Community Outreach on the West Coast of Canada
David Chesney, BC, Canada
Vancouver and the surrounding communities on the west coast of Canada form a diverse multi-lingual society. A recent article in the Vancouver Sun noted that – ‘Many high schools have student populations speaking more than 75 non-English languages at home - Four out of ten of Metro Vancouver’s 2.1 million residents now belong to a visible minority - Student bodies at UBC, SFU and Kwantlen Polytechnic (the three main universities) are roughly 70-per-cent visible minorities - Scores of ethnic newspapers and TV stations report in dozens of Languages’. Langley is currently home to over 100 Karen refugee families from Thailand. All this makes it particularly challenging to reach out into the community with the gospel. At the Langley Gospel Hall, in addition to our regular meetings and door-to-door visitation, various successful avenues for presentation of the gospel are now used.
ESL (English as a Second Language)
English lessons are provided on Tuesday evenings from September to May. Normally, between six and fifteen people come each night, sometimes more. Apart from language instruction and social interaction, a clear simple gospel message is presented. Over the years several have been saved and one or two have been added to the assembly.
Each summer we set up a 10’ x 10’ tent booth at the Canada Day and International Day celebrations in Langley. These are two-day events attended by thousands of local residents. We are able to hand out over 500 gospel literature packages, in up to twenty different languages at each event. We are fortunate to have in the Vancouver area the International Bible House Publishing Society (an assembly-based ministry) and they supply us with good Christian literature in many different languages. Their website is at http://www.ibhgospel.com/. The tent incorporates a special Kids Zone which we constantly try to update to make it as informative and interesting as possible. Last year the zone included a hands-on interactive story of creation while this year it featured a walk-in model of Noah’s Ark which proved a real success
Kids Day Camp
A week of special children’s programmes is held each summer. This year was particularly successful due to the hard work and imaginative approach of our younger members. Over one hundred children came with an average daily attendance of about seventy children and parents. These contacts are followed up with invitations to Sunday School and special events throughout the year.
Pacific National Exhibition (PNE)
Langley also assists along with other local assemblies in the Vancouver Gospel Tent at the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE). This major event is held in Vancouver for seventeen days in August with over 800,000 in attendance. Spearheaded by Dave Smith of the Deep Cove assembly, this work has been carried on faithfully since 1973 and has borne much fruit in contacts made, souls saved, additions made to the local assemblies, and even in assemblies planted elsewhere.
One remarkable example is that of David Seed who was faithfully witnessed to by David Smith at the PNE for several years. David was eventually saved; his wife Rosa who came from Puerto Vallarta was also saved. Rosa’s mother came to visit, and was saved. As a direct result Rosa, David Smith, his wife Nina, and David Alves went down to Puerto Vallarta. There, helped by Doug Reid, a missionary from Costa Rica, house meetings were held. More souls were saved and so great an interest kindled that David Alves and his wife Lois were commended to the work in Mexico. Their labours were blessed and an assembly was formed in Puerto Vallarta one year to the day from the first meet-ing there. Branching out of that original work another thirteen assemblies have been planted throughout Mexico.
The great commission has never been changed ,’Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel’. Here, on the west coast of Canada, we don’t have to go very far. The world has come to us.