Last evening I had the chance to spend sometime talking to recent 2011 Victoria city council candidate, social justice and homelessness activist Rose Henry. Rose Henry knows poverty, and addiction from personal and real life experience. She has her eyes and ears close to the street...She sees and hears what's happening beyond the margins of Victoria's inner city. But Rose, is also a leader, teacher and mentor. And one of the young people she has been mentoring is Thomas Morgan from Esquimalt Secondary School. As Rose says, " Thomas is a 15year old first nations youth who aspires to be apart of building a better community for all. " That's Rose and Thomas in the above picture.

Thomas is one of the organizers of 3,500 coats.org a group focused on collecting winter jackets mainly for kids on Victoria, and Vancouver Island. We don't necessarily see a lot of kids living on the inner city streets...it would be devastating tragedy if we did. But because we don't doesn't mean that increasing poverty is not a reality and effecting kids. This recent article from the Vancouver Sun ( BC. Moving in the Wrong Direction on Child Poverty: Report )...reveals the shocking reality that more "children " are apart of poverty.

Last year's the program " Coats for Kids " due unforeseen circumstances is unable to collect and distribute coats. So a group of concerned community members, unaffiliated with any charity or non-profit organization, are taking it upon themselves to fill this gap.
Please help us by making a donation of coats, gloves, hats, shoes, socks or any winter or watertproof gear. You can get details here as to where you can drop of clothing. 


                                                                        3500 COAT DRIVE

Christmas is fast approaching when Jesus was birthed into our neighbourhood to show us all what being human is all about...about taking care of the least of the least. Our future will only be as good as how well we take care of our children...not just mine, or yours...but everyone's. Let's make a difference this year for the kids living in poverty in Victoria.

                                                 You can follow the 3500 COAT DRIVE Facebook Page

 
 
t's time for our CARTS Annual General Meeting. Because our year runs from August to July, our AGM happens in the Fall.

Our AGM will happen on Friday, November 25 at 7 PM at the St. Barnabas Church Hall. St Barnabas Anglican Church is located on the corner of Belmont Ave. and Begbie St., by Stadacona Park. It is easily accessible by bus: Take a 27 or 28 bus to the top of Begbie St., or a 2, 11 or 14 to Oak Bay Junction and walk a block north on Belmont Ave.

Our AGM will contain all of the fun stuff you look forward to at an AGM...and more. I'm sure if you've been a part of CARTS for awhile you know, and if you're new...you sense it, where the Psalmist says " where deep calls to deep. And that is " community." And the AGM is part of that , it's a time to celebrate the past year...and a time to envision the coming year. It's time for conversation, a time to bring your questions. it's a time to bring ideas...it's time to get to know one another.

SO PLEASE COME EACH AND EVERY ONE IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF CARTS...like a beautiful collage each person brings their beauty to what CARTS is. SEE YOU THERE.
 
 
Occupy Victoria was handed their eviction notice today...their physical space might be gone, but lets hope they have awaked our conscience. These words are appropriate from Shane Claiborne...


"What an opportunity to create conversation! Jesus' own parable in Luke 12 is relevant to the entire effort. Why build bigger and bigger barns? Occupy Wall Street may not come up with solutions, but at least it is asking the right questions in a nonviolent setting. I don't believe that love can be forced, but I believe it can be provoked. I don't believe that generosity can be forced, but it can be provoked. Occupy Wall Street is provoking generosity."

"I'm hoping that Christians will see this as an opportunity to proclaim that God's heart is big enough for the 100 percent. It matters to God that some people are sagging with food while others need $3 for a mosquito net. It also matters to God that many of the oppressors are, in spite of their money, desperately lonely and suffering. God cares for both and can set both free. I believe we're building something new, proclaiming something else as possible. God wants to see us systemically dismantle disparity."
 
 
May God bless you with discomfort…
at easy answers, hard hearts,
half-truths, and superficial relationships.

May God bless you
so that you may live from deep within your heart
where God’s Spirit dwells.

May God bless you with anger…
at injustice, oppression,
and exploitation of people.

May God bless you so that you may
work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with tears…
to shed for those who suffer from pain,
rejection, starvation and war.

May God bless you so that you
may reach out your hand
to comfort them and turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with
enough foolishness
to believe that you can make a difference
in this world, in your neighborhood,
so that you will courageously try
what you don’t think you can do, but,
in Jesus Christ you’ll have all the strength necessary.

May God bless you to fearlessly
speak out about injustice,
unjust laws, corrupt politicians,
unjust and cruel treatment of prisoners,
and senseless wars,
genocides, starvations, and poverty that is so pervasive.

May God bless you that you remember
we are all called
to continue God’s redemptive work
of love and healing
in God’s place, in and through God’s name,
in God’s Spirit, continually creating
and breathing new life and grace
into everything and everyone we touch.

( translation by J.R. Woodward )


 
 
                                                                              (montage: J Fowler)

Teresa of Avila said, “Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours; yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion looks out on the world.”

While those words sound beautiful, many of us struggle with how to care for broken people. Compassion comes easily for people who are like us, but what about people on the margins of society. How can we be the hands and feet of Christ to people who are struggling in the downward spiral of poverty and isolation?                                                           
                                                                         
                                             Can you see the face of Jesus in the faces of those in need? 
                                                                    
Yet Jesus was very clear in his teaching that living faith out, somehow we don’t have the option not to care for the down and out.

The Good Samaritan crossed the road and was moved by compassion for the mugged man. He got involved by bandaging his wounds and then took him to the nearest rehab center and paid for his rehabilitation.

What we do for the least of these, Jesus said, is what we do for him. The list included providing food and clothing, looking after people in prison, caring for the sick and taking in strangers.

Compassionate care for the poor is central to the teaching of Scripture. Ultimately the power to overcome poverty lies in learning to live the Jesus way, to follow him in how he interacted with the poor and the marginalized, and to be willing—like Jesus, to lay down our self-centered, materialistic lives to take up the cross of loving generosity, gentle kindness, and tenacious advocacy for the rights of the poor and the oppressed.

The needs of the poor are often complicated. Generations of social castaways are plagued with inadequate education, dilapidated housing and few employable skills.

                                            What can we do find and serve the least of these?

Navigating the inner city streets of victoria since 2003 CARTS has seen many men and women who have become homeless in the city , and as we have visited the marginalized community of the inner city, We have discovered good news of the gospel unfold before us...in profound mystery Jesus comes alive...in our midst. We actually can, in very practical ways, find sustainable, manageable ways to make a difference in the lives of the poor.

Caring for the poor is something we do together. As individuals, as a community, we each have a role to play. The spirit stirs the waters of compassion within us to move in faith, to move love into action feeding and clothing the homeless, providing shelter, caring for the sick and ministering to those suffering. Each of us can plant our humble seed of faith, into nurturing friendships. More than anything poverty needs friendships.
    


 
 
It's hard to believe we're coming up to a year on our new route through the inner city of Victoria. We continue to humbly nurture this beautiful ministry...we act in faith, and God continues to faithfully provide. I'm blessed to be part of this inner city community.


And this from Fran Slofstra last evening...
"God does provide faithfully! We made 460 cookies last night! Praise God for volunteers to do so, the kitchen at PCS and the pounds and pounds of ingredients!! Awesome!"

There are so many things that happened behind the scenes that make CARTS happen on a Sunday. Many people we don't see, the faces behind the cookies...the faces, the laughter, the joy, the hands...the ingredients of " love " beyond the sugar, the chocolate chips, flour, smarties. 

The love of the volunteers permeates everything CARTS is...it's the fuel the powers, it's what embraces, it's what inspires, it fills, it feeds...it's what makes God visible.

In a sense, Sunday CARTS are a bit of " faith-filled " miracle. We are a small, local, organic and fluid community...with a shoe string budget. Some weeks the shoe string is shorter than others. But, much like the parable of the few loaves and fish we faithfully put it all in the hands of Jesus and he always seems to multiply what little we have. 


Thanks...to everyone, seen and unseen...your love is felt every week.