Family Radio CHRI


Respond Ottawa

ott respond 330Ottawa churches are banding together to respond to disaster. Following the tornadoes, last fall, and the 2017 flood, local ministries have partnered to form Respond Ottawa, a rapid-response task force for both short- and long-term responses to natural disasters affecting the national capital region.

“We’re very humbled to be given this opportunity to help our city and respond to communities with love,” says Donna Boisvert, the serve team leader at Sequoia Community Church. “Our role will be to serve as an equipper—we are disciples teaching disciples.”

Boisvert and her husband Mike are coordinating Respond Ottawa, along with Pastor Mike Hogeboom and his wife, Julie, of Arlington Woods Free Methodist Church. To date, the interdenominational project has representation from five groups: One Way Ministries, Love Ottawa, Arlington Woods Free Methodist Church, Sequoia Community Church, and the Metropolitan Bible Church.

“The greater Church is far more equipped to work as a team, as compared to being independent satellites,” adds Boisvert. She adds the primary goal of Respond Ottawa will be to coordinate disaster relief efforts while training and equipping local church communities to handle crisis moments effectively.

“When tragedies happen, we need to run to a hurting world. God brings us to restore hope and love.”

Boisvert says Respond Ottawa will work with City of Ottawa officials and lean on Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian humanitarian aid organization that promotes Jesus’ gospel message and shares God’s love by providing emergency relief programs to communities in need.

Such relief includes providing food, water, clothing, hygiene products, shelter, and services like debris clean-up and power generation for people lacking electricity.

“We have the opportunity to give hope,” says Hogeboom, whose church building and community were directly impacted by the tornadoes last September. “In many ways, the world can’t do that in the way we know through Jesus Christ.”

The idea, which began last October, is still in the early stages. Hogeboom says the Respond Ottawa operation will seek to mobilize volunteers from churches of multiple denominations across the city.

“It’s our desire that we would be able to respond to any need in the region,” he says. “We have the opportunity to say, ‘You’re not alone,’ and reach out to guide and support.”

Respond Ottawa hosted a training seminar March 23 at Arlington Woods Free Methodist Church. Hogeboom says that while they initially anticipated 20 people, about 75 registered. The training was led by the rapid-response team of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada and by Samaritan’s Purse.

Boisvert, who has been involved in North American relief projects since 2006, says Respond Ottawa now seeks to build on its calling to facilitate a unified Christian response to tragedies in the city.

“It’s Kingdom work,” she says. “This world needs hope, [we have hope] and we need to share that.”

By Matt Charbonneau
From Spur Ottawa
Photo courtesy of Sequoia Community Church

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