Monday, June 30, 2008

The Showers Saga - 24: Testifying at The Oasis

There are two key ingredients that have made The Lord's Rain work. One has been prophecy, as noted in a previous entry. The other has been people: people who have been tapped on the shoulder by God, to share their gifts in order to make it work.

Among the many who have responded to that call has been a group from The Oasis, an ACOP church in Duncan, which -- in what seems to be a previous lifetime -- helped me through a very dark period. They sent a work party over to Vancouver three times to build the frames and the sub-floor and install drywall.

Yesterday, I went back to The Oasis for what I realized was the first time in almost three years, and Brandon Wall spoke briefly about the image he had, that the Oasis was a small church, but small in the way that the point of an arrow is small -- effective and shooting straight to the heart of areas that need the light of Christ.

What a segue! Amelia leaned over and said to me, "That little arrow has already hit the Downtown East Side". Shortly after, Brandon pointed me out in the congregation and called me up to share with the others.

It was a chance to give the people who worked on the project a public acknowledgement of the impact their work is already having on the DTES:
  • this is about m0re than just showers. People come in to get cleaned up, but more importantly, they come into a place where they can hang out and be themselves, rather than the personas they have to put on for the "street scene"
  • people who come in have definitely taken ownership. Two of the people who had showers this past Saturday took a moment to wipe up the floor, and one woman -- who didn't shower -- saw water on the tile floor and laid down used towels so others wouldn't slip.
  • there is an amazing level of respect. We treat people with respect (some might say that getting treated as human beings is a novel concept for some of the people around there), and that respect is returned. Sometimes, it's almost comical -- hearing drug users warn others not to do their deals or smoke up in front of a house of the Lord.
  • people are finding a safe haven: I mentioned Candice, the girl who had come as far as our door a week ago Friday, and when Amelia asked her if she wanted to come in for coffee, she said she needed to talk to someone "and it's personal". Amelia took her up to Barry's office, then came back a couple of minutes later and took her to Vancouver General Hospital. Candice had OD'd, after trying to stay clean for a couple of weeks. Her parents are both addicts, too. After falling off the wagon this time, Candice figured her choice was hospital or suicide. Amelia helped her take the first option.
  • another unexpected consequence -- and a good one: the anointing is already spreading upstairs. Since the showers opened, there have been increasingly powerful services in the Carrall Street Church.

But when you talk about unexpected consequences, the impact that being involved with that project has on The Oasis has yet to be measured. A prayer that Brandon offered in another part of his remarks reflected a fact of life that I had forgotten in the five years since I last worshipped there (the visit three years ago was to spend a little time with my daughter at their summer Bible camp). Brandon prayed for provision and jobs for people who were unemployed. Being dependent on resource-based industries, Cowichan Valley is still being hammered by unemployment or spotty job prospects. We often prayed for God to continue providing for people when we would hear of a mill or a camp shutting down or cutting back. If there was ever a church where members of the congregation would -- in the world's way -- be unlikely to donate their time and skills (not to mention the cost of travelling from Duncan to Vancouver and back three times), it would be The Oasis. And yet they did, because God had called them to do it.

Consider Peter. The times when Jesus and His glory manifested in his life were times when Peter was involved with his trade. Jesus walked out on the Sea of Galilee when Peter was in a boat. When the Pharisees tried to suggest that Jesus and Peter should be paying their taxes, Jesus told Peter to go fishing. And when Jesus appeared to Peter, John and the others on the shore, Peter had gone fishing. He was plying his trade. Here, we have people who are skilled in building trades, doing what they've been anointed to do. That's the time when God starts to manifest in their lives, and it's not a long step from their to His providing for all of their needs.

And so that is our prayer for The Oasis: that God will see their obedience and their diligence in plying their trades, and will provide for all of them. Not just those who came to Vancouver, but those who stayed behind to "guard the stuff", as it were; the word of God (1 Sam. 30:24) says that they are equally entitled to the reward.

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