Well friends, I have almost finished three weeks in Toronto. I am over halfway done with my trip and that alone blows my mind. I don’t know why I am surprised to say that the Lord has completely ruined every expectation or idea I had about the city, and rebuilt them completely — stronger, better, and more Gospel centered.
My first two weeks here I really struggled finding my place. Our team has decided on two neighborhoods in Toronto to build a perspective for — The Annex and Leslieville. Everything in Toronto is divided by neighborhood, even though it collectively makes up the city of Toronto. Although it sounds like suburbs, both areas are very much in the city. Leslieville being the east part of Toronto while The Annex is considered downtown. We’re split 5 people and 5 people between the two neighborhoods.
I ended up on The Annex team which has truly thrown me out of my comfort zone. The Annex is somewhere completely different than where we’re staying, even though it’s only a couple of subway stations away. It’s a darker part of the city. What use to be an older run down part of downtown is now being taken over by young couples and even families as they find that The Annex can be a great place to be an entrepreneur. Though on the “up and coming” there are still remnants of darkness floating around. It’s most commonly seen through the many psychic parlors, religion centers, and strip clubs. Partnering with future church planter, Adam and his wife, I have truly been pushed out of my comfort zone. Adam lives in this area of town and is hoping to plant his church in the middle of all of it. This area holds significance of who Adam use to be before Christ, and it will now hold a new and better significance of who Christ has become in Adam.
This past Friday night we spent some of our night at a men’s shelter a couple of streets down from Dundas Station (what would be considered the “Times Square” of Toronto). It’s called the Seaton House, but we later found out it is known by the community as “Satan’s House”. This is the most spiritually dark place I’ve ever been. Satan’s House seems like the perfect description. You can feel the stronghold of sin affecting the entire place. It also isn’t run by a christian organization. Originally, there was suppose to be no religious affiliation, but as Pastor James put it, you can’t stop God. The house is on one of the worst streets in Toronto. The streets are filled with crack addicts and sellers — crack is what that street is known for. Our purpose for being there was to worship. Friday nights at Seaton House are worship nights for those who choose to attend. There were only a few men who showed up after we had been outside inviting people in (another way Satan is truly messing with that place). First, I started out incredibly freaked out. Being a young girl in men’s shelter with a horrible reputation can be extremely intimidating. I’m embarrassed to say I spent a lot of my time at the beginning with my head down because I wasn’t sure what to expect. As time passed, The Lord ruined my heart for that place. I spent the entire night crying and praying for these men to know Christ and desiring for them to find something above all of this. I was truly a wreck. I ended up meeting a few really nice guys who lived there. One was named Abdi. Fleeing the war in Somalia, Abdi ended up at Seaton House with two ex-wives and many children. My heart broke for him simply because he left a physical war, only to battle a spiritual one inside the house. Spending my night at Seaton House has been one of my top experiences. I felt so much sin and darkness until our crowd proclaimed in worship that Jesus has the power to break EVERY chain.
The main place I am investing in here is a place called David’s Tea. It is really a win-win situation. The tea is refreshing while making relationships is also. I go to David’s everyday (sometimes two or three times because it is just so good..). I have met quite a few of the ladies who work there. I take my journal or my book and read or write. That has been my main avenue of making relationships. I’ve firmed pretty solid ones with three of the girls who work there. I’m working on sharing the true meaning of why I’m in Toronto for the summer besides saying, “Oh, I’m actually here to help get some church plants started in the area.” I’m working on revealing the true love of Christ and glory of God through these every day moments.
The people of Toronto are so open and polite, most of the time they start conversation with you. Praise the Lord for that. They are being bold for us.
Continue to pray for my team. That we are affective and attentive in every moment.
Continue to pray for the city. Only 3% of people in Toronto know Christ. (It’s 2% or less that qualifies a group as an unreached people group..) These are our neighbors.
Pray for David’s. That the simple tea place down the street would become a place where people are introduced to Christ for the very first time.
Pray for Dufferin Grove. This is the focus area of our Annex team. It is filled with parks and families who need Christ just as much.
I love this city, but sometimes the darkness of it is masked by it’s own beauty.
P.S. We are also doing TONS of fun things like celebrating Canada Day and heading down to Toronto Island. And also watching New Girl in our down time. And going to make our own pizza in Dufferin Park with their community garden.