fits right in with the mission at Healing Streams International. About ministry to others Pastor Steve McEvoy puts it this way, “It is our desire to serve you in any way that we can, and help ignite the fire of God hidden in your life.” They apply this not only within their own church, but also without. Sometimes they even come alongside ministries in other countries.
None but God knows exactly what all lies in store beyond the wide open door at the Reserve. Part of the church mission statement says, “As every believer is called, so it is God’s plan for them to be serving others. As the church, we are all called to work in conjunction with others in helping the saved and unsaved move towards God’s plan for their lives.” When God opens a door, we find our path on the other side of the threshold.