Prior to our Urban Plunge, I’d thought about poverty, inequality, and injustice, although I’d never dug deeper nor let those issues affect my perspective in a profound way. Conversely, during the urban plunge I chose to step beyond being knowledgeable and truly have my heart broken as God’s heart is, and to attempt walking in these peoples shoes. That was what I prayed for as our week began, and God certainly delivered! Who knew that when people said “be careful what you wish for”, they actually meant it!
Coming out of the plunge, I am no longer comfortable living without enough gratitude, and I no longer hold previous stereotypes following the experiences that I had. We were given the opportunity to step and be pushed out of our comfort zones; we were challenged to seek God everywhere and in everyone we encountered. I had various conversations with people that I would have never spoken to if God hadn’t led me to apply for Outtatown.
After participating in a sharing circle at IFC (Indigenous Family Centre) I was given the privilege to hear the story of a man named Lucas. He has been living on the streets of Winnipeg for over 25 years. Yet that wasn’t what took me by surprise; rather it was when Lucas told me God blessed him and sent him there. An admirable christian man who once lived in Guatemala was asked to sell everything he had and live in the streets far from what was once home. I asked Lucas why our loving merciful Father would ask someone to go live on the streets. He then reminded me the beautiful life giving truth about God that I hope never to forget again; our heavenly father equips and strengthens us for whatever path He lays before us. Lucas wanted to serve our Father and had a passionate relationship with Him; thus despite the odd command, Lucas chose to pursue God’s will.
He proceeded to write down a few phrases in Spanish that I would need in Guatemala, and the very last one meant “I have a dream”. When I asked him why I would need that, his response brought me to tears. “Alison, God had a dream for me, and even though I knew it would be hard I trusted God and followed Him. Follow God’s dream for you! Tell the people you meet that you hear God telling them He has a dream for them, as I have done for you”.
Lucas presently lives on the streets of Winnipeg sharing the gospel and serving our Father. He is content and feels overwhelmingly blessed. God works in such mysterious ways!
Hearing stories like these, not to mention those filled with hurt, overwhelmed me tremendously. There were a few moments where I felt overly uncomfortable, but no because of where I was; contrarily it was the moments when we had to leave. Walking away from the places I was beginning to feel a stir of emotions for, and having to depart without making an impact, made my activist heart cry to be let out and put to work. I have yet to improve my patience specifically so that I’m able to first wait on God, then take up action.
God had shown Himself and spoken His word through a variety of faces which was extremely refreshing. “I believe we are amid a great awakening in the slumbering body of Christ”, author Shane Claiborne stated in his novel ‘The Irresistible Revolution’. I found that this resonated with me among our community and amid those surrounding us.
As a whole, the Winnipeg Urban Plunge planted a multitude of seeds within me, and within our group, that are quickly sprouting. These seeds allow us to seek understanding and feel God in new ways. Seeing God’s greatness that week ignited a flame of hope and desire to fulfill God’s will in our world. I couldn’t be more thankful that I get to experience this journey with the community God has brought together. I cannot wait to see what He has planned for us further down the road!
~ Alison Berard