My name is Mia, and I attend Tenth’s second service at Mount Pleasant. Patrick asked me to write about how I’ve gotten involved in Tenth’s missions community, so here goes.
A bit about me, I’m a Business and Political Science grad from UBC, with a specialization in entrepreneurship. For the past year or so, I’ve been working two jobs - that millennial life tho - and have been looking for ways to get involved in my community. I figure, I may not have much in terms of disposable income, but I do have a bit of time I can give, especially to causes dear to my heart.
So, first barrier down. I want to get involved.
But then I reached a stumbling block. How do I make that happen?
I’ve been attending Tenth for about three years, and have been part of a small group for just as long. It’s been a wonderful way to connect with other Christians my age, and walk life together. One of the things we do as a small group during the summer months is volunteer with partner church of Tenth - First Christian Reform Church. They host an arts and crafts nights for refugee kids every Thursday. Those Thursday nights were some of the best nights of my summer, and I really cherished my time there.
But as is common with a group of 10+, it’s hard to keep anything going when the regular school year starts and everyone’s back to work. We had some ideas to volunteer over Christmas, but they fell through as everyone’s holiday plans took over. A little disheartened, I’d settled on waiting ‘till summer to volunteer again. Then a little lightbulb went off and told me, ‘Mia, you’re a grown woman. Why are you waiting for everyone else? Put on your big girl pants and go out there and volunteer on your own.’
I set off, feeling confident and empowered, until I hit the next stumbling block.
Where do I volunteer?
Thursday nights I have small group, so the refugee program at First Christian Reformed Church wouldn’t work. There are so many soup kitchens helping the homeless downtown, I didn’t even know where to start knocking on doors. And I’ve kind of been wanting to do something with vulnerable women and girls, but have no idea what that would look like or who to reach out to.
Fortunately for me, God’s been very keen to show me how I can get involved. That next Sunday, pamphlets were distributed to show how Tenth is doing missions locally and globally. Talk about a sign.
With nothing else I could think of to hold me back, I emailed missions@tenth, saying ‘these are my skills, this is where my heart’s at, use me.’
The first time I came to Tenth, I was invited to CREO by a college friend of mine. I’d just moved out to Vancouver, and hadn’t yet found a church to call my own. That first night I went to CREO, Catlin talked about an upcoming missions trip to Cambodia, and how they were looking for people to go. The rest, shall we say, is history.
That missions trip to Cambodia changed my life. I don’t mean to sound flippant - it honestly did.
The poverty, the exploitation, the wounds from genocide, these were things I witnessed, and things I took home with me. The culture shock I experience in Cambodia was pretty bad, but the reverse-culture shock when I came home was worse. I started spiralling pretty hard, not knowing how I could continue with the way I’d lived my life after seeing the things I’d seen. The only thing I can say is thank the Lord for the debrief sessions we had post-missions trip. Rather than internalizing all the pain and trauma I’d seen, I was able to process it and grow emotional maturity from it, turning it into a strength. Ever since that trip, my heart has been hurting for victims of human trafficking, for people living in that level of poverty, for children growing up with parents who’d been victims of a horrific civil war.
But what can I do about all that here in Canada? I have no training to deal with trauma, no skills in social work or rehabilitation. I have a business degree and an anger against injustice. What can I do with that?
Enough, it turns out.
My email to missions@tenth put me in touch with Patrick.
I went in hoping to get an introduction to a women’s shelter or a refugee program where I could volunteer a few nights a week. I left the meeting tasked with helping Patrick come up with a strategic plan for how to best leverage and maximize Tenth’s impact locally and abroad, and how we can maintain and strengthen our relationship with our partners in Cambodia. Patrick pushed me to use more than just my time, but to use my business degree in ways I never thought could be possible to make an impact in my community.
All I needed was a push. I had so many reasons why now wasn’t a good time to start volunteering, that it’s taken me three years after coming back from Cambodia to get involved in missions again. Three years of being aware of the need in my community, aware of the suffering in Cambodia, and of coming up with excuses and obstacles that prevented me from action. Not anymore. I won’t keep sitting this out.
Like Hozier sings, ‘It’s not the waking it’s the rising.’
What’s keeping you from rising?
Pictures above from 2015 Cambodia Missions Team - There’s me on the bottom right, in the red sweater.
PS Tenth will be going back to Cambodia this summer with CREO (young people) to serve mostly with Alongsiders at Shalom Valley. Would you keep our CREO people in mind as they prepare themselves for this Justice Journey. There will be a few ways to support them; prayer, purchasing items for sale, attending a creative night, financial support. Stay tuned.....