Dear Pastors and Leaders,
As the events of April 23 unfolded at Yonge & Finch in Toronto, Pastor Bruce Jones and the staff at Willowdale Baptist Church knew they had to act. Not only are they the closest church to the attack, WBC saw many people coming into their neighbourhood to visit the site and to grieve.
They prayed about their response, and the Lord prompted them to open the church so that the visitors and media personnel could have a place to come for refreshment and for prayer.
Hot coffee, a place to charge your phone, and someone with whom to pray might sound small in the face of such a great tragedy, but God-sized things happened after the church opened their doors. In addition to their own church family coming to serve, Rapid Response Chaplains arrived from the Billy Graham Association to minister to the people of Willowdale, and at least four people were led to Christ. Also, the Family Life Centre at Tyndale sent trained Christian counsellors and therapy dogs to WBC to help meet the emotional needs of the visitors. Finally, a local businessman who is not connected with the church heard about the ministry of WBC and brought in coffee and other refreshments at no charge.
Pastor Bruce is encouraged by how their church has been able to meet the immediate needs of the community, and now looks to how they can have a long-term impact. Long after the media has left the area, people will continue to need care and love, and WBC wants their neighbours to know that the church is a safe place to come and explore their faith, and that they can find complete healing in Jesus Christ.
The Sunday following the van attack, there was an inter-faith vigil at which thousands of people walked Yonge Street singing, “Because He lives I can face tomorrow.” As people who love and follow Jesus, we know this is true, but will you pray for the Willowdale community, that they would know there is hope and life even in the face of tragedy? Drop Bruce a note and let him know you are praying for him and his church.