Written by Lauren Hebert
I am thrilled to be asked to share a bit more about MoveIn with my church family, as it is a movement that I have been involved in for 7 years here in Central McDougall, Edmonton. Although St. Paul’s does not support MoveIn as part of their regular missions giving, I have been so encouraged by the prayers and support of many in our community when they hear about what we are doing.
MoveIn started in Toronto in 2009 by a man named Nigel Paul. Nigel had a vision to see regular Christians moving in to the least desirable places to reach those who live in high-density, low-income neighborhoods (what we call “patches”) with the love of Christ. It is a physical presence among the people you wish to witness to, and a heart to serve the community. The foundation of our movement is prayer. Asher, myself, and our 2 other teammates meet every week as a group of people devoted to lifting up our neighbors and our neighborhood before the Lord, asking for His power and presence in and amongst those who are in need just next door. We recognize that our efforts to serve and care for our neighbors are just a “clanging symbol” if the Creator is not at work in the spirits of those around us. Praying draws us in to the love of God that He might fill our hearts with love for the oftentimes unlovable people around us. One of the interesting elements of MoveIn is that we are all tentmakers, with jobs and regular schedules like anyone else. We don’t require any financial support, but we do so appreciate prayers and gifts that people have given us to pass on to our neighbors.
I was first drawn to MoveIn when I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Alberta. It was time to gain some independence and move into my own apartment, but I wanted to do so thoughtfully, with a purpose. In prayer and seeking of God’s will, I connected with a friend who also wanted to move out from her parents’ home, and who told me about MoveIn. We met with a couple already living in a patch in Edmonton and felt peace in the decision to join their team. Since then I have been living in Queen Mary Park and Central McDougall, just off of 107 Avenue, the “Avenue of Nations.” It has been many years of ups and downs as I experienced wonderful relationships with newcomers and learned so much from our weekly prayer meetings, but also struggled to not be bogged down by the brokenness so apparent around me. We’ve had no small troubles with the regular challenges of low-income neighborhoods…pests, break-ins, vandalism, gunshots, sleeplessness. It has been a deep challenge to the scarcity-mindset of my heart to trust in the abundance of God for us both in the physical and spiritual.
In the time that I have been a part of MoveIn we have tried to make a consistent effort to be present to our neighbors and encourage them to connect with us. Whether this was through our community garden, volunteering at local service agencies, hosting English conversation group, or just going door-to-door with cookies, myself and my team have used the gifts and time God gave us to love our neighbors in simple daily ways. We are so imperfect in this, but we trust in the grace of God to use us to bless his children.
One thing I love about St. Paul’s is that I know that our community is full of authentic servants of God. It has been so life-giving to me to have a congregation of people I can join with in worshiping God and whose faith bolsters my own when I struggle to have hope. I know that you are using your gifts and stepping out to care in big and little ways for the people around you in your lives. It has been an encouragement to know that your hearts beat like mine, for the life-giving Spirit of Jesus to be poured out on those who thirst. Thank you for what you are doing, in direct and indirect ways, to love Jesus in the person of your neighbor. Thank you for speaking words from God during our listening time and for all of your voices raised in worship. Thank you for your prayers for the lonely, sick, hungry and ignored, whose faces surround my home. I ask also that you would pray for us, as we seek to walk in the way of Jesus in their midst. We need courage and endurance and much grace. I would leave you with just one encouragement, which is to intentionally pray for the people you bump into everyday. We all have neighbors. Some smell better than others, but they all were made to be filled by the life of Christ.
If you want to find out more about MoveIn, please visit the website, www.movein.to or feel free to get in touch with me (you can request my details from the office).