“The Christians are coming!” Not your typical greeting, but it’s the greeting that is given by the native community of Kyuquot to the arrival of the youth from New Life Community Church in Burnaby, BC. For the last 8 years, New Life youth have been making the journey from big-city life in Metro Vancouver to small-village (about 200 inhabitants) life in Kyuquot, BC—a very isolated native reserve on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island.
From the beginning the vision has been simple. Spend a week in the community every summer. Run a Kids Club program (similar to a VBS) in the morning for the younger children, and then play with the kids for the rest of the day. Live as a team in such a way that Jesus is glorified.
Over time, as the children from the first Kids Clubs have grown up, so has the vision. Now it includes reaching out to the older kids, teens and adults through things such as: a potluck supper for the whole community; connecting with the older kids and teens by playing basketball, beading, watching movies, etc.; adult leaders drinking tea, attending birthday parties, and praying and connecting with the adults of the community as opportunity arises; and sending separate teams to perform practical acts of service to help the small and struggling church and its leaders while spending more time with the people of the community.
What does it say to a child who has been neglected (and possibly abused) when a Christian teenager gives them multiple shoulder rides (even if they accidentally wet their pants while riding on those shoulders), helps them with their crafts, baits their hook for the fishing derby, and then tells them about Jesus who loves them too? What does it say when that same teenager changes their shirt and gives them another shoulder ride?
The warmth of welcome that ‘the Christians’ receive from the children, youth and many adults is in contrast to the painful thoughts and memories that many of the older adults in the community likely had as a consequence of the residential school program in BC. Instead this new generation probably thinks of the friends they’ve made from New Life— the ‘Christies’ as they fondly call us. The people of Kyuquot’s perceptions of the Church—and of Jesus—are slowly changing.
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