In a shopping plaza along a busy street in Niagara Falls, Ontario, the office of Douglas Stuive and his colleague Linda Barnsley includes space for counselors from the Niagara Life Centre to minister to clients. Stuive and Barnsley are not mental health providers. They are, in fact, accountants, one a partner and one a manager, with a bankruptcy firm.
Stuive, a member of Mountainview Christian Reformed Church in Grimsby, Ontario, felt that he and Barnsley were encountering individuals whose financial struggles were not the root of their problems, and that there were more needs than could be met by accounting professionals alone. “The Niagara Life Centre helps people deal with emotional issues,” Stuive said, “so we could see a cross opportunity there.”Rita Makubuya, Niagara Life Centre’s executive director, welcomed the offer of space and saw the opportunity for growth as a gift from God. Makubuya said that in order to increase the centre’s ability to meet and serve people, it needs to expand its traditional support base.
“We have the churches and we have our solid individual supporters,” she said, “but when we serve, we serve everybody—the secular world too.” For that, the opportunity for ministry right in the middle of the marketplace is ideal.
Stuive sees this sharing of office space as an incubator for the fledgling growth of the centre’s ministry in Niagara Falls. While the centre’s counselors currently use the room one day per week and are three-quarters full, new intakes are happening every day. As the ministry can afford to fund its counselors for more time, Stuive agrees that the room could be available for another day or two. Makubuya trusts that what God has provided there is just the start for the centre’s work in Niagara Falls. “If the need is there and people become aware of it, God will bless it,” she said.