As another year has started and I move forward with my life as a Christian, husband, father, papa, and community member I can’t help but think of the word “connections.” Even as I work with the homeless and vulnerable in downtown Edmonton, Alta., I think of the word “connections.” As an Indigenous man of God, I think of being connected to God, to the local church, to my family, to my employer, and to my community.
I’ve noticed in life and the past 14 years in ministry that people want to be connected to something bigger than themselves. My ancestors were connected to the land in many ways, which connected them to the Creator. They knew that everyone and everything is connected in life—physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Scripture also says we are body, soul, and spirit. All are connected, affecting each part.
Many are striving for 2023 to be more productive, more effective, and more fulfilling than previous years. Many times in life, as some have said, it’s not what happens to you but how you respond to it. This is a hard truth to swallow, but swallow it we must. It’s the connections we have in our families, churches, and communities that will make whatever lies ahead that much easier to navigate.
When I reflect on my life, connections have made all the difference in the world. Being connected to God through Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit is paramount. Jesus said in John 14:18, “ No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.” Jesus said this when he was promising the Holy Spirit to all believers in him.
Being connected to my family and friends in the church has also been an encouragement to me. They have often helped me with vehicles, finances, and many other forms of assistance. They’ve encouraged me as I’ve moved forward in ministry: helping with websites, helping with posters and public relations material, helping with writing and speaking—the list goes on and on. All of this help came from being connected with people—people who care about me.
As I work with homeless men, they often have addictions and mental health issues to deal with. That’s OK. We’re all human, and we all need help. Some of us have been afflicted with addictions more than others. As a side note, even those who still have jobs, houses, and vehicles have addictions too. It’s a human problem. Yet, as one person has said, connections are the opposite of addiction.
The more we as humans are disconnected from people, groups, or organizations in our support system the harder it is to function effectively. There’s the odd person who prides themselves in “doing it all alone,” or saying, “Nobody did it but me!” Yet the average person longs for connection. Those who are disgruntled have lost a connection in one way or another, and that’s why they’re disgruntled. They’ve been disconnected.
When my ancestors were connected to the land in the past, they felt the rhythms of life in the seasons. They felt in connection with animals and nature in general. Certain berries were for certain cures and nutrition. Certain herbs, plants, and roots were for certain ailments or healing. Certain parts of any given animal were used for certain purposes. Certain parts of different trees were used for survival and tipis.
Being connected to each other in the local church is also vital and productive for healthy living as a believer in Jesus. It enables us to connect with each other at least once during the week and worship our Lord together. Hear the Bible taught together. Hear each other pray together. Share our heartaches together. Share our victories together. My encouragement to you is to get connected with your support system. It makes the load lighter.