“Building relationships with community organizations and churches is key to pursuing new ministry strategies.”
In response to our nation’s rapidly changing culture, One Hope Canada’s national board established a vision statement in 2018 to guide mission leadership and its 45 ministry points as together they consider future ministry endeavors.
The vision states that One Hope Canada will intentionally equip current and next generation leaders to be Gospel-centered and, aggressively pursue new ministry strategies that recognize cultural and geographical realities.
“Our new vision statement will focus our energies and initiatives for the coming years, ensuring that One Hope Canada can continue fulfilling the mandate God has given this mission since 1927,” explains National Board Chair Fedri van Dongen.
In this brief article, I look at the second part of the vision statement and show, that though unique, the mission’s 45 ministry points are united around One Hope Canada’s purpose and are discovering ways to actively pursue ministry strategies to fulfill that purpose. This often begins with a year-round focus on ministry.
“At one time we were known for summer-only ministry, but not anymore!” comments Bobby Cooper, director of Hope Bay Bible Camp. “Much has changed, and we’re almost as busy now in our weekly year-round ministry work.”
Bobby and his team have discovered that Hope Bay Bible Camp, located on Pender Island off the east coast of Vancouver Island, has a unique opportunity—due to its geographical reality—to fulfill the mission’s purpose: there are very few churches for the island’s more than 2,200 permanent residents. “The need for a consistent community on the island,” says Bobby, “led to weekly services, Sunday school, a Friday evening youth group, and a teen Alpha study. All these added to what people outside of camp ministry refer to as the off-season.”
Martin and Shannon Lord, directors of Dorion Bible Camp, an hour east of Thunder Bay, agree there is no off-season. “We are a small community and most people know how busy we constantly are,” comments Shannon. “There are year-round ministry opportunities, whether it’s weekly youth Bible studies in Thunder Bay or weekend retreats at the camp throughout the year.”
Martin points out that historically, summer Bible camp ministry was a byproduct of ministry that happened year-round. “In the formative years, summer camps were an extension of a year-round school ministry. Back then, when all missionaries conducted Bible studies in schools, it was an effective way to recruit summer campers.”
Our ministry points are discovering that building relationships with community organizations and churches is key to pursuing new ministry strategies that recognize cultural realities. “Our camp developed a relationship with Dilico—the local aboriginal children services organization,” say the Lords. “When foster parents need respite, the campers come to our camp for a week. This forms 50 percent of our summer campers.”
Ryan Skaling, director of Blomidon Bible Camp on the Bay of Fundy, says the new vision statement spurs him to connect with the local church. “Seeing BBC as an extension of the church changes how we minister year-round. I want to find creative ways, such as using camp ambassadors or camp days in churches, to connect our campers with a church. I also look to find how the camp can help the church with training and encouragement. This May, one of our day camp missionaries, Andrew Dorey, will hold a training session for the local church on teaching and building relationships with kids who have behavioral challenges.”
There are challenges to aggressively pursuing new ministry strategies—a lack of financial resources or time are common—but so is being misunderstood by those our missionaries minister to.
“My heart breaks when I see people in our community misunderstand our motive to love them,” says Bobby Cooper. “But this is how Jesus must feel every day. If my heart breaks, how much more is His breaking for those He made in His image? It is a powerful reminder that part of my job is to build trust with my community. I need them to know how much I love them because that is how God has chosen to show His love to them. We love because He is love, and therefore He can’t help but love.”
From coast to coast, One Hope Canada missionaries and volunteers make every effort to love over 7,000 children and youth each year in non-summer ministries and will continue to do so. Why? Because they resonate with Paul’s being compelled by the love of Christ. It is the love of Christ that spurs them to take an honest look at their mission field and respond with creativity, energy, and a desperate dependence upon God. This, as they move ahead with the eternal hope of the Gospel.
This article is the first in a two-part series on One Hope Canada’s vision statement by National Director Bill McCaskell.