Each spring, my wife and I find joy in feeding the birds that frequent our large rural Ottawa backyard. Together we peer out at our many-winged visitors through the kitchen window or separately through the patio doors. Species include beloved cardinals, chickadees, doves and nuthatches. Uninvited, yet equally welcome, guests are feisty red squirrels and their companion, more docile black squirrels.
Our love of nurturing nature in this simple way brings great joy.
While most of us understand the need to nurture God’s creation, helping people living on the margins may not always come so naturally. Judgement, criticism and stereotypes sometimes precludes caring for people in need.
Street outreach organizations like Ottawa Innercity Ministries, however, look beyond ‘first impressions,’ scratching below the surface to the person underneath. They do so by sustaining life on the streets of our fair city and bring great joy to those in need.
Each day of the week, volunteers generously donate a couple of hours of their time to provide food, clothing and words of affirmation to our street friends. The outpouring of Jesus’ love and warmth during this brief interaction offers hope, which can enable the escape from the prison that is street life.
OIM conducts drop-ins, a youth art program and advocacy to those who grasp at this hope and seek a better life.
We know that these interventions bring with them joy through faith in a better future.
Isaiah 43 v 1: “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name, you are mine.”
-Peter, Street Outreach Volunteer