Michelle Chan is the Communications & LiveWire Coordinator at Tenth Church. Here, she shares a poetic reflection on how God led her to open up her little townhouse (which she named Fort) to friends and strangers alike in a gutsy, counterculture move to love strangers and display Christ’s light:
The almost stink of sun-roasted seagrass. The trampoline dollop of wave.
These sensations framed my afternoon of reading on the Caribbean beach. I was drowning in an attempt to digest knowledge amidst paradise when the Spirit shouted to me, "L’Abri" .
L’Abri (The Shelter) is Francis and Edith Schaeffer's community for people with life-questions and God-questions. At first, I felt as if I was simply looking at the words on the page. Then slowly and all at once, Jesus became an art gallery guide, sweeping me away to a house tour of a L’Abri iteration for the postmodern city context.
Jesus showed me three scenes:
A blank, empty-of-physical-items-yet-full-of-peace room.
A collection-of-musical-instruments-from-every-corner-of-the-globe room, complete with locals seeking intimate time to bask in His presence.
A transient books, shelves, and sleepover guest room, hosting friends, and strangers from a smattering of countries.
This abstract vision eventually spat me back on our Pacific sand, to my home. My home is now called Fort in homage to the Schaeffers. "Fort" references "strong" as its French definition and also abbreviates the hymn, A Mighty Fortress is Our God.
Fort creates a safe place in three ways, inspired by Jesus’ three scenes:
Once a month, Fort rests silent from noise and technology, providing 12 hours of drop-in, a Be Still event.
Also once a month, Fortnight brings a couple dozen folk together to pray, and sing praise.
Completing the three-fold mission, the last half year was blessed with 101 people (including repeats) surfing Fort’s couch.
Fort has become a physical safe place to visitors with recently deceased loved ones, visitors with mental illness, visitors with identity crises, visitors facing job loss, and visitors in emotional season transition. Jesus has become a spiritual safe place to visitors who sense deep peace, visitors with new courage to ask for professional counselling, and visitors who learn that God is real, and has truly moved into the neighbourhood.
If we have a roof over our heads, we have an opportunity to offer hospitality, and to counter culture with a love for foreigners. Unlocking my door has opened my heart. This adventure has been a blessing that I hope you’ll consider receiving, too.
Here’s a poem to send you on your way, penned after God invited me to root myself in Vancouver:
build a fort, he said
painting my head
bright blue sea dream
light white clean slate
clear pinewood ponder space
a safe place to why
to sun theories dry
divided by vague wire mesh shelves
ideas dug deeper than wells,
grown higher than walls, create
shelves of limbo twist,
of books hugging books hugging books hugging books
a place for soul stir
a place for life cook
room to encounter nooks
to lie in truth
grace notes without borders
roots in each line, each space on the map
grace, hope for boarders
build a fort, water the gap
Michelle received her Commerce degree with a major in eating, sleeping, and travelling—the food, hospitality, and tourism industries. She may be found on a mountain peak, in a glacial lake or underwater playing hockey.