By Gala, Outreach Worker in Kingston-Galloway
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." - Joshua 1:9
I remember the day I began my ministry at Toronto City Mission. I first set foot in Kingston-Galloway 5 years ago. I pulled into the church parking lot in my teal blue 1992 Chevy Cavalier and eagerly walked through the doors of St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church. Armed with a music degree, a handful of volunteers (one who would become my future husband), I entered the old church without a single clue as to what I was doing. I should also mention the overwhelming fear of starting a ministry in a place where I was completely out of my comfort zone. There was nothing outstanding about my qualifications other than the fact that I was young, loved working with kids, and had a passion for the gospel. In spite of the lack of my qualifications, or preparedness for the ensuing, chaotic adventures of working with these kids; one thing was clear to me: the calling to ministry. I guess you could say that was my only solid qualification for this job - but even in those first moments, I knew not to be afraid and discouraged, because the Lord would be with me wherever this ministry would go.
My life quickly settled into endlessly doing dishes, resolving arguments, consoling teary kids, sweeping up endless bits of saliva laden snack remnants, and earning the respect and trust of crazy hurt children. There were many times spent having conversations with kids about their choices in behaviour and opportunities to speak the truth of the gospel in their life. There was a lot of planning to do and fundraising goals to be met; tons of games to think of and Bible lessons to plan - not to mention 25 rowdy kids to stop from “accidentally” breaking another piece of church property. There were amazing volunteers who helped shape the beginnings of this program - an answered prayer and incredible blessing! There were also amazing teams of summer interns and many HILARIOUS moments shared between us each summer. There were amazing moments where we could see moms and kids learn how to trust God and look to His Word. There were joyful times of boisterous, side splitting laughter; and then there were times where I would hide in the cleaning closet and bawl my face off in discouragement (...yes, that really did happen). In the midst of ministry, there were many moments to not only speak about the unrelenting goodness and grace of God, but to truly live it out and mean it. This ministry taught me many things; mostly that life is hard, people are broken and that the power of the gospel is the only thing that changes hearts and transforms lives. In spite of all the joys and seemingly unsurmountable challenges of ministry over these few years, the call to be strong and courageous helped me to keep pressing on - because I knew deeply in my heart that the Lord would be with me wherever I would go.
Here I am today, 5 years later and about to embark on a new journey in ministry. It feels eerily similar to when I first began at TCM except here is a strange bittersweet tension in moving forward and leaving behind such an incredible experience. I don’t know what God has in store for the next season in ministry at Harvest Bible Chapel; and it is tempting to be fearful and anxious as I fill the shoes of the amazing leader before me- but I know that God is faithful and equips those who are called. Maybe you are in a place where God is calling you to do something but you are filled with anxiety and fear. Maybe God is calling you to do something you think is impossible and will never work out. Maybe you’re in the midst of discouragement and ministry is overwhelming you, or maybe you are facing a future that is crippling you with fear because you are having a hard time trusting in God’s promises. In spite of all your fears, discouragements and doubts,nothing is more solid than this promise: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Gala served at Toronto City Mission first as an intern in September 2011, shortly after her internship, she served as an Outreach Worker in Malvern for one summer, then moved to help launch the new ministry community Kingston-Galloway in October 2012. Gala brought her passion for the kids and families along with her musical talents to bless TCM. We are both overjoyed and sad to see her go and we wish her every blessing on her new role as Children's Ministry Director at Harvest Bible Church.