FOR YEARS, Bethany CRC in Fenwick, Ontario, was engaged in global missions work. Yet each time their teams returned, they wondered what missions might look like in their own backyard. The church had a huge heart for youth and was already running a summer kids camp. After much discussion and prayer, a group from the church started canvassing in various neighbourhoods in the nearby city of Welland, inviting children to come out to a free Saturday afternoon program held in a downtown church. The group put their first bus on the road and picked the kids up. The small group of children who attended those first few weeks basked in the love and attention they received and soon word spread throughout Welland. Rose City Kids (RCK) was born!
“In the beginning, we were literally running the ministry with our volunteers’ own pocket change!” shared Sonya Wierenga, Executive Director of RCK. “When you start a Christian ministry in a community, there’s not a lot of people that buy into it initially. Most donors or grant organizations want to see you have been around for a few years; they want to see success stories and you don’t always have those.”
As their volunteer base grew, so did their Saturday program. Numbers doubled, then tripled and eventually the driving team knew they needed more support and funding. In 2009, the group heard about Operation Manna (OM) and after several conversations, RCK applied and received a grant for $10,000!
“That was very encouraging,” Wierenga recalls. “The OM funding gave our team incredible encouragement to keep going. We kept seeing God at work and [this partnership] came in at a critical time.”
As some may recall, OM started as a food and aid program in Korea, led by World Renew in the 1960’s. Over the years, the recipients of the annual OM offering began to vary and money was used to fund more local ministry in Canada, like RCK. When Diaconal Ministries Canada was officially formed in 2001, it took over the program from World Renew. To better reflect the mission and mandate of the program, and to increase its impact, Operation Manna became NewGround in 2018. Today NewGround continues to help churches grow God’s Kingdom in new and exciting ways through community ministries and partnerships.
“From starting with a Saturday kids program 14 years ago, to now offering a variety of free and accessible programs to kids and families in our community all week long, we are grateful for the role OM/NewGround played all those years ago,” says Wierenga. “Children who come from really dark places are continuing to find Jesus as their Saviour and are desiring to live for Him!”
Wierenga is grateful to programs like NewGround that give new ministries like RCK a chance and support them so that they can be around for years to come. To find out more about NewGround, visit: diaconalministries.com/newground.
This page is made possible through a partnership with CRC Ministries within Canada