By: David Rowlandson | November 22, 2019
Rachel Don joined the down-town-core Deedz ministry as part of her International Development class this semester. The decision was initially made to meet volunteer requirements.
Don says she did not expect Deedz to be a legitimate organization to partner with, but the ministry soon challenged her expectations.
“[The experience] was special,” she says. “Just seeing that there’s not so big a difference between us and them – and there shouldn’t even be an ‘us and them’! – they’re human. Seeing that humanness and connecting over our humanness was cool”.
Her encounter with an immigrant down-town led to one of these shared moments. Connecting over their love for mathematics, the two discussed logic puzzles and chess.
“We laughed and talked about these things that we were able to connect over. It was really cool to find connection points with someone that from a surface level I wouldn’t think I have anything in common with,” says Don.
At the heart of the Deedz ministry is this unusual potential for connection. A cup of hot chocolate acts as an ice breaker on cold nights, opening the chance to support those lonely and in need of a listening ear.
The diverse Deedz team is itself composed of regulars and come-and-goers. Don has enjoyed bonding with this regular cycle of students as she builds relationships she would otherwise not have.
“[The team experience] has been really cool,” she says. “The whole bus ride there and back is itself a huge connecting time as members of a team”.
There is much to be gained in this environment.
“It’s really great to learn from them, especially those who have been going pretty consistently since their first year. I find that really amazing that they’ve been committing their Friday nights to doing this”. Don enjoys hearing their experiences and seeing the long-term relationships formed among the urban core.
“Even just communally grieving over some of what we see has been really cool,” she says. Last week Don joined in a prayer walk. The team members passed the Urban Core shelter which had just been torn down for construction. Previously a bus shelter, the location had been a regular stop for a soup truck and provided people with shelter and community. It was a serious loss not only for people down-town, but for Deedz members familiar with the location too.
“Five or six of us prayed together and together our hearts were so heavy. We all felt that, and we all brought that to God as a team”. Don says these moments of shared grieving are held alongside moments of shared celebration, such as seeing a Deedz member have a good conversation with someone else. “It’s really cool getting to share those kinds of moments with other Redeemer students”.
At the heart of Don’s Deedz experience is her new understanding of development.
“I love that we’re not trying to be productive, but really Spirit-led, just forming relationships. In the context of the class I’m taking [I’m] learning what development means in different contexts. [It] doesn’t always mean fixing everything or being productive; development can just be building relationships and taking time [with others], especially in our crazy-busy culture and society where nobody takes time for some of these people who are often overlooked”.
For more information on this student-led ministry, contact Deedz leader firstname.lastname@example.org or join the team as they bus into Hamilton on Friday nights.