There is a Chinese expression that roughly translates as, “In the blink of eye.” It is meant to describe how time flies when you least aware of it. By God’s grace, Mercy City Church (MCC) celebrated its 10 year anniversary recently. Hard to believe that over a decade ago, God began this new work in one of the inner city neighbourhoods in Toronto. It was a new project with a decidedly old school Biblical approach to church. A church that was not just in a community, but a part of it. Mercy had a vision to be a Gospel light and presence focused on reaching the marginalized, disadvantaged and unchurched. Through showing mercy people would come to know know and become disciples of Jesus. A decade after a rag tag group of 12 faithfully naive people launched the project, Mercy is still doing the work of the Gospel and sticking true to its vision. And if we are to sum up the reason why in one word it would be…DEPENDENCE.
A lot has changed in 10 years. We have learned so much and faced so much challenge. We have also been so blessed to see so much breakthrough and provision. Through all the ups and downs, one thing has been true – Dependence on Jesus is what it is all about.
“…apart from me you can do nothing.” “My grace is sufficient for you…” (John 15:5; 2 Corinthians 12:9)
Starting a new church is hard. Starting a new church like Mercy is really hard and foolish. It is only possible because of the power of Jesus. Surviving and thriving for a decade is all about depending on Jesus.
We Learned early on that we were never going to be a “normal” church. Ironically, if we were faithful to our mission, we would lose people, for a good reason. If we helped people change their lives, they would be able to get out of the neighbourhood. That is what we have seen. Seasons of growth, followed by seasons of restarting. It is a not typical but beautiful to see. We have also realized that our fight is on the two fronts of the physical and spiritual. It is impossible to ignore the obvious challenges of serving those that are marginalized and disadvantaged. With it comes the battle against poverty, social justice, drugs and addictions, violence, and physical and mental health. Yet, fighting for physical needs are reasonable easy when compared to the spiritual needs that lie under the surface of a community such as ours. The spiritual warfare and depravity of people are where the real battle is raged as a church. We are literally in the heart of brokenness and spiritual bondage. This is the fight we are truly called to and for which the Gospel is our hope. This is why people need Jesus. Mercy City is a beachhead in this fight. The only way to fight has been to depend on Jesus for everything from our fruit to our finances; courage to our compassion; triumphs to our tiredness; trust to our trials; and fears to our faithfulness. Mercy only works because we depend on Jesus.
So what does dependence look like at Mercy over the years?
Prayer is dependence in action. Prayer covers everything we do. It has to! Prayer is what sustains and breaks though. We once were led by the Spirit to enter a season of continuous prayer. We had a prayer meeting 7 days a week for a year. We fought for our community on our knees. Prayer is not a ministry, it has to be the blood that flows through the church.
Living up to our namesake is not easy. Showing the love of God through acts of mercy is how people first see Jesus. Loving people by being the hands and feet of Jesus is messy and inefficient, but it is what we are called to do. You have to depend on Jesus for strength and patience and compassion in order to choose mercy.
Apart from The Gospel, nothing can really change a person or a community. We hold that idea sacred so everything we do has to connect back to the Gospel. The gospel we try to live out is simple: Love God, Love People. Jesus loves everyone, everyone needs to love Jesus. Repeat.
Audacious Hope: Hope is believing in the transformative work of Jesus and that He will provide all you need to accomplish that goal. Hope is trusting and depending on the power of Jesus to make a way, make things happen, and make us able to be obedience and loving to others even when it seems impossible. Hope can’t lie in our abilities or ingenuity. Dependent hope is audacious because it dares to believe Jesus can do all things, so there is no excuse not to do something.
As Mercy City Church celebrates a decade of dependence, realize that we are actually all in this together. The whole EFCC family shares in its victories and challenges because we are all one church. Every prayer, phone call, and donation through the years have made it possible. We are grateful for all the support and we ask for it to continue. We have come to depend on it! We will keep fighting the good fight as long as Jesus and you have our back.
MCC Lead Pastor