Beyond Programs and Ministry

Summer interns and teens – our summer TCM Family   Picture by Charmaine Pasadilla

Summer interns and teens – our summer TCM Family
Picture by Charmaine Pasadilla

By Elita Fung (Outreach Worker in St. James Town)

“This is my TCM Family!” one of my teens insisted. Many times, at Toronto City Mission, we straddle between the lines of community programs and church. But “family” goes beyond the concept of a program, and dare I say, even the conventional views of “church”. There are many days where the idea that we are a “TCM family” is merely a sentiment. But what if it wasn’t just a concept, or a sentiment? What if it was a calling?

Well, for starters, it would surely offend every professional boundary our society is used to. Hasn’t every feel-good film chastised us to not bring our work home with us? It would even cross a few well-intentioned religious folks who insist that ministry is ministry and personal life is personal life. Be careful of burn-out, right?

I don’t have all the answers and I admit, this is something I’m still working through, thinking through, and living through, but all I know is this: if Christ came so that we, as enemies of God, would be adopted as heirs into His family, then we need to rethink our boundaries: our boundaries of ministry, community, family, and personal life. It would mean greater investment, greater sacrifice – and admittedly, this is something that scares me. Am I ready for this kind of radical call? And am I called to this radical relationship with every person I encounter? Or will God just call me to certain people?

Yet what if we all heeded this calling? We are to reach out to others – but we are not to reach out alone. I am a firm believer in building community around people, especially those who are particularly vulnerable and weak. Why have one person hold you up when you can have five – wouldn’t that be more stable? What would this all look like if we lived out this calling, not just as individuals, but as a community of believers? What if all of us began treating those in our “ministry programs” as family? As I said, I don’t have all the answers, only an inkling that our tidy, neat, compartments don’t sit so well in His Kingdom.