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Valerie Penney /Monday, November 22, 2021

 

I knew a First Nations community was only a few kilometres from my home, but I didn’t give it much thought until I took Kairos in 2013.

One of the things God impressed on me was to consider my First Nations neighbour, the Mississaugas of Scugog Island (ON). I learned they were a small nation of just over 100 members that shared their wealth from the Blue Heron Casino with our community, and that the chief at that time was a city lawyer.

Beyond some general prayers, I was stalled in my sharing of Jesus with them, so you can imagine my surprise eight years later to find myself mobilizing leaders for ministry among First Nations.

In Newfoundland

Simply Mobilizing, and Kairos in particular, has been slow to enter the Newfoundland context.

We (if I can say 'we' being a bonified CFA: ‘Come from Away’ newcomer) are deeply hospitable and generous people with a strong cultural connection to our roots. Change doesn’t come quickly, as is the case for most tight-knit cultures.

Since 2019, a couple dozen Newfoundland and Labradoreans have embarked on their Kairos journey. God has raised up several facilitators, a new head facilitator and an Interface mobilizer…but God is also moving us toward an unreached people group in our own province.

One of our Simply Mobilizing paradigms is that the mission of God is holistic, encompassing reaching the unreached, saving the unsaved in reached groups and living as fully-devoted followers of Jesus in our own communities. So, it was natural to assume that our task was to partner with local churches to reach the unreached coming to NL, engage the unsaved and in the process, be Christ incarnated in our communities.

It simply was not on my radar that God is still pursuing our First Nations…until Pastor Anna.

The Big Land

Anna is our first Newfoundland and Labrador Kairos head facilitator and a pastor in Labrador. A year ago, Anna made the difficult decision not to return to overseas ministry to a new assignment among a least-reached nation.

Through that painful decision to remain in Canada after an extended home assignment, she began to realize the plan of God. She had been strategically placed by God in the Big Land (as Labrador is called) to both serve the local church and mobilize believers to reach the unreached Innu and Inuit in new and impactful ways.

After Anna shared her vision with me, I asked the Lord to allow me to meet an Innu. Within a month, I had two new Innu friends - Jonathan, an artist relocated to St. John’s, and Marta, a 17-year-old wanting to start a house church in Sheshatshiu. (*names have been changed)

They graciously provided a tiny glimpse into their lives. I was beginning to catch the vision, one that God had highlighted years earlier.

A New Chapter

With several Labrador pastors now in an online Kairos course, I believe this new chapter in the story is just beginning. It was in the historical section of the course last month, that I realized we are not the first to follow God’s call to Labrador. God has been working in various ways throughout Labrador over the years which included the work of Moravians whose contribution to mission is highlighted in the Kairos course. Is it any wonder then that God continues to pull our hearts there?

Would you join with me in praying for our First Nations communities across Canada? Ask Him what your role is in inviting them to join God’s wonderful mission in our world.


Valerie Penney serves on the Simply Mobilizing National Coordination Team as the Atlantic Region Coordinator, and works for Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada International Missions, equipping leaders globally. She and her husband Fred found themselves living in Newfoundland in 2018, back to the community where Fred grew up. On a free afternoon, they may be found hiking the East Coast Trail or Face-Timing with their three granddaughters.



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