- Meals, food to be precise, have an irresistible pull of affection to society, for as the maxim goes, feed a man or soul, you feed a community nay nation because of the multiplying effect.
In Toronto, a Canadian Pastor, has over the years applied the methodology of cooking, feeding freely and caring for a large number of the poor who simply walk into his church every Saturday, whether known or unknown, and get a full compliments of luncheon, to win souls for God.
Amazing as it sounds, Pastor Mark Goring of Church in Regent Park, had experimented Community Meal in the church in 1994, which then operated from 3.30pm-4pm, and it became a major success, thus with time, becoming the largest Meal Church in Toronto.
His zest, knows no bounds. First is to feed souls, thereafter those of them not under any compulsion, stay behind for the second stanza, which is the spiritual cleansing using the Bible on the sacred words of God.
Spiritual sanitisation quickly caught up with the deluge of the needy as could be found in every society of the world, as they trooped to get fed and listen to the word of God. It brought a flood gate of conversions as the church grew from its first negligible number to a large faithful coming over every Saturday.
So with a heart full of meek of human kindness, Pastor Mark and his wife Pastor Kim who handles the musical aspect of the church, have taken several risks by not only waiting for those in want to come over to the church, but had confronted the alcoholics, drug addicts and gang groups in their very habitat, at the risk of their lives.
In the last 15 years, the faces of these Pastors husband and wife have been a regular and constant faces in the communities, administering hope and amity by bringing succour to all and sundry, meeting both their spiritual needs and basic necessities of life.
He tells of some eerie stories of attempts to convince drug addicts and get some street gangs out of the streets, almost turned awry as some of the gang groups were very upset that they traced his children to their schools and were making enquiries of them.
A Pastor with muscular Christianity, he continues to relish and praise God for what He had laid on the palms of Church in Regent Park to offer to society at large. Pastor Mark’s reminiscences of his work in God’s Vineyard, sounds like a thriller film. Do have a Sunday delight:
“Regent Park is one of the oldest social groups/communities housing very low income people in the area at that time. Built in the late 40s, the area was full of crimes 15 years ago, gladly the area now has become a model to tackle crimes, poverty, drugs and those frightening challenges, have become a thing of the past. The old buildings have been pulled down about eight years ago and now we have tall beautiful buildings with bustling economic diversities never there before, springing up.”
From a modest and humble beginning of just trickles of people coming on our first day of introducing Community Meal, we have now almost a full house of diverse group of people from poor background.
The initial timing had to change so from 3.30pm we now run the service as from 5.30-6.30pm. Thereafter at 6.35pm we roll out spiritual songs and then preach the Bible. We then share testimonies that are awesome and exciting.
There are lots of people who had difficulties in understanding the word of God, a maze of people in the church and community that have left alcoholism, ex-criminals, drug addiction, prostitution, those hitherto sleeping on the streets, indeed those who had lost all hopes of making it in life again.
“We now have School teachers, nurses, we have begun a Sunday Bible Study and also a small Sunday Gathering Park. We are hoping to put something together for the children, toys we give out to children, Special Christmas Meal, Carols of Candle Light billed for December 21, this year. One of our board members, long time member, she has been organising cookies bags for Christmas as a tradition.
“The Church in Regent Park is most grateful and appreciate support from individuals, organisations and collegiate of 15 different churches that fund the feeding as they worked out a simple formula of one group of church taking care of the food for two months duration and another takes over.
“I am full of gratitude to God and humanity that we have continued to offer valuable services to the community meeting their spiritual and basic needs.
“Very pathetic stories that would bleed the heart but it is gratifying that most have turned a new leaf. One of our very active workers in church now, was a forsaken drug addict. When his mother passed on, he started doing drugs, cocaine leading to his loss of job. He began sleeping under a tree.
“One cold day, he hit rock bottom, picked up his pieces and went to a drug rehabilitation centre near our church. He found a bible and went back to school. He has been sober for over four years now.
“There are also about five people in the church who had also been down below on drugs but have now stayed stable and gone off drugs. God can do all things. Our joy is that we have touched lives and those who felt persecuted and abandoned. Trans gender, LGTBQ acronym for Lesbians, Gay Trans Gender, Bisexual Quere.
“Perseverance to God has a way of strengthening us. We have gone past the age where we just come to Sunday service and go. We must share our experiences and testimonies as they are the lubricants to ignite and save souls. We must go into the community and help them out.
“My wife Kim is gifted musically and she leads worship songs every Saturday. My children are also learning music and there is no gain saying that in a few years time, they will join the church worship group.
“We have full resident bands for the community and my parents are nurtured in worship as my mother is a pianist and father a good drummer amongst other attributes.”
Pastor Mark Goring’s background is enriched with 17 years of worship with the youths, 12 years in neighbourhood fellowship and had pastored churches in various areas of Canada viz Scarborough Maldern, smaller communities in Toronto and also worked for years at north east of Toronto.
Majored in Theology at the Eastern Pentecostal Bible College Peterborough, where he got a Degree, he told me of a gripping story that brought tears to his eyes that indeed made him to seek better ways of helping community.
Two gang groups had been at daggers drawn, with one of them approaching him for a solution. The gang put before him a riddle and impossible question that made him retire to his closet in the church and weep.
Pressed further, he had no answers to their plight. Through research, he now found a solution by attending further training at the Full Seminary Los Angels where he got Urban Certificate and thorough grooming from experienced theologians and experts on managing crime infested areas.
Feeding several mouths, so to say, is Biblical. Jesus had used the breaking of bread and drinking of wine to feed his disciples and to a larger extent the entire Christian world, that still partake in the sharing of the bread and wine. To share with the downtrodden brings a spasm of hope to the lost and forsaken. It restores love and creates conviviality with the hoipoli.
Pastor Mark Goring epitomises the typical Canadian, ever loving, hospitable and friendly, ready to assist any visitor in case one has questions on seeking directions to locations. The streets of Toronto, Ontario and Calgary, yours sincerely visited, speak volume of a
People well nurtured, cultured and a Canada that works, worthy of emulation by world leaders.