Family Christian Centre in Fort McMurray, Alta., is steered by a vision that includes “portraying God’s heart for people by providing practical support for families and individuals.”
The first step in providing practical support to others is to know the needs of others. When Rev. Edwin Rideout moved to Fort McMurray in August 2008 to become the lead pastor at Family Christian Centre, one of the first things he did was investigate the social needs of the Wood Buffalo area.
In a meeting with the mayor, Edwin asked: “When considering the unique role of the church in Fort McMurray, and having a good understanding of the great works already being accomplished by many of our community-minded churches, what would you say is an area of concern the Family Christian Centre should focus upon?”
Without hesitation, Mayor Blake responded: “There continues to be a tremendous need for counselling, especially in the areas of family/relational dynamics and addictions.”
Over the next few months, Edwin’s research confirmed what the mayor had described. Leadership at Family Christian Centre prayerfully formulated a vision of a new mission for the church: establishing a counselling centre to serve Wood Buffalo. The main obstacle, however, was the enormous cost.
Over the next few years, God miraculously provided the funds, the facility and the staff for the Legacy Counselling Centre (LCC) to open its doors in January 2015.
“The LCC is comprised of a team of highly skilled, gifted individuals who have an anointing upon them to bring counsel to people’s lives. Our counselling centre is a Christian counselling centre. We have hired a team of people who know Jesus Christ personally and share the hurts and the wounds and the brokenness of people from that context,” Edwin shared with the congregation in his 2020 mission and vision message.
While the LCC is a Christian centre and the vast majority of its clients are open to counselling from a biblical perspective, the centre also welcomes those who are not. In this way, through the LCC, the church has gained a strong missional presence in the community.
“We’ve been able to touch hundreds of lives. There are numerous testimonies of people whose lives have been transformed, families that have been healed, individuals who have had their thinking recalibrated and have went on to be healthy, productive citizens,” Edwin said in his message. In some cases, lives have literally been saved as dozens of suicides have been averted.
Since the LCC opened in 2015, God has continued to provide and the ministry has continued to grow. The counselling centre now has five full-time counsellors and one contracted counsellor providing hundreds of hours of counselling to individuals. The majority of these individuals are unchurched youth, children and adults.
“Two years ago, in recognition of our services, the municipality of Wood Buffalo invited me to share our story. The result of that was a multi-year commitment of $320,000 from Council; we just signed the contract for year three. A car dealership has been funding us consistently in excess of $300,000 annually. United Way has consistently provided $100,000 annually. I approached the Assistant Deputy Minister of Mental Health and Addictions during COVID and they provided us $100,000 during 2020 and $100,000 during 2021,” Edwin says.
“We’ve gone from a budget of $0 when we launched in 2014 to nearly $1M in 2022. This is a miracle story!”
Photo on the home page by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash.
Photo above courtesy of Edwin Rideout.