On September 26th, Derrick and I took a deep breath and crossed our fingers. We were about to start our second year of running a Tuesday night youth outreach program in the south Scarborough community of Guildwood.
After a rocky first year of figuring out what works and what doesn’t, we had ended the year with seven regularly attending kids and five occasionally attending kids. And we felt successful! Going from one teenager at the little Anglican Church in Scarborough that is co-hosting the group to seven teenagers in eight months time was both an exhausting and exciting accomplishment. And I do mean exhausting. We skidded to the end of the ministry year with our tanks on empty.
On our first Tuesday back, we trekked in with baited breath… to greet all seven regular attendees again! And seeing these kids come out of their shells, smile and share with us is the most rewarding feeling. So many people ask us why we picked south Scarborough when we live in Oshawa. And the answer is two-fold: for one, we work in Guildwood. Derrick’s family store is based there, and we spend so much time immersed in the environment of these kids who don’t have anywhere to go. And secondly, you have to go where God is calling you to minister. Through both prayer and our interactions with the youth in Guildwood, it has been made clear to us that the need we are meant to fill is in Guildwood’s lost and unchurched youth.
Last year, we tried and tested so many different types of activities. We incorporated Life Hacks, where different members of the community and church would come in to teach essential life skills (a bank rep talked finances, a nurse talked about mental health, etc). We followed a youtube series of videos called ‘Chances Are’, which involved watching a three minute video and then discussing the bible passages and social justice questions raised afterwards. And of course, there was lots of food: pizza, popcorn, egg-making hack, cookie-decorating, and doughnut making. So what are we doing with these kids in the year to come? We spent our summer devising new social events (movie nights, laser tag) and bringing back old favourites (Paint Nite, Ugly Christmas Sweater Party). We worked with a local food bank to deploy a food collection program this fall, and we’ve continued with following the Chances Are video series while we plan to commence Alpha in January. We’re forever looking for new Life Hacks (arm knitting!) and opportunities to connect the kids with the local congregation’s community events (Progressive dinner and Christmas Concert).
While our goal is to reach a total of ten regular attendees, we know it's far more important to work with the kids that we have and give them 100% of Christ's love. And that's what our prayer is every week, to be an example of God's love to kids who wouldn't know Him otherwise.