"Quarterly newsletter connecting you
to what God is doing
through Connect City."

Inside this edition: Receive encouragement as you read what God is doing in the midst of these crazy times. Also, get updated on some exciting ways you can help make a difference this summer through Connect City. 
As we were finishing off this newsletter the horrible news about George Floyd's death by police in Minneapolis was just being shown across all media outlets. As followers of Jesus we abhor and despise such evil and abuse of power. We cannot ignore this travesty and many other forms of senseless evil that impact the black community. Though this newsletter is focusing on our response to Covid -19 we are currently planning on giving a platform for our black youth to address racial injustice from their perspective. Please stay tuned for more information so you can listen in on what they have to say about the evils of racial injustice. 


Jordan Thoms and Jon Folkeringa with a load of food to deliver to their people in their neighbourhood 
No one saw this day where we would have to self - isolate, wear masks and sanitize whenever possible.  But here we are and it is here where we need to innovate and create new ways of ministry in joining God in his work among our neighborhoods. Covid - 19 is a terrible thing and we respect and follow what our health experts are telling us as we put people first and seek the best for them. At the same time, we realize many people are suffering from financial struggles, food shortages and loneliness. In response to this we at Connect have been very busy:
  • Finding food and masks from donors and delivering it to families in need
  • Volunteering at the local food bank and delivering food
  • Dropping off baked goods to needy families to let them know we care
  • Visiting our people from a safe distance while wearing masks
  • Constant calling and Zooming our people to make sure they are all doing well
  • Providing counsel for families in crisis
  • Leading weekly Zoom Bible studies and prayer times online
  • Hosting movie and games nights via Zoom
  • Planning our summer programs and hiring 13 young people to work with us in serving their neighborhood and in the emergency housing for refugees.
  • Etc 
Yes, we have been as busy as ever and we are seeing much fruit from our labour. People are opening up to us concerning their struggles and are receiving the hope of Jesus. New people are joining us in our two weekly Zoom Bible studies and some are even asking to be baptized (how do we do that in Covid?). God is on the move as usual and Covid - 19 cannot stop God in what he is doing. All we need to do is just follow God's lead, and when we do this, we quickly discover that we find him everywhere we go. After all God;

"Is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being." - Acts 17: 27, 28

As you can see from the pictures below - God is not stopped by Covid but continues to bless precious souls through the support and prayers of people like you as you join us at Connect City to continue the mission of Jesus here in our city. 
Surprising children with gifts and McDonalds, dropping off baby gifts for new mothers and preparing masks are wonderful ways to let people know that God loves them during these trying times. 
We refuse to let Covid - 19 stop us from running summer programs for children, youth and families in our Scarborough housing neighbourhood and with refugees living in emergency housing.

We are excited to announce that we are hiring 19 young people to plan and run our summer programs for our children, youth and their families. We are hoping to add a strong leadership development component for our summer team focusing on character as well as providing each of them with a mentor for the summer. Some of the things we are discussing as possible program components are:
  • Volunteering at local agencies such as Scarborough food banks and doing neighbourhood clean - ups or planting gardens, etc while social distancing and wearing PPE.
  • Leading a "Camp In A Box" program where we provide weekly materials (arts & crafts supplies, little toys, science experiment materials, colouring and games, etc) that will be delivered to their homes or hotel rooms (for refugee families) each week. Then we will lead various activities online. 
  • Ongoing youth leadership training and mentoring
  • Other weekly activities like online cooking classes (we deliver the ingredients and food to all participants), exercise, dance and movie parties. Game nights, online book clubs (we provide the books) and our regular Bible Studies, etc 
  • Planning, editing, producing and hosting weekly podcasts with a variety of shows that will give our youth a voice, and encourage their neighbourhood, all at the same time. 
  • Drive way concerts, plays and tricks, etc while wearing masks and adhering to social distancing.  
All of the above will take place under the health regulations given to us by the Ontario government (thus so much virtual activity).

Once again we rely on people like you to help support what we are doing. Please consider praying for our summer programs and the youth we hire. We also ask that you consider supporting our summer program.  We are now raising money to provide PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for our staff when they are outside and we also need to purchase food, arts and crafts supplies, podcast mics, more Zoom accounts, etc so that we can run effective summer programs. Please take the time to make a difference this summer by supporting our summer in the city programs. 
Though we can't enjoy the great outdoors like we did last summer we still can create a loving community the best we can through virtual friendships. 

More information will be sent out soon about how you can support our summer in the city.
Locked and loaded - all geared up and ready to go. 
The other day I had the privilege and honour to make a social distancing visit to a young family in one of our under – resourced, Scarborough neighbourhoods. The purpose of the visit was to bring some essential supplies to help this family out during these crazy days of Covid – 19.  As I walked the streets of the neighbourhood with my mask on, I was struck by the fact that mostly everyone there were not following the safety protocol for social distancing or wearing masks. This was especially worrisome when I came across a family with a new born baby.

I share this with you not to shame the wonderful and precious souls living in this neighbourhood but to shine some light on how this awful virus disproportionately impacts vulnerable people – seniors, those with health problems and those struggling economically.  This neighbourhood has an apartment for the elderly as well as recovering drug addicts - both fertile soil for a virus to rip through too many lives. The rest of the community consists of mainly single mom - led families of many children and youth. So, why does this neighbourhood seem to not take Covid – 19 seriously? 

I believe there are many answers for why this appears to be the case. Each of these answers reveal a real struggle that low – income families, and neighbourhoods, have to deal with on a daily basis. For example:
  • If you struggle financially what would you choose to purchase – masks or food?
  • If you live in a small, over - crowded housing apartment, with a lack of privacy or personal space you are just dying to get outside. In this reality, self – isolating at home is a very hard thing to do.
  • If your life is in constant crisis an invisible enemy like Covid – 19 will end up at the bottom of your list of worries.
  • If you don’t have a credit card to order masks, etc then how would you get them as they are sold out in stores.  
  • If you are hardened by, or experienced violence or even death in your neighbourhood, then something invisible, like Covid – 19, is seen as the least of your concerns.   
  • If your energy is sapped by poverty and all the tension associated with it, you might lack the strength to take all the precautions you are asked to do.
  • If you have your hands full of so many pressures having to control your children to be safe is a very real struggle. 
  • If you don’t have a car you are left with no choice but to commute via public transit to get groceries or go to work (if you have a job?). This opens the door for more of a potential to get the virus which is multiplied by the fact that you do not own a mask, etc.
  • And the list goes on.
Most of us are able to fight back against Covid – 19 but let’s remember, pray, help out wherever possible and refrain from judgment, to those who lack the resources we have. Let us also pray for our frontline heroes who serve so well!
- Rev. Colin McCartney
There is a wonderful cartoon that has been circulating of Satan taunting God by claiming to shut down the church through Covid - 19. In response, God counters Satan's move by saying He opened churches in every home. 

At times, evil might seem to be getting its way in our world, but God often can work through evil to bring about good. Now, in saying this, in
no way do I believe that God started this pandemic. However, God can work through it to bring good out of a terrible situation. After all, God has done this before as seen in how the great revivals of the past swept into our world during some of the darkest moments of our history. Yet, those trying times birthed wonderful followers of Jesus who shared the Gospel transforming darkness into light as people surrendered their lives to Jesus. People like the great revivalist preacher, Charles Finney, was used by God to not only save souls but to raise up converts to join the abolitionist cause to end slavery. Interestingly, Finney was the originator of the altar call in which he called people to come forward to the altar to receive Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. When they came forward Finney had a book waiting for them to sign up to join the abolitionist cause and to commit to free any slaves they might own. Satan might bring darkness but God brings light out of the darkest nights.  

I have seen churches shine brightly during these difficult days and I am so thankful for all them and their leaders who continue to love their people and this city. They are proving that this virus cannot stop God's loving mission. One thing I notice is that Covid is making pastors constantly check in on their people to make sure they are doing well. So, why not return the favour? Give your pastor a call to see how they are doing and then ask how you can help your church thrive in the midst of Covid? If enough of us do this, Covid - 19 might be the catalyst to bring all of us together. When sparks join up they become a great fire of revival that can sweep into our churches and our city.  As the old song goes; "It only takes a spark to get a fire going."  

For us at Connect City, Covid has fired us up. It has shown us that our vision of planting innovative, unique expressions of church that are highly communal and participatory, works. This is seen in how we have been able to flex and adapt to our changing society. Our communal and participatory spirit manifests itself in our support for one another through home visits (from a safe distance), care packages, food deliveries, etc as well as plenty of calls and Zooms. Though we love being together in person we have easily pivoted to meeting online.  In some instances we have seen our weekly Bible study grow since we adapted to Zoom gatherings around the word of God. 
Our mission continues as well. Though this horrible virus is evil it provides us a plethora of challenging opportunities in bringing God's blessing to our city. These are sparks for revival. 

So, don't give up, get fired up! Be the body of Christ in and through your church. Remember, the kingdom of God advances through his sparks who are followers of Jesus serving our King by loving the precious souls God loves. Be encouraged, get involved and pray these days through as opportunities for revival as you enact God's reign wherever you are. 
Some of our sparks gathered around a fire!   
Help us build leaders in our city who will lead simple churches to be beacons of light in the darkness of our urban neighbourhoods. 

Jesus said he is the light of the world and told us to shine brightly for him through him living in us;
"Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." - Matthew 5:16

With your help we seek to shine the light of Jesus in our city by being the body of Christ planted throughout neighbourhoods in simple, "New Testament" type churches through hospitality, kindness & Spirit - filled love for Jesus & others. 
We don't have high tech programs or expensive buildings to maintain but focus on people through loving mission & nurturing relationships meeting in homes, community centers or any other place that is welcoming to people. We envision that one day we will see hundreds of simple churches spreading throughout our city as beacons of light amidst the darkness & despair that is present in far too many neighbourhoods. This is why we are serious about building young leaders to build simple inner - city churches that participate in the progress of the Gospel in government housing projects & beyond. 
Connect City is a faith - based organization that trusts God to provide for our financial needs through people like you. Please consider supporting Connect City and the various ministries we operate. Just click on the green button above and follow instructions or send cheques to the address below. God bless. 
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27 Toynbee Trail
Toronto, Ontario M1E 1E8

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Connect City · 27 Toynbee Trail · Toronto, Ontario M1E 1E8 · Canada

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