Blog #398: The Ministry of Old Strathcona Street Mission

In our weekly church website blogs, we are in the midst of promoting and explaining those missions and ministry groups that we support in our yearly financial budget, as well as with prayer. We have already looked in these blogs at Cornerstone Counselling, Restored Ministries, the Mustard Seed. Today, and Adeara Recovery Centre. This week, we will look at the Old Strathcona Street Mission. The following information is taken from their website:

Aaron Cranton, his wife Wanda, and their son Kip moved to Edmonton on January 1st, 2023. Aaron writes, “Having heard about the economic opportunities that existed in Alberta we decided that we would take advantage of the oil boom and discover what Edmonton could offer us. Living alone far from my family and everybody I knew, I spent that first cold, dark winter working at several jobs that didn’t interest me. At night I’d walk around the neighbourhood of Old Strathcona wondering if this was going to be the right move for us. It was during these walks, particularly around Whyte Ave, that I began to take notice of the homeless people in the area. I suppose my feelings of loneliness from being isolated from my family and friends caused me to begin to sense what it meant to live homeless. Although there were people experiencing homelessness in London, I had never empathized with them. Homelessness means different things to people, but for me it meant living in isolation and distant from any healthy, meaningful relationships. Homelessness still means the same thing to me, however, since becoming a believer I also sense the disconnect with our Father in heaven that many of our homeless neighbours’ experience. While participating in a course called Focus 3 a.k.a. Vantagepoint3 I gained knowledge of my spiritual gifts (mercy, service, teaching) and through what sort of ministry God was calling me to practice His gifts, my experiences, my joys and my hurts so I began working volunteer weekly at the drop in for homeless and marginalized people in Old Strathcona. After a couple of months I noticed something miraculous happening. God’s Spirit was showing me that He was using my time at the drop in far beyond the acts of service required in operating a drop in e.g. handing out socks, mitts and pouring coffee. My eyes were open to what Jesus’ presence in the interactions I was having with the men and women at the shelter. Holy Spirit drew my attention to what Jesus was doing: 1) through me to the person with whom I was interacting, 2) within community and equally importantly 3) in my own heart and into my own brokenness that He would and could heal if I asked Him. This realization of God’s grace and mercy was transformative and foundational in the way that I viewed and practiced and continue to view and practice street ministry. Indeed, I view ministry primarily as a loving response from the love that Jesus has first for me. I also view ministry as a way that Jesus calls all members of the ministry i.e., ministers and ministerees to encounter Him and participate in and receive His healing. In other words, ministering through Mutually Vulnerable Relationships.”

Aaron then explains that he began his full-time commitment to the ministry God created in Old Strathcona. “After a month or so of ministering, I began feeling uncomfortable with ministering without a spiritual covering and not being formally accountable to anybody. So, from an affirmation by Wanda, I approached the pastors and leadership at Strathcona Baptist Church to participate with the street ministry by bringing the organization church together with the mission. We set up an advisory board made up of members of several churches to oversee the ministry and advise on issues. A few years later Dennis Fruck joined the ministry as a full-time missionary. Five years later in became apparent that to expand the ministry in the way that we sensed God was calling it was necessary to become our own entity (therefore to incorporate as a non-profit), obtain more space, and to seek stronger partnerships with local churches. The street mission now operates as a non-profit in a continually deepening partnership with Knox Evangelical Free Church in Old Strathcona.”

We serve Old Strathcona by:

Building relationships to encourage and facilitate positive changes in purpose, lifestyle and behavior;
Connecting participants with agencies equipped to provide longer term support;
Advocating for justice, mercy and compassion on behalf of those who are vulnerable through regular meeting with various entities that interact with marginalized and homeless, such as local police and businesses.
As a church family, we at Southgate Baptist Church are pleased to be able to support the ministry of the Old Strathcona Street Mission, and we continue to pray God’s blessings upon it.

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