On a hot afternoon, in the shade of some trees, I met “Alex”, a homeless man here in Abbotsford. As we chatted, he opened up about how he came to be homeless. Four years ago, he was diagnosed with a brain tumour; unable to keep up with medical expenses and rent, he was evicted. To deal with the physical and emotional pain, he started using drugs. His drug use and homelessness took Alex’s rights to parental visitation with his daughter, “Sarah”.
My heart went out to Alex and his daughter. To reduce risky behaviours that lead to addictions and homelessness, Greater Vancouver Youth Unlimited (GBYU) staff know the importance of building long-term relationships with young people like “Sarah”. The firetruck mobile drop-in the Verge team is working on will provide opportunities to create these relationships. We also aim to bring resources to students and families who do not have the means to access community services.
My coworkers, Chris and Natalie, and I have been out every week this past summer with a small group of boys, exploring different parts of Abbotsford - usually by biking or hiking. One Tuesday adventure, Natalie and I took them for a “hike”, which they (and I!) definitely found physically challenging. After the last steep hill, which I had to slowly crawl up, one boy and I chatted about how proud we both felt of making it to the top! I encouraged him to remember how he had pushed himself the next time he has to take on something he’ll find difficult.
The challenge my teammates and I are facing right now is how to best do youth work under the COVID-19 safety regulations, since we are currently not allowed in the schools. Even though this is a loss for us, we are now developing plans to start hanging out one night a week in a neighbourhood which we may eventually take the firetruck mobile drop-in to, when that’s ready. Of course, there are lots of logistics to be worked out – one of which is that we are needing to grow our volunteer team! If you think God might be nudging you to come and join us as we love and walk with kids in Jesus’ name, I’d love to chat with you!
Below are photos of the evolution of the firetruck mobile drop-in.
Please join me in praying for Alex and Sarah, and for our continuing work to complete the interior of the mobile drop-in. I also encourage you to ask God to reveal to you the hope and potential in one individual and find ways to share His love with them. The simplest way might be to learn that individual's name and pray for them. You may become a small part of their story.
My prayer for you, for the whole GVYU team, and for the young people has been:
Therefore, let everyone who is sincere give thanks to the Beloved.
For whenever we feel paralyzed by fear, we shall be embraced by Love.
Dwelling in the heart of the Beloved, we are free from distress, free to live more creatively.
--Psalm 32, Psalms for Prayer: Invitations to Wholeness by Nan C. Merrill
Maria Dyck is a part of the Highland Community and works in Abbotsford with Youth Unlimited. She is an avid knitter, enthusiastic about her work, and can be found walking and enjoying the outdoors in Abbotsford.