From my Heart: Some Thoughts After the Toronto Van Attack

Tomorrow at Toronto City Church as we gather to worship there is going to be a major focus put on the van attack in our city this past week that took the lives of 10 people, injured even more and devasted a city. We are going to worship, we are going to pray, and we are going to talk about some practical things we can do to show the love of God and make a difference.

One thing we will be talking about is a multi-church prayer walk and love outreach that will be happening leading up to the city-wide vigil being held at Mel Lastman Square. It’s a great opportunity to serve in a real and practical way alongside many other believers.

This past Monday, on the day of the attack, I sent the following note to our TCC Family members. While it was written to TCC I felt like I wanted to share it with a broader audience by posting it here on my blog:

Hey Family,

I wanted to reach out quickly to our TCC Family after all that transpired today here in the city of Toronto. I’m sure, like us, you have been very saddened by what went on, the lives lost, and all those who were injured. It hit particularly close for Pastor Sharon and I as we live about a two-minute walk from where everything happened. We have definitely been processing, talking and praying (as I’m sure you have too).

In light of all this, I had several thoughts/reflections I wanted to share with you. They are not super polished or proofed… they are just from my heart to you.

1) We need to ‘mourn with those who mourn’ – mourning is not something that most of us have much of a grid for but God has called us to have a heart for people, a heart for our city and to be moved by the things that are going on with them. Jesus wept over Jerusalem. He wept when He went to Lazarus’ tomb. He was moved by deep compassion for people and all that they were going through. Each one of us needs to process all that has happened and allow our hearts to be moved by it. We need to have compassion and be available to others to help them process and grieve as well. In these times we don’t need to have ‘the right answers’. We need to be present. We need to listen. We need to support. Ask God to allow you to get more of His heart for this situation. It will change your prayers. It will change the way you serve others. It will allow you to operate more like He would in situations like these.

2) Let’s be praying for our city and those affected during this time – I know that when things like this happen many people talk about praying, and for the majority, it is simply a nice thing to say but for the people of God it is so much more than that. We know that when we pray in faith the power of God is released and there are so many that need his power right now. The families of those killed, those in hospital, those who are gripped by fear over this incident. Many of them don’t know God and don’t know how to go to Him but we are called to be intercessors who “stand in the gap”. Let’s do it! Let’s pray! I have asked all the Prayer Cadres to cover this this week (if you are not in one, you are welcome to join one) and also will be asking our Connexions to pray into this as well. Pastor Sharon and I took time tonight to talk and pray with our kids about this. I encourage you to be praying daily regarding all that has gone on. When you see a newscast or a headline, when it comes up in conversation, when your mind comes back to it, PRAY! Again, this is not just a religious exercise but something that makes a real difference. Let’s be people of prayer!

3) Let’s be ready to minister the love of God and hope – the Bible is very clear that we are ambassadors of heaven… that each one of us are ministers in the world in which we live. I was praying/pondering today about the response that Lord would want me to have regarding this and how I could minister to others and then it hit me: this isn’t just a question for me but a question for all of us because we are all called to be ministers. Over the next few days and weeks, you are going to be around a lot of people who have been impacted by this. They are probably never going to meet me but you are right there with them and you can minister the love of God to them. I’m not talking about necessarily ‘preaching’ but being someone who listens, someone who prays for them, someone who encourages them and shares the love of God. Be ready for any open door the Lord gives you. Don’t be afraid, he will give you the words to speak.

4) Let’s remember who is behind these terrible events (and it’s not God) – John 10:10 says “the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy but I have come that you might have abundant life”. Invariably, as we are processing through tragedies like these, some form of the question ‘why did God cause this, or why did He let this happen?” will arise. If we are going to pray and minister to others effectively it’s very important that we understand without a shadow of a doubt that this was not God. It was the devil. He is the thief that comes to steal, kill and destroy. He is the one who deceives, torments and twists the minds of people so that they would commit such a demonic act as was committed today. Our heavenly Father is not in the business of having anything to do with events like this. He is not part of the problem – but He is the solution. We need to run to Him in prayer. We need to run to Him for grace and wisdom to minister to others. We need to work even harder to point people to Him. We need to encourage people in His grace, His goodness and that His arms are wide open to them during this time. In times like this people need to know that God is a good Father who they can run to. Let’s tell people about this Good Father even in the midst of tragedy, and let’s be His hands and feet in loving those around us.

I think that’s it for now… in closing let’s be people of prayer, people who love and serve others, and people who point those around us to our good Heavenly Father during this time. Ask the Lord how you can minister to others around you during this time. Let’s be lights in the middle of the darkness. 

Pastor Sharon and I love you – and are thankful that we are walking together with you. Let’s continue to grow together as a family that is a ‘Rescue Ship Church’ that get’s to as many people as possible!

Love you, and love serving God with you

Pastor Brendan

Photo by Arturo Castaneyra on Unsplash

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