their character and actions, says
Josiah Atkins, ministry program
co-ordinator for the centre. A
teacher’s assistant also works at the
centre part-time, and that’s helped
establish trust with families. “If
you look at the big picture, these
small moments can turn into big
moments,” says Atkins.
Staff also help with community
events such as Aboriginal Days and
the Terry Fox Run. Last June they
participated in the nearby Stikine
Valley Gospel Music Festival.
Performers included country
singer Paul Brandt, a long-time
Samaritan’s Purse supporter. Most
importantly, they’re good neighbours, says Nanninga. They shovel
snow. They host people for dinner.
“It’s not like I’m bringing the
gospel,” says Atkins. “The gospel
is already here and Christ is
already at work.” –mEagaN gIllmoRE
WHEN MAN Y CANAdIANS think
of Samaritan’s Purse (www.
samaritanspurse.ca), the Calgary-based Christian relief and
development organization, they
imagine children in developing
countries receiving shoeboxes
from Operation Christmas Child
– not children in Northern B.C.
playing foosball after school in
an old restaurant.
But that’s what staff at the
newly opened Samaritan’s Purse
Ministry Centre do most
weeknights in Dease Lake, a
community of roughly 400
people 19 hours north of
Vancouver, 250 kilometres south
of the B.C.-Yukon border.
Franklin Graham visited the
community in 2011. Graham
stopped at a restaurant and saw
the needs for youth in the
community, says Larry Nanninga,
general manager of the centre.
The restaurant closed and
Samaritan’s Purse purchased the
building in the spring of 2013.
Nanninga and his wife Trixie
arrived a few months later.
Youth have few recreational
options besides school and an
outdoor hockey rink that is
sometimes unusable, with winter
temperatures dropping below
- 40°C. At the centre youth can
play ping-pong or video games,
make crafts, build with Lego or
spend time with friends.
Twenty-five youth have been
attending on average.
“The one thing that has doors
just opening up is in the area with
the youth and with the kids,” says
Nanninga. Establishing a faithful
presence is crucial, say the staff.
Many community residents
belong to the Tahltan First Nation
and have had negative experiences with Christian organizations. Some survived neglect and
abuse at residential schools.
Staff want to show Jesus’ love in
Samaritan’s Purse breaks ground in northern B.C.
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Performers at the Stikine Valley Gospel Music Festival included country singer Paul Brandt, a long-time Samaritan’s Purse supporter.