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Two staff members, several volunteers, 100 people without homes, one barbecue grill, and lots of art supplies could add up to one big mess. But in London, Ontario, “The Mess” is a weekly arts ministry that’s making an impact on the city.

The Mess is an arts-based initiative of First Christian Reformed Church in London, in partnership with Streetlight Ministries, which provides a place where people can meet Christ and get mentoring to help them find a way out of lifestyle patterns that have led them into poverty.

Mike Bieber, 29, has been part of the program since it started. “It’s an invite where everyone is welcome for a community meal, and we do art afterwards,” he said. “It doesn’t matter where you are coming from, and there are no expectations. It has made me grow as an artist and see things differently.”

This year The Mess received a $5,000 grant from the Christian Reformed Church’s Sea to Sea poverty-alleviation fund. Gayle Herrison, the kitchen coordinator for The Mess, rode across North America with the 2008 Sea to Sea bike tour. “It’s been so exciting to see that all the effort put into cycling last summer has come back to benefit a program I am part of,” she said.

Asked how the ministry got its name, First CRC’s pastor Rev. Pieter Pereboom said, “Because we mess around with arts. Because we come to Christ out of a mess. This world is a mess, and Christ comes to redeem the mess.”

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