As I was reading the news one morning about the Vegas shooting, I couldn’t help but imagine how terrifying it must have been. It will always be a reminder of the horrors of a world defiled by sin.
While it is easy to see God’s goodness when it is evident, it is quite hard to see Him in horrifying times. But because He loves us, His grace is always revealed—just as He led my mind once again to remember His goodness and protection to His people, a year ago, to our church and even to my family.
The second Sunday of the month has always been a special day for Blessed Hope Church. It is a time for regular feeding in Downtown Toronto. From 7:30 in the morning, we go to three different shelters and distribute bags containing a sandwich, banana, and bottled water. Bibles and leaflets are also available for distribution. It is a day on which God’s people regularly gather to share food, face to face, with the needy ones, talking to them and even praying for them. It is always an experience I’m grateful to be part of.
The Sabbath before the second Sunday is the preparation day for the community service. This is when we prepare everything we need for the next day. It is always pleasant to see our brothers and sisters sitting at a long table and working on even in a simple task, making sure that we’re ready for the community service.
However, Jan. 7, 2017, the first Sabbath of the year, was different. There was no long table; none of our brothers and sisters or the children sat around it; there was no bread, no cheese, no banana, no bottled water. No one had remembered! Not even then-head-elder Boyet Javier, community services director Glenda Ramos, or Pastor Ruel Malabrigo. No one had remembered to prepare, because no one realized that the following day was the second Sunday. Somehow we got confused about the days—not sure how, though.
Then, Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, sad news broke in. A man had been shot in the chest that Sunday near Queen East and Sherbourne Streets in Downtown Toronto at 7:45 a.m.—on those same busy streets where we, young and old, gather, talk, and distribute food to people. That man was taken to St. Michael’s Hospital later, where he was pronounced dead.
As I ponder God’s goodness, I am once again reminded of how He takes control of everything. Who would have thought that Blessed Hope leaders could forget that Sunday slotted for its community service? But all did! The world may call it negligence, but in this case, I see it as grace. It is amazing when God provides us protection in an unexpected way.
My heart cries out to the man who lost his life in Downtown Toronto and to the people who were victims of the shooting in Las Vegas. But just like Jeremiah, who was puzzled by the results of evil and suffering in the world, I was reminded that we are loved. “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22–24).
And because He loves us, we should be on fire to reach more people and minister to their needs. I am always amazed to see my church family committed to do community work, but now am even more amazed that God has called us to share the hope that is within us. It is the only message that can cure a dying world.
When we hold this in our hearts, getting up on early cold and chilly Sunday morning to head to Downtown Toronto would be more of a pleasure than a sacrifice.