This past Wednesday, Philip Lee, a missionary to the First Nations people of the Saddle Lake reserve, visited our morning prayer group. He described his exciting, often exhausting, and always challenging work on the reserve. His sharing was fascinating, and it may just be possible that his story will continue to intersect with Bethel’s story in the future.
Philip began by doing youth ministry on the reserve. Then he started applying for jobs that would allow him to support himself financially. When the St. Paul Abilities Network, a nonprofit organization serving people with disabilities, discovered that he had a background in the hotel industry, he was hired to arrange for a Hampton Hilton to be built in the town. He was eventually promoted to his current role as the agency's director of business development, overseeing seven companies that help bring in revenue for the agency.
In Philip’s eyes, His job promotion was God’s appointment. It created a unique platform for ministry. Through his hiring practices, Philip has helped to bring about reconciliation between the reserve and the town that was once home to a residential school. The city’s residents have witnessed the hard work of the company’s many native employees, and the Native Canadian employees have learned that they can be accepted in a town where they have historically felt disrespected.
We were encouraged when Philip shared stories of God’s powerful work on the Saddle Lake Reserve and saddened to hear of problems—eight people died of drug and alcohol related deaths in a recent ten day period. At the end of his sharing, the members of the prayer group prayed earnestly for Philip with laying on of hands.
We have asked Philip to help us as a church. Recently our church was asked by our Classis (regional group of churches) to host an evening to build on the work started by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the past several years. Philip will be joining the committee tasked to figure out what such an evening might look like for Bethel, if we were to do it. Philip needs churches who will come alongside him in prayer. So perhaps Philip and Bethel will be able to mutually bless each other as we go into the future.
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