Move proves fulfilling for On Rock Ministries
By Robert White | Wednesday, January 4, 2012
MONTREAL, QCA move to a poorer part of Montreal has opened up a number of new opportunities for On Rock Ministries.
On Rock began in a predominantly white, middle-class area about six years ago as a drop-in centre for teens. As the ministry grew it found 70 per cent of its clients were coming from the A Ma Baie neighbourhood in the West Island.
"We had about 120 families a week who used the food bank, and only five or six [families] were from the area," says On Rock Ministries president Kim Reid.
So the ministry decided to move.
"We sold our building on St. Charles and moved to A Ma Baie in November 2010," says Reid.
Its new mission field comprises a number of apartments within a six to eight block radius, with residents who have an average salary of $12,000 a year.
On Rock continued with the food bank, which serves about 160 families a week and has 20 families on a waiting list. In the October 2010 it began the weekly Community Diner, which costs about $2 a person or $5 a family. At an average of 25 people a week the nominal fee doesn't cover the food costs.
"But we don't want them to get a sense that everything's a handout," Reid says. "Most can afford it."
In a letter to On Rock Ministries' supporters, he writes about the Community Diner's key benefit: "Through the Diner, we are building better relationships with some of the people we serve. This is the reason we moved to this neighborhood."
The move was the biggest challengeand rewardfor On Rock. Not only has it coped with increased demand, its staff and volunteers have learned how to minister to people different from them.
"The volunteers needed to look at life a little differently. They were used to working predominantly with Christian families," says Reid. "Here you're thrown into a huge mix where you need to be sensitive to other cultures.
"We need to see people as people, not Muslims, Sikhs, Jews or atheists. We need to see people as Jesus saw them, to love and serve them and let God open the doors.
"It's a growing experience."
As the new year begins, Reid has three goals for 2012: to continue to raise the profile of On Rock Ministries in the community, to get the drop-in centre up and running and experiment with a café for adults with mental illness.
"We're going to listen to the people and see what their needs are rather than decide what their needs are and start a program they don't want," says Reid.