While in some ways we would want things to move a little faster, we are very grateful for the cautious pace that things are going. Vivian and I have been looking for a home church and hope that we have found one. We have never wanted to ‘fly solo’ so to speak, but be submitted to a local body of believers who want an effective outreach into the indigenous community. Please pray for us as we continue our search and the upcoming promising developments. Once we are established under a home church body, we want to continue our inner city ministry presence by partnering with an established inner city ministry. Here again, there have been some promising developments and we ask that you pray for us that our search would be fruitful.
As far as ministry goes, I (Nick) have been continuing to have Tuesday night Men’s Discipleship which we call Brothers In the Hood. We are currently in the third year of a three year discipleship program, and this is going very well. In addition, I continue to post Journey Through the Bible readings daily. There are also a few men with whom I regularly connect with online in BC, Manitoba and Ontario sharing encouragement, prayer and biblical instruction.
For now, Vivian leads our outreach ministry to single, Indigenous, Christian men helping with domestic life skills such as shopping, accessing various community resources such as low income housing, various charitable non-Government Organizations, advocacy and other things that require her to be ‘out and about’ almost daily. I help out as much as I can in this ministry.
There are a number of barriers that single male parents face that single female parents do not and this is because social helps and welfare systems are heavily tilted in favor of women. Please understand that Vivian and I are NOT saying that those helps should not exist and we are NOT saying that women should not have help designed specifically for them and their unique needs and challenges. It has been our experience that there is not enough support and help for vulnerable male parents and their unique needs and challenges. This creates barriers that are unique to them that they need help to overcome. Because they are men, there is a paradigm that suggests there are things that they should just ‘know’ or be able to figure out. There is a chauvinistic view that men are more capable than women to be able to do things for themselves where women need help. There are also prejudicial views that suggest that men should not be parents and that a man cannot or should not be allowed to raise a daughter by himself. And then there are also the prejudices, bigotry and biases that Indigenous men face because they are indigenous or because they have been incarcerated.
For example, a young man we know and have ministered to for years, used to be incarcerated and as a young adult was involved in street gangs and drugs. He has a grade school son and daughter whose mother is still involved in crime, and addictions and multiple partners and relationships as well as being very transient. He has accessed low income housing and set up a stable home. Some of our ministry to him has included teaching him how to budget – how to make a nutritious shopping list and find out where to buy those items at the lowest price. How to apply for the child tax benefit – this involved a fight with the mother several times due to agencies awarding her the child tax benefit without investigating the different situations of the parents. The mom would go to Calgary or some other city, set herself up a home and then apply for the benefit sometimes without even having the kids in her care! We helped this man file the proper forms to the proper agencies, gain credibility with other advocates to mitigate this risk. Filing income tax, making a resume, buying clothes, getting a lawyer, discussing family and home routines, discipline and biblical modeling, and of course, driving to all the various agencies that those things involve. Also daily challenges like getting a vehicle, helping when the vehicle breaks down, getting rid of roaches and bed bugs, what to do when first aid of the children is required. School has been a challenge, but we hope they are now both enrolled in a program that suits their needs. He has made the comment that we are more of parents to him than his parents are. (His parents are themselves involved in the street life and so are very unhealthy influences on him and the children.) He works where and when he can, but quite often it is very difficult to find and keep a job due to his past, as well as all the daily challenges he faces. He is, however, very determined and persistent. He also dearly loves his children and wants to provide for them a good foundation so they do not fall into the life that he escaped. It is truly a privilege to walk with this young man through all of this.
The sad reality is that there are at least a hundred like him who, not having the supports that they need, continue to fall back into despair, into drugs, into crime and so the children continue to suffer.
Praise & Prayer
We praise God for providing a good and suitable vehicle when all we had prayed for was to be able to keep our vehicles going.
Vivian’s brother Bernard Shepherd continues to battle myeloma Cancer (cancer of the blood plasma cells). Myeloma affects your body’s immune system, leaving it susceptible to infection. He needs a lot of prayer for this – for healing, but also for his family, his wife, children and grandchildren.
We praise God that we continue to be called upon by Whitebear First Nation as well as people within the inner city to minister in various ways such as funerals, distribution of care packages for the elders and so forth. It is truly a beautiful and privileged place God has prepared for us to serve.
Thank you to all of our faithful supporters and friends in the ministry. We look forward to continue serving North Central Regina and the Indigenous community for many more years should the Lord tarry.
Thank you, and God Bless,
Nick & Vivian Helliwell