Thursday, February 28, 2013

Coldest Night of the Year

I was glad that it wasn't literally the coldest night of the year. Because if it was, I'm not quite sure how I would've survived standing outside being exposed to the elements like that! Brrrrr... it was cold!

Last Saturday, our whole family volunteered at the Oshawa location of the Coldest Night of the Year event. Together with people from our Home Church, we marshaled the route for this "non-competitive 2 km, 5 km and 10 km winter-walk fundraiser supporting select Canadian charities that serve the hungry, homeless and hurting in cities and communities across Canada."

At the Oshawa location, the organization being supported is called The Refuge, a shelter for homeless youth. It was an awesome night of serving together as a family and as a Home Church, playing a small part in helping The Refuge raise $50,000.00+!

Hubby and my boy had the not-so-cold, but harder job of driving the relief vehicle, a.k.a. our family van, along the route in case there are walkers in need of help.

Home Church peeps! What an awesome team!!!

My girl and I, along with our fellow Home Church peeps, had the easier, but oh-so-cold job of standing at designated street corners cheering on walkers and directing them where to go.

At our first post.
My girl and I, we eagerly stood at our first post. We held up these cardboard signs, designed to mimic the signs that homeless people often hold up when they stand in street corners begging. We actually caught the attention of a few passers-by and of a few people in the cars driving by. A couple actually asked us if we needed anything. We felt a little bit how it would feel to be homeless and begging and having people take notice of us!

We were chipper and cheerful, especially when we spotted the first of the yellow toques bobbing up and down in the horizon. The first batch of walkers were coming our way! We waved, blew our party horns, encouraged and thanked the walkers. In less than an hour, all of the walkers had passed us by!

Hurrah! It was time to move on to our second post, towards the end of the route.

The very nice and kind and good-looking relief vehicle driver and his eager little man assistant drove us to our second post where we set up our sign and prepared ourselves for this shift, which would be longer than the first... quite possibly double the time.

At our second post.
By this time, my toes were starting to feel cold and numb, and my nose was starting to become frozen.

As my girl and I waited and waited for signs of the first group of yellow toques to start appearing in the horizon, we noticed that night had fallen.

It was dark. We were hungry. We were miserably cold. We had toes that were frozen solid. We. just. wanted. to. go. home!

We started to feel a little bit more... okay, a lot more, how it would feel to be homeless, living on the streets with nowhere to go warm up on a cold and wintry February night.

And then, it happened.
I noticed that a group of three boys were walking towards us. They looked scruffy and unkempt. At this point, there was a lull in the walkers that were passing us by. My girl and I, we felt alone in that street corner.

These boys walked closer... and then one of them walked right up to my girl, at a distance that was too close for my comfort, and said suggestively, "Hey, so how's it going?"

My heart raced. This person just propositioned my girl! I was livid. Angry! My quick-thinking girl, being braver than me, stared back at him with a look that said, "Don't mess with me!" and this group of three boys silently walked away into the night, realizing that we weren't actually girls standing by a street corner waiting for "that-kind-of-business".

At that very moment, my heart broke for the countless girls, whether teenagers or not, whether homeless or not, who face this kind of atrocity each and every single day, at times all day long --- just one of many forms of modern-day slavery.

Friends, we need to END THIS! We need to put an end to modern-day slavery!!!

I've recently just started to get myself educated on this topic. It started with following Tara Teng, a passionate Christian abolitionist who also happens to be Miss World Canada 2012. Then not too long ago, hubby and I attended a screening of Nefarious: Merchant of Souls, a documentary that exposes the injustice beneath the surface of sex-tourism. There's also Christine Caine and The A21 Campaign, an organization that exists to abolish injustice in the 21st century. And also International Justice Mission, a human rights organization that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression.

And of course, the newly-formed End It Movement, shining a light on slavery, disappearing from the social media communities yesterday "in honor of the 27 million men, women and children who've disappeared, trapped in slavery, in brothels, in factories, in quarries, working as slaves, in 161 countries, including our own."

{Please pause the playlist on the sidebar of this blog as you watch this video.}

All of a sudden...
My girl and I, we see the last of the yellow toques! Hurrah!!! It was time to end our shift. By this point, we were beyond cold. We were frozen. We were hungry. We were miserable. But the beautiful thing is, my girl and I... we get to go home! 

We have a more-than-adequate house to go home to, with warm beds, with lots of food, with lots of warm clothes and most of all, a loving family. Yes, all of a sudden, the very nice and kind and good-looking relief vehicle driver and his eager little man assistant arrived to help us pack up our post. Yes, we get to finally go home and warm up our frozen-solid toes and noses, and fill our hungry tummies with food, and rest our tired bodies on a warm bed covered with a cozy comforter!

Sadly, many of our brothers and sisters do not get to go home... trapped, in modern-day slavery.
The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
          because he has anointed me
          to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
          and recovery of sight for the blind,
          to set the oppressed free,
          to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

~ from Jesus' first public speech, Luke 4:18-19.
Friends, this is Jesus' manifesto. Shouldn't it become ours too?

Compassion is a command, an act of worship, a song of thanks to Him.
Do justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly with God!


  1. Wow! What a night!! So glad you stayed safe and learned lots too :oO. IJM is the one I am most familiar with and they do a LOT of work. Are you on their prayer list? They will email you weekly the top topics in need of our prayers.


    1. Hi Deborah. Yes, IJM does a lot of work, especially in Cebu City (Philippines)! I will get on their email list. Thanks for letting me know about it.

  2. Good post, Aimee, and I love the (unintentional) contrast between the four of you in the photo at the top of the page and the "action" photos in the post. (But I think you understated the cold!)

    1. Thanks, Russ! LOL at understating the cold... I guess you felt beyond frozen that night too! :-)