New seed planted on Appleby Drive


Servant Partners Canada is now accepting applications

for our Community Transformation Certificate Winter 2022 Cohort!

In the upcoming weeks we spotlight our previous participants’ journeys and seed projects created alongside the marginalized in their own communities.

 

This past September, I was invited to do the Community Transformation Certificate with Servant Partners while living in the neighbourhood with the Saskatoon site. With somewhat cringeworthy positivity, I was excited to learn about community transformation and see restoration and justice in the lives of my neighbours.


I said an eager yes to the invitation. I believed that this was the beginning of something big in myself – a small seed planted in the ground.


In October, I moved into an apartment on Appleby Drive.


I moved here to meet my neighbours and catalyze change in the community through their expertise and partnership. I moved here to see Jesus in unexpected faces. I was ready to be changed in the process, enamoured with teachings about mutual transformation and local partnership in community work efforts.


There’s something I forgot about being a seed in the ground… it’s dark. It’s cold. You don’t know which way is up and which is down. You wonder if there are other seeds around you, and fear you are alone. When will be the right time to sprout? Was I planted here on purpose by a tender gardener, or was I just pooped out by an unknowing deer?


These doubts started creeping in when I experienced yelling that shook my walls, when I met a neighbour who seemed creepy to me, when my PreK student threatened a stuffed moose with a plastic toy kitchen knife… my desire to meet my neighbours dwindled. Maybe Jesus can’t be found in these faces. What if I meet more like them? How can I trust the neighbours I meet? What do I think I’m doing, moving to Appleby alone and seeking its welfare? Why was I so convinced that this would bring richness and beauty to my life? What if Jesus is calling me into this lifestyle long-term and it’s always this dark and hard and uncomfortable? How do I opt-out!? I felt lost. Scared. Alone.


After a month living in Appleby, I wanted to leave.


Weeks pass and I meet a young woman my age. She had just moved to Appleby in September from Afghanistan, having to learn the culture and the language at the same time. We went for a walk, laughing about how she’ll need boots soon instead of high heel sandals and touring the area’s many green spaces. On the first snow day of the season, I invited her to play outside with my 11-year-old brother and I. Shrieks of delight and fragments of sentences bounced off the brick walls around us as we threw snow at each other, rolled massive snowballs, and drew pictures on the fresh white canvas. I was thrilled to share my love of winter with her, and she extended so much enthusiasm to try new things! Over tea later that week, she told me: “You are my first friend in Saskatoon”. I told her that her friendship was an answer to prayer for me. Uprooted from a garden where she was at risk of being trampled, she radiated kindness and optimism in her transplanted home, a beacon of hope against the odds.


As my hope for friendship and partnership grew, my eyes opened to incredible hope stirring in my community. Spread around my living room, eating popcorn, sharing pictures of pets, the young ladies in my building began constructing a network of trust and support with each other. I joined a game of volleyball with the displaced Karen people from Myanmar, thriving in Saskatoon despite the Burmese government’s efforts to erase their culture and language for over 50 years. At work, a kindergarten student who lives at Appleby seeks me out every day to offer a toothless: “HELLO NEIGHBOUR!” and wrap her arms around my waist.


And then it happened.


I saw Jesus in these faces.


God is here. He is growing a gorgeously messy garden in Appleby.


Somewhere along the road, as I have ached for wholeness and healing alongside my new friends, Appleby Drive has become my neighbourhood. I feel myself coming alongside my neighbours in a powerful way. Not in my own ability to alleviate the brokenness or to simply swap pain for joy, but in mourning and lamenting alongside them in some small, incomplete way, in begging God to make things right here, in praying for his kingdom to come: “where nothing is broken, and no one is missing.” I know God had shed many tears for this place before I ever have. It has – slowly, surprisingly, beautifully – started to feel like my home, a place where I might just belong too.


And as winter sets in, the seed is covered in a blanket of insulation, knowing that its roots must first grow deep and wide, preparing it for the cold prairie winds, strengthening it to face the scorching prairie sun, until the day when it will sprout through the mud, adding its unique shine to the beauty-in-the-making all around.


 
Are you also someone who also desires to seek God’s shalom and transformation alongside marginalized neighbours in your city? Looking for a community for hands-on learning and support for your desire for justice? We invite you to check out our 12-week Community Transformation Certificate program and join us in listening to the strengths and groanings of your neighbours and co-create a seed project in response - right where God has you, here and now. Applications for the Winter Cohort are due January 15th.

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