Ottawa Innercity Ministries is a Christian charitable organization. Our founding verse is Micah 6:8
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.”
Micah 6:8 influences OIM’s approach to ministry, as our team works to embody the “justice”, “mercy” and faithfulness it describes. As a Christian charitable organization the faith of staff and volunteers shapes both how we choose to model our programs, the vocabulary we use each day, and the core values that shape our mission and vision.
Following the teachings of Jesus Christ, the traditions of his church, and the call of Micah 6:8, OIM strives to follow the philosophy of a strength-based model of ministry.
The strengths-based approach operates on the assumption that all individuals have talents, skills, and capacities to offer, however problematic their background or current circumstances might be. Rather than defining people by their ‘deficiencies’ (addictions, mental health issues, homelessness, poverty, etc.), OIM’s service perspective is to understand people through their strengths. It’s looking at the glass as half full, rather than half empty. All people have been given gifts, talents and experiences. We believe that if we could help our street-friends discover and develop these strengths, they may attain a higher quality of life, build a stronger sense of community and discover that they have the resources and ability to make positive life changes.
The Idea of ‘Street Friends’
Instead of focusing on an individual’s social status in our ministry, which we believe creates an “us” vs. “them” mentality, OIM invites its clients into a community of support where all are equal. This shift influences our vocabulary, and though in our literature we may refer to our “clients” we use the internal term of “street-friend”. We see clients not as “homeless” men and women (defining them by their lack of housing), but instead as “people experiencing homelessness”. At least 200,000 Canadians experience homelessness each year (Homeless Hub ), and it is often a short-term experience. We do not label ourselves as “housed”, and thus OIM chooses, in the same manner, not to identify its clients as “homeless”.
Justice, Mercy and Advocacy
OIM has three core values that shape its mission and vision: Ottawa Innercity Ministries is an interdenominational Christian charitable organization serving the poor and homeless in downtown Ottawa. OIM’s vision is to seek to come along side the poor to demonstrate care and compassion, to build trust, to impart hope, to enable and empower individuals towards positive choices and radical life changes.
Justice: It ranges in scope from our Supreme Court of Canada on Wellington Street (a fifteen minute walk from our office) to the equalized sharing of resources among our street friends under the Department of Defense bridge (about the same distance away). Justice can come from a government creating social policies that affect all Canadians, or from the distribution of food from the local food bank. Justice is doing what’s right; treating people fairly and equitably, and working to take proactive steps to fight injustice.
Mercy: Compassion and empathy birthed by a compelling motivation of the heart manifest into actions and service. Taking a little time to listen, to hear, and understand why things are the way they are. Every person experiencing poverty or homelessness has a story, but many often go unheard. Herein lies one of the greatest strengths of OIM: we are supported by churches, businesses, individuals who genuinely care for those who suffer, have no voice, and are the forgotten or alone. Volunteers show mercy and compassion. Churches and youth groups invest time and money to relieve the suffering of the afflicted. This is mercy. This is the love of Christ reaching out through His people.
Advocacy: The natural outcome of an understanding of justice (or injustice) combined with a penetrating depth of mercy. On one side, advocacy can be speaking for for the rights of the disenfranchised in the public forum, though it may also mean making a telephone call for a friend who suffers from schizophrenia and can’t make himself understood to his landlord. Proverbs 31: 8, 9 says, “Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.”