Updated: Nov 29, 2021
What Can We Do?
Branford, Ontario is a city that I have visited many times and have watched with interest how Christians in that city are passionate about bringing the Kingdom of God to their area of influence. Even during this challenging season of COVID 19 nothing has slowed down, in fact, Christians in Branford are being more creative in their approach.
Be inspired by their story.
There have been so many things during this pandemic that we CAN’T do. In fact, it’s been a very challenging time to find the things that we CAN do! In Brantford, as many of you who have been following our story through Ian’s ministry know, we have long used active Micro-level community kindness as a tool to see Macro-level community transformation. And quite effectively I might add. But for us (and most likely for some of you as well) many of our go-to ideas simply didn’t work given the very different parameters that our world has been forced to grapple with.
In fact, we had a GREAT idea (or so we thought) of doing a “COVID Kindness Award” initiative where our local Superhero, Captain Kindness, would honour and bless those who were going above and beyond for others. It dropped like a lead balloon for seemingly “no good reason.” I put that in quotes because when God inspires one of His ideas, there is never a “no good reason.” It’s just sometimes not the reason we thought it would be.
In preparation for the awards, we were about to contact a locally owned Ice Cream shop that we often partner with… out of habit. They regularly give us free ice cream to give away as acts of kindness. As we were about to pick up the phone, we realised that they were suddenly one of those “hurting small businesses” that we all hear about on TV. So we flipped the transaction.
I called the owner and told her that we were going to buy the ice cream instead of asking her to donate it. She was incredibly moved and said that the toughest part of this pandemic for her was not being to be as generous in the community because paying her staff was her top priority. It was so meaningful for her to have someone (a Church no less) turn the tables and acknowledge the important role that small business DOES play.
It was 2 Corinthians 9:10 in action. “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.”
While this was exciting and interesting, it was not nearly as interesting as the phone call I received soon after. My friend Tim Schindel is the Director of Leading Influence Ministries in Victoria, British Columbia. They provide chaplaincy services to most Provincial Governments as well as in Ottawa for our Federal MP’s. He said, “Dave… I’ve had a dream about how God wants His Church to help revive our Canadian economy.” We soon named it; The Big Spend. I shared my small, Micro-level interaction with our ice cream shop and we realised that this was exactly how we could communicate God’s vision on a Macro-level!
Quickly, we were able to assemble a team that fleshed out the dream, because there was just … something about it. It was the right idea at the right time. On July 25th in Canada, we estimate 1.5 million Canadians spent an average of 12$ at local small businesses with the purpose of transformation. That is an estimated 18 Million dollar injection in local economies. Economic research says that local small businesses recirculate around 5 times more back into local economies than multinationals. Doing the math on that means an amazing day for Canadian cities.
It was a collective effort, done as an offering to God, using the right idea… for the right time.
The other thing that actually transformationally worked for us in Brantford was a multi-church food drive through what we call, “OneChurch.” During a time where local Churches were desperate for a way to tangibly help, we realized that “The Church” COULD rally bodies to meet the increased demand for food. This was our 2nd annual food drive, but we didn’t know how, or if, we’d be able to do it safely during the pandemic. Well… we worked with our local government, our local food bank and our local Churches.
Over 500 volunteers joined forces in Brantford and collected 44,000 lbs of food for the Brantford Food Bank. With 55 skids of food, this was the largest single donation the Food Bank had ever received. Incredible. To top that off, our friends in the small town of Paris Ontario (just outside of Brantford) partnered and collected an additional 20,000 lbs of food for their community too. The storehouses were literally overflowing.
What I have learned about transformation during this pandemic? Nothing that I didn’t know before but all too often forget. God REALLY, HONESTLY, TRULY, FULLY, COMPLETELY, TOTALLY (did I miss any superlatives?) loves showing His Love to our World through His people in tangible ways. If we’re listening, He’ll speak. Then it’s just up to hear God and obey. The rest is up to Him. And He’s really good at “the rest.”