CityReach Care Society is a not-for-profit organization launched out of Broadway Church in 2004 to meet the needs that were becoming evident in the community. Simon Gau, CityReach’s executive director, is excited about what God is doing to open doors for people to be served in practical ways and wants to encourage others to do the same.
“A few years ago, we wanted to make a greater impact to serve the needs of our community and partner with our city, but we weren’t quite sure where to begin. So we started something called the Adopt-a-School Program. The plan was to go into local public schools and adopt them by offering them practical help. I went from school to school to ask them how we could serve them, and unfortunately, very few principals wanted to receive any help at all from us. I don’t know if you know anything about the current culture or climate of the public school system, but they historically have not been very welcoming in wanting to work with Christian organizations, including local churches. I felt defeated, so we decided that if a school would ever come to us with a request, we would just say YES, and then figure out how we could meet that need.
Finally, it happened! We got a call from a school that we had been trying to connect with and they said, “We’re not sure if you do this kind of thing, but we have a family that is in need. A single mom’s car broke down and the student needs a monthly bus pass to get to school.” So, I said, “YES! We do that kind of thing!” and we got that student a bus pass.
A few weeks later, we got another call from a school. “We’re not sure if you do this kind of thing, but we have a student who is having accidents at school and needs some diapers and some changes of clothes.” I said, “YES! We do that kind of thing!” and we went out and bought some diapers and some changes of clothes.
A few months later I got a call from a school: “We’re not sure if you do this kind of thing, but we have a student that needs a special wheelchair for school to access different parts of the building.” I said, “YES! We do that kind of thing!” and we bought a wheelchair for that student.
I remember thinking: “A bus pass, diapers, and a wheelchair … we have effectively only impacted three families. Is this worth it? God, are you in this? Are we making any greater impact?” If it was all just for three families that would have been great, but we had way bigger hopes.
Then I received a call from a school principal who wanted to set up a meeting. They invited me into their office, shut the door, and drew the blinds. I was literally sitting in the principal’s office. It felt like middle school all over again, like I was about to get into big trouble. The principal turned to me and said, “Simon, can you pray for me?”
So, there I was in a public school in Vancouver, PRAYING FOR A PRINCIPAL who had a drastically different worldview than me. That is the moment when I realized that a bus pass, diapers, and a wheelchair had impacted a lot more than just three families! What started with knocking on a few doors and just saying YES to practically serving the needs of a few families has turned into something incredible.
This past year, our Adopt-a-School Program has grown so much that we are now working with 45 partner schools throughout Vancouver, Surrey, and the Tri-Cities. We have increased the practical help we can offer schools to include things like fresh food hampers, Christmas gifts, backpacks, hygiene kits, care packages, gift cards, and scholarships.
Be encouraged as you read this today that saying YES to serving the practical needs of those around you is closer to the heartbeat of Jesus than you may realize. God has called his people to be his hands and feet—to go into hard places and bring his peace and presence. If you see a need, or someone asks you for help, just say, “YES! I do that kind of thing.”
Are you dreaming of doing something? Do it.
Will it be hard? Yes. But anything worthwhile is.
Don’t think it’s possible? Good. Your dream is big enough for God to use.
Don’t know where to start? Start with where God’s has placed you, and start with what he’s placed in your hands.
Are you alone? Start to build a team around you. Nothing of significance has ever happened alone.
Need inspiration? Pray and ask the Holy Spirit what He’s already doing and simply join in.”
Simon Gau is CityReach’s executive director and associate pastor at Broadway Church in Vancouver.
Photo on home page: From left to right – Darin Latham (lead pastor of Broadway Church), Lewis Chifan (Vancouver campus pastor, associate pastor of operations and Next Generation director) and Paul Moores (Church Life director), packing fresh food hampers to distribute to CityReach’s Adopt-a-School partners.
Photo at top of page: Simon Gau welcoming a guest at the Broadway Church Campus in Surrey, B.C.
Photo above: Simon Gau and co-worker Suzie Javidan serving at CityReach’s Food Bank, Food For Families, just down the hill from Broadway Church.
Photos courtesy Simon Gau.