At GRACE we believe Christianity is about being ON MISSION with Jesus IN CULTURE, which means we’re looking to make a PRACTICAL difference in the World, both here at home in Guelph and further afield.
A key way we achieve this is by partnering with our Members to help them DO God’s good work in the REAL world, with our collective resources backing them up.
To that end we set aside TEN PERCENT of our total annual income (about $45,000 last year) to GIVE BACK here in Guelph and Internationally. Additionally we support the Parkwood Gardens Neighbourhood Food Bank on a monthly basis (we donate $5 for every visitors card we receive each week) AND engage in several specific ‘seasonal’ outreaches each year.
If you would like to get involved in giving back in this way, give generously at Grace and/or contact us.
Update from Mark Brown- Quito, Ecuador (August 2018)
When you travel to Ecuador on a Mission Experience, the people on the ground in Ecuador start the visit with a challenge, “what fruit will you bear when you are finished this experience?”
Most of us get involved in any mission with a hope to make a difference and when we do, we find that it changes us. This year’s mission to Ecuador, Grace’s eighth, may be counted as the best yet. It was not the best because of the people going, the weather or what we experienced but rather because of the fruit. The fruit is that which we saw when we were there.
We have always had wonderful experiences participating in the project by being part of the kids lives for a few days and working alongside those who have committed their lives to making a difference in this very poor area on the edge of Quito Ecuador. This year’s team experienced all those things and we had a great time! However, for those of us that have been there before (and for some, many times) we noticed something new. We saw that Pastor Fabian and his wife Grace have done an amazing job of raising a new generation of leaders. Here are the stories of just a few of them.
Clebor started at the project when he was six. He is currently attending Seminary through a scholarship program and he is now the director of the program which is responsible for feeding, tutoring and providing basic child care for up to 350 children 5 days a week. He is a very bright young man, passionate about his faith and in love with each of those little kids.
Priscilla also started in the program at a very young age. She has completed Seminary with help from Canada for her studies and currently runs the children’s programs at the project.
At the church are two other engaging young men, Eric and Marvin. They are both attending Seminary though scholarships offered by the church. Eric is leading the worship team and Marvin the youth program. Both young men started at the project as little boys.
A few others are worth mentioning. Caroline, who has completed Seminary will graduate this year with a bachelor’s in social work. Liz will graduate this year with a bachelor’s in Education. Both have been supported with Canadian funding to complete their studies. It’s interesting to note that Caroline and Priscilla were among the first 5 kids from the area to graduate high school when a Grace team visited for the first time ten years ago.
One last girl is Bernice. Bernice was abandoned as a girl and has had a very sad life. She was taken in by a single mom. We met Bernice perhaps 8 years ago and remember her as an extremely shy girl without a smile. Today she is a confident young woman with a strong faith and she is currently entering her third year of pre-med.
Every time we travel to Ecuador we return with a team who has been captured by God and shown what He can do through the commitment of a few in the midst of poverty. It is difficult if not impossible to not see God at work. As we return the challenge is always to bear fruit and let God work through us in our own community. Not all of us will travel to Ecuador but all of us can be used by God wherever we are. Those of us that have been there have witnessed the fruit and it was awesome to see some of that fruit maturing during this visit.
Support of Young Women in Lesotho - Ithabeleng
Ithabeleng is 17 years old and has one year left of high school to complete. She moved in with some relatives after her parents both passed away. She became unruly and her guardians decided to abandon her. She was referred to a Bracelet of Hope foster homes where she had her own bed, access to nutrition, education and a loving foster mother. She attended a high school party where she later realized that she had become pregnant from actions with an older youth. When the discussion came up, the boy who had participated in the act stated he was not interested in supporting her or the baby. Ithabeleng is due to have her child at the end of September.
In Canada, there are many options for pregnant youth, however in Lesotho, it often means leaving school, moving away from the friends and school you know and not returning to school. Ithabeleng now lives with her aunt in a home with her cousin. The aunt does not have the resources to support her, as she cleans houses to make a living. In order for Ithabeleng to have a chance in life, she needs to go back to school. By supporting her education and the payment of a child care worker, Ithabeleng can finish high school and have a chance at a career to support herself, her new baby and her family.
Because of the generosity of people from Grace Community Church, Ithabeleng and her aunt will now have the resources to pay for child care and education for Ithabeleng. This will be the start of a brand new life for them, and BoH personnel are so thankful to know that she will have the opportunity to grow and thrive like other young women.
Beginnings Family Services / Pregnancy Care Centre
For several years, Grace has supported Beginnings with financial and volunteer assistance. Some volunteers sort, clean and organize clothing and baby supplies while others teach the Baby Smarts program that is offered in local high schools.
Beginnings serves anyone who requests help with an unplanned pregnancy. They also support partners and family members. Beginnings provides information, material aid, and support to all regardless of race, religion, lifestyle, age, or financial ability. Sandy Brown is our Grace/Beginnings contact person.
Parkwood Gardens Neighbourhood Group (PGNG)
PGNG is an organization that provides a variety of community-based programs to meet the needs of families and children in their neighbourhood.
Some of their programs include an emergency food cupboard & clothing closet, teen drop-in programs and an after-school homework program for elementary-level children. Grace has been privileged to be able to coordinate and provide the door-to-door collection for an annual neighbourhood food drive. As well, our congregation has had periodic clothing drives and provided volunteers for some of the after -school programs. Kathy Goetz is our Grace/PGNG contact person.
The Life Centre (TLC)
TLC is a downtown mission in Guelph. Their goal is to provide a safe and loving environment for anyone who is in need. Each week they provide up to 600 meals and a variety of programs at no charge. Grace is humbled and honoured that we can contribute monthly financial help and that some of our volunteers are hanging out and serving TLC guests. Bobby Clark is our Grace/TLC contact person.
Impact Ecuador (IE)
IE focuses on supporting the people of Carmen Bajo, a poor neighbourhood in Quito, through the ministry of Carmen Bajo Church. Due to high unemployment, there is widespread poverty in the community, and social problems such as alcoholism and family degradation are common.
Since 2009, Grace has been able to send financial support and mission teams to Carmen Bajo where a children’s program is a place of refuge and growth for an increasing number of kids in the community who otherwise would be on their own from very early in the morning until late at night. Operated in partnership with Compassion International, the program provides a hot lunch and a half-day of tutoring to hundreds of kids each week. In recent years, post-secondary education has become possible for some of the kids which is helping families become self-sufficient. Mark Brown is the Grace/IE contact person
Grace values our partnership with Bracelet of Hope (BoH) a Guelph-based organization that supports a foster home program for children in Lesotho whose parents have died from AIDS. Our contact in Lesotho is Pastor James Qhobela who oversees orphanages where up to eight children live in each home with a foster mother or parents to care for them. The foster mothers receive a small stipend for their work and the program provides the children with food, heating fuel, school fees and uniforms, and medical treatment when needed. Grace sends a monthly financial contribution for the orphanage program and our volunteers pray for the various needs.