In a quiet, isolated village in olde Pennsylvania, there lies a pact between the people of the village and the creatures who reside in the surrounding woods: the townspeople do not enter the woods, and the creatures do not enter the village. That is the storyline of the creepy 2004 movie starring William Hurt and Joaquin Phoenix. It has a surprise ending that that is worth the price of admission so I won’t ruin it for you.
I apologize for not posting the last couple of weeks. We have been in our annual Love Winnipeg campaign and I just couldn’t find time to get to my computer. Love Winnipeg is an initiative of the churches in our city to get out from behind the four walls of our buildings and love our city. 85 churches are participating this year. Donning our conspicuous red Love Winnipeg shirts we hit the streets to clean up garbage, plant flowers, mow grass, remove graffiti, feed the poor, hand out clothes, visit seniors, give inner city kids bikes, hosted carnivals and on and on and on.
Our church alone probably did 50 different projects. One team did an Honor your Heroes event where they visited the police and fire stations with home baked cookies and thanked them for what they do to keep us safe. They were visibly moved as almost no one ever thanks them for what they do. We have done the same with nurses and doctors in the hospital and teachers in the school. I have seen tears come to their eyes as we express our gratitude. Some of our young people headed down to a local club, Whiskey Dix and handed out bottled water and lolli-pops to the patrons waiting in a 250 person long line. The lolli-pops were a huge hit and they had lots of opportunities to share the gospel with a lost generation that is clearly seeking for something… they are just not sure what.
For me one of the funnest things we do is head down to The Village to hand out bottled water on street corners. Osborne Village is a unique area of Winnipeg just south of downtown. It is dotted with trendy little cafes, eclectic and unusual shops, and more than it’s fair share of tattoo parlours. The Village is where you will find goths dressed in black, gay men and women holding hands, squeegee kids washing car windows for a dollar, lots of young people, retirees that love the character of the area, welfare recipients heading to the grocery store, yuppies who enjoy the trendy urban setting and pretty much every other kind of person you can think of.
We ventured into The Village three times over the last week. Each time we simply took coolers full of bottled water and setup on a street corner. Tuesday we were there between Vicky the hot dog vendor, Peter the pedal car pusher, and Sarah the ‘observant’ Jewish sunglasses street vendor. She would not be there Wednesday because they would be observing Shavuot; a holiday commemorating Moses receiving the Torah.
Our little team of five people that night interacted with 100’s of ‘villagers’. A simple bottle of water was all that was necessary to get the conversation going. We prayed with a lady that had lost her husband. We offered to go over and move some boxes for a woman on welfare that said she could not manage them. One man explained to me how my teachings on television perfectly lined up with the new age cosmic confluence… uh huh? One couple told me their son lived down there and he had told them that if he ever was going to go to church, he would go to Church of the Rock. The reason? He had seen the TV preacher (me) there last year picking up garbage. Almost nobody that night a had a single spiritual clue. It breaks my heart when I see how lost people are. I don’t know what lasting results our time in The Village will produce, but my last encounter of the night made my day. An east Indian man got off the bus. I asked him if he would like some water. He responded, “Yes, I am parched, I was just thinking I needed water. Thank you.” As he walked away he turned back to me with a sly smile and said, “I was thirsty and you gave me to drink”… Matthew 25:35