If you had to sum up Jesus’ teachings on the gospel in two stories, they would be the parables of the shepherd who lost his sheep and the woman who lost her coin (Luke 15:3–10). Both stories demonstrate a beautiful truth: God pursues us. He seeks out the one. God’s heart is tender toward us and moves him to meet us—wherever we are.
This heart-orientation has been our theme in Peterborough this past year. During the pandemic, we established a drop-in centre in the heart of the Talwood neighbourhood with the hope of reaching children and youth. After a few weeks of running drop-in, there was no sign of anyone. Was this a good time to start a new drop-in? It wasn’t until a month later that one young man stepped in.
Over the course of the year, this one youth was the only one to attend our Talwood drop-in program. The space became a place for him to connect, build relationships, and have fun. Our staff poured into him, having numerous conversations about faith and what it means to live wholeheartedly in a relationship with God.
Last summer, we invited him to a worship event in Del Crary Park. It was there that he had a personal encounter with God. His heart was awakened to hear God’s voice calling him as he witnessed a group of Christians pour out their souls in worship. After a year and a half of multiple staff members pouring into this youth, he encountered God without our coaxing in that park.
We pursued the one, but really it was God who pursued the one. And in that park, that young man encountered the One.
As we reflect on our journey with this youth and the parables, we find that both the shepherd and the woman have lost something valuable. So they searched with all their hearts until it was found. And the reunion was cause for great joy.
God places a high value on the one. As a staff team, we were able to work alongside God to see this youth discover God in a significant way, knowing that God was already at work within his life. Now, we witness him enthusiastically living out this relationship with God in the Talwood area, where he is now a person of peace in the community. It all started with one youth showing up to our program.
This is the power of one.