Some of you may recall a summer in the early 2000’s when the power went out in large sections of Toronto for several days. I was at work at Gateway when that happened, and once we figured out how to operate the shelter with no electricity, I needed to go home. The problem was, no buses or streetcars were working.
I was stranded.
Then, one of my co-workers came to the rescue and offered me her bike to ride home. I hadn’t been on a bike in more years than I could remember, but I agreed to give it a shot. My co-worker was much taller than me, so her bike was huge. But I got on it and started riding. It was so incredibly exhilarating. I loved it! I even ended up falling off the bike on the way home and got a pretty good cut on my knee. That may have been the icing on the cake as to how I came to adore cycling. Soon after, I went to a shop and bought myself a bike. From that point on I cycled to work whenever I could, and relished every chance to ride.
That led me to becoming a big fan of professional road cycling events, especially the Tour De France. The tour covers over 3000km and lasts three weeks during the month of July (it’s on right now), and the best 200-ish cyclists on the planet each start the race with different goals and aspirations. Each cyclist is one of nine members of a team, and each team has a leader that the other riders support in different ways. In reality, out of all of the cyclists to start the race, only two or three riders have a legitimate chance to win the tour. The other riders are there just to support their team leaders in different ways using different skill sets. They ride for the sake of their team, and if their leader wins a stage or the whole tour, the first words to come out of their mouths inevitably is to thank their team for making it possible. Cycling is a team sport. No one wins without help from his teammates and the teams are much more than the sum of their parts.
Last week I attended staff devotions at Gateway. Phil, my friend and the Gateway chaplain, used a verse about unity and teamwork that has stuck with me ever since.
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves, a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12
As we at Toronto Housing and Homeless Supports go about our work, we do it as a team. No one could do this work on his or her own. Our individual shelters need to work as teams, and as we integrate all of our shelters we begin to see the bigger picture of becoming one big team with the same goals in mind. In our case, it’s not so that we can win some kind of race, but because we love and care for the many men and women that come through our doors every night without any place to call home. We can do more for those men and women together than we can do apart. That is why we are doing this integration. We know in our hearts that this is the right thing to do for the sake of those we love. There will be times when we fall off our bikes and cut up our knees. But we just get up, shake the dust off, bandage the wounds so they can heal and climb back on and keep going. And the more unified we become, the better chance we have of achieving our goals and becoming ‘a cord that is not quickly broken’.
Let’s keep on striving to be ‘The Hand of God in the Heart of the City”
Dion Oxford, Director of Mission Integration
We pray that we respect all ideas and efforts of all members of the team
We pray that our results might be as rewarding as our hopes are
We pray that each member of this team might recognize one another’s contribution for the whole
Bless this team and effort Lord. Make us shining examples of the value of working together for good, for your glory.