Thursday, June 21, 2012


On Sunday morning I woke up and read the online news that a man had been beaten outside of the Boyle McCauley Health Centre.  I'm very familiar with that building; it's right across the street from the Mustard Seed and there are always people hanging around, whether it's open or closed.

I immediately wondered if I knew the man, but the article said that he went by "Ghost", and that didn't ring a bell.  After all, I thought, there are so many who aren't allowed into the Mustard Seed since they drink or use, and surely this guy who was hanging out in the middle of the night wasn't one of ours.

But I was wrong.

When I entered the Mustard Seed on Tuesday night, Maria said, "We need to talk about Wes, he died this morning."  I responded, "Not the guy who was beaten on the weekend", but she nodded her head, and pointed to the picture from EPS.

I didn't know Wes well; he hadn't been in for a while, but I definitely recognized the picture.  He was quiet, never tried to converse, just politely took a plate and marched along.  There were rumours abound from the community members:  He was a pedophile.  He was told not to return to the neighbourhood.  But really, who knows the truth?

The truth is that a man was killed by three others on a street that many wouldn't drive down, much less walk down.  And yet I've walked around that street, I've stood on the street corners talking to people, I've chased people down the street when I thought they were in trouble.  I have never once thought about how dangerous it was, even when a community member told me once, "You shouldn't be walking alone around here."  I've always just seen it as a Street, and seen the people as People, and wondered why anyone would be scared to come down to help out the People on the Street.

I guess I know better now.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Two Years

I was just reading my blog entry on June 15, 2010 - the first day I worked down at the Mustard Seed, and I wrote that I was One Billion Percent Sure that I had finally landed where God had called me - into the inner city, working with people.  Last night marked the two year mark of my Ministry, and while it's been a challenging two years, it has also been two years of spiritual growth and self discovery.

It was a busy night last night, much like the night that I started, but I was able to do a lot of roaming around, a lot of chatting, a lot of helping.  The karaoke was entertaining, as usual, and the coffee flowed freely as people came in out of the rain.  The highlight of the night (for the community) was the snack group who served ice cream and cookies.  I managed to sneak some Cream Soda, my favorite type of pop, and sip it happily behind the coffee bar.  My highlight was when my little buddy Glen gave me a flower to take home - he had picked something out that would be difficult for me to kill - I only have to water it once every two weeks!  Glen has always been friendly inside the Mustard Seed, but I have heard stories about his fights on the outside, including one that got him suspended for a few months.  It reminds me to keep my guard up, which hasn't always been the case.

They warned me before I started not to get too close to people since they may try to take advantage of a friendship....and it happened, but also taught me a good lesson.  I had a favorite, and we became really good friends....and then he asked me for money, and not just a little bit of money.  No one has ever asked me for anything, not even a quarter for the pop machine, because they know we can't give them anything, but the fact that he had the courage to ask me for a significant amount of money meant that I had let my guard down and gotten too close.  It jolted me into reality, I said no (of course - I don't even lend money to family!), and haven't seen him since.  Lesson learned.

It's been a great two years, and I've met some great people.  I just wish more of us who are blessed with time and money would give our time to these people - they are not scary, they are just people who are so grateful for a smile or a helping hand.  God has his protective hand over those of us who are called, and I have never once felt concern about being in the inner city. 

I am looking forward to all that this next year brings....