A window into Act Five, Year 3

Perhaps I will say this every year of Act Five, but this is a unique year for us.

11 students – 9 women and 2 men – making a leap to take a gap year and live in a big community home after 1.5 years of losing their whole sense of normal.
Re-establishing a program that travels and visits and shares meals and hosts events in the murky waters of this almost-but-not-quite-yet-done-Covid world.
All of us – staff and students and visitors alike – coming up for air not totally certain of the aftermath from the past 1.5 years.

In the midst of the particular features of this year’s community and program, I rest in what I keep noticing no matter who is among us or what program decisions we make – God is the same, He is really really good, and He is doing awesome things at Act Five.

After our first two months of our program, I have witnessed our students and staff head off on their 10-day canoe trip that included 6 straight days of rain and no sun, only to now speak of the canoe trip as this amazing highlight where they grew so much. We have taken two trips to Russet House Farm to learn from Brian & Sylvia the story of scripture in new ways while traipsing through the forest, sharing meals around a fire or picking peppers before the frost comes.

Students are getting to know Hamilton and meeting God here, as seems to happen every year. They are learning and growing in so many directions at once as they volunteer for places like Indwell, share meals with newcomers to Canada, learn to cook for a crowd (and then do dishes for that same crowd), walk through reading material and sessions that challenge them to grow in who they are in Christ, complete a Blanket Exercise that invites them to consider their place in the indigenous story of Canada, and so much more.

Community, learning, worship, morning prayer, walking the Wentworth stairs, times of play and adventure, hikes, road trips, birthdays and so much good food. Whenever you step back, you get this view that states quite clearly,
“Wow, God is with us and He is doin’ His thing here.”

One significant piece of Year 3 of Act Five that has been beautiful to witness has been the initiation of Spaghetti Wednesdays, an idea taken from a previous community of prayer and mission in this city and adopted at 75 Blake St. Every Wednesday, our students and staff host a big meal in our backyard, where next door neighbours, refugees, alumni, family and friends show up to gather around the table together. When I walk into this space, seeing all those around a table – and seeing our students learn to share a table with others in new ways – I am flooded with a sense of God’s presence among us.
*We have no photos of Spaghetti Wednesday yet and will write more of this in a future post.

We continue to walk with our students as they have moments of feeling a lot of things – from inspiration to being a bit overwhelmed, from awesome times of joy to feelings of sadness as they process hard things. We are learning some big ideas and experiencing a lot of new things while also preparing for upcoming placements and capstone projects for second term. Additionally, we are excited to announce that we are prepping for a 3-week trip to South Texas with World Renew this upcoming January! This will be our first international trip in almost 2 years.

For those following along with us, I invite you to pray:

  1. Coming out of the isolation of the pandemic into an intentional community is beautiful but hard at times. Pray that we will be protected as a community, that we will continue to grow together, encourage each other, and root ourselves in Christ.
  2. As we engage in travel again this upcoming term, pray for us! That we will navigate unique logistics around Covid-19, that students will meet their fundraising goals, and that we will honour well those who host us.
  3. Pray for our final 4 weeks of this term’s program as we travel to Manitoulin Island to engage with indigenous communities, do a deep dive into the gospels for a week, continue to plan for second term, and have our students tell their stories of becoming part of this place.

Thank you for joining us in this journey.
It is a gift to be part of what God is doing here.

Jon Berends

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