Vol 12 No. 36 Neighbours

Dear friends,

I thought I would let others give you a brief update on Fort McMurray.  Approximately $120,000 has come in so far.  It was very moving to talk to Sam Breakey and Dennis Stone about some of the stories they heard when they visited Fort Mac on our behalf.  First, here’s a link to our recent Making Connections article by Ceal McLean which gives you an overview.

Secondly, a report from Sam on his and Dennis’ trip in late July to Fort Mac.  Some of the stats may have changed including the repopulating of the town but it gives you an insight into what is going on:

Dennis and I went to Ft. McMurray via a ten-hour roundtrip drive. We visited with leaders of two ministries.

First meeting: Salvation Army Ft. McMurray Family Services coordinator, Dianne Rice.  She has been employed at this location for 12 years.  They have 40 people per day now with deep needs and increasing as families return.  She spoke of a desperate young woman with two children, who lost her job because of the fire, being evicted today because of shortage of funds.  FSC are trying to find her a new place and assist with costs.  Before leaving we prayed with Dianne.  There is a 15% increase in need since last Fall already because of lost jobs related to downturn in oil prices; now compounded by those who have lost jobs and the destruction of homes because of fire.

Second meeting: Northlife Fellowship Baptist Church: Associate Pastor, Mark Usher & volunteer coordinator, Rachel Ondang.

30% of the city has not yet returned yet church attendance has not suffered much.  The numbers in services are about the same even though the number of children has gone down as families are living elsewhere for summer.   Adult numbers have increased.  The Free Store has brought people.  80 – 200 people come to free store per day.  Rachel is the primary contact for materials from the free store. People trust her.  She is recognized all over town.  Many of all faiths are willing to return to the church foyer for coffee on Sunday and get a glimpse of congregational life.  (Rachel lost her own home but got her wedding rings back.  She tells us she is battling with insurance; they say her house is ok to return to but they have concerns about toxicity.  They had no insurance on their belongings.)  The church budget for showers and washrooms is $25,000 so that teams of volunteers can come from across Canada to serve the community.  Rooms are also available for sleeping.  There also are facilities for cooking.  The ongoing need – 10 volunteers from churches have a place to live but no place to have a shower.  Administration cost assistance would be helpful for part time positions.  One volunteer told her own church that ‘this is the place where God is; we need to help the people at Northlife Church.’  There are volunteer opportunities for youth ministry, free store, to give things out in the neighbourhood door to door.  In addition, Samaritan’s Purse is working on debris removal & cleanup & sending people to this church for personal care, and providing volunteers with food two times per day.  They don’t have time to request of others what they need yet God generously and extravagantly provides at the right time.  They are praying for baby dolls, quilts, praying for volunteers and then they are there.  The soup kitchen serves free lunches each day.  Free day camps were arranged after the fire: 80 kids attended the week we visited.  Our country needs to know we need their prayers; this is not going away. The municipality says rebuilding will take five years. We need ongoing prayer.

Please continue to pray and to be thoughtful about what God has called you to contribute.


In Christ,