An Operation Manna Partner since 2011, FLWS (in Edmonton, AB) is an initiative that seeks to support single-parent families by providing hope and addressing needs. This post was submitted by FLWS Executive Director Elaine Mulder.
Sometimes when we talk about outreach, we dwell on big things like going on a mission trip, or putting on a big community event or outreach program. But often God works in other ways, through simple tasks or relational, one-on-one ministry. Sometimes we forget the amazing people who do so much behind the scenes. Janet Toornstra is one of those people.
Janet has been involved with single parents and their children for many years through FLWS. She came faithfully, every Wednesday, to help a single mom feed her disabled son, Chris. It was a big commitment, but it had such an effect on the family. And Janet does not even know.
Chris is an adult now (pictured above, with Janet), and does not often come to our meetings. Chris’ mom has also moved on, but in a way we never expected. Because of all the support she received over the many years, she is now just starting to attend West End Christian Reformed church services (after more than 15 years of nudging). We know she is struggling, and we know she is now very close to accepting Jesus as her Saviour. We are praying for her. We know it is in God’s hands and that He is caring for her. And it is people like Janet, with their love and little nudges, who helped to plant this seed.
We often think outreach is about helping people, in some physical sense – making pilas, cooking food, sending out flyers, building houses. And, although God commands us to take care of the poor and the needy, the real command is to spread God’s love and care to our neighbor. It’s a relational ministry that involves a lot of time and commitment.
So when I think of outreach, I think of people like Janet, who showed compassion and love to Chris and his mom, no matter how broken, desperate, poor, mixed up, and socially disadvantaged they were. I thank and praise God for Janet Toornstra and others like her.