By Mike Archer. As the community searches for positive outcomes to the Abbotsford Chicken Manure Homeless Incident one of those positive outcomes may be that residents have become more aware of the challenges facing the care community in Abbotsford.
Away from the political discussions about why all of the provincial funding for helping the homeless is, in Abbotsford anyway, allocated to one religious organization – the Salvation Army, something other communities like Chilliwack and Langley don’t do; or the politically volatile discussions about the City of Abbotsford’s fight against providing health care to drug addicts, the people who are making an attempt to help the poor, the homeless, the addicted and the disadvantaged in Abbotsford just quietly go about their business everyday and night trying to lend a hand to their fellow human beings.
One of the organizations which helps the homeless and the poor regardless of their reasons, difficulties or ‘barriers’ is 5 and 2 Ministries. While the homeless people who were unwelcome at the Salvation Army were being attacked by the City of Abbotsford with chicken manure last week, Jesse Wegenast dropped by to provide them with food and water.
The sad irony of the fact they were sitting in the shadow of the big Sally Ann building was not lost on Wegenast or the homeless.
“The Salvation Army does some great work in this community,” Wegenast says, “but there are others who need help too. And that’s where we try to step in.”
Pastor Ward Draper explains the name of the organization this way: “The 5 and 2 is a biblical reference to the miracle of the five loaves and two fish, given in the Gospel of John (and additionally in the other three Gospels), which reports that five small barley loaves and two small fish supplied by a boy were used by Jesus to feed a multitude,” it says on the ministry’s website.
The two spoke passionately at Wednesday’s meeting of the Abbotsford Social Development Advisory Committee (ASDAC) about the need for a dramatic change in the way Abbotsford deals with its poor and helpless.
They told the committee that the Chicken Manure Incident was in no way an isolated incident and forms part of a pattern in the way the authorities deal with the poor in Abbotsford.
As a result of Wegenast and Draper stepping forward, Abbotsford Police Department (APD) Chief Constable Bob Rich has asked the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC) to investigate the APD.
In a poignant note near the end of the two-hour ASDAC meeting, Wegenast told the committee that all of the motions and recommendations the committee has made over all of the years of its existence, while admirable and positive, have not and will not lead to change without homeless people actually being part of the discussion.
“When I was down talking to the people affected by the Chicken Manure Incident they told me, ‘Jesse we need a spokesman. You should be our spokesman.'”
“That’s ridiculous.” Wegenast told the committee. “These are just people. They shouldn’t need a spokesman.”
From 5 and 2 Ministries
The 5 and 2 Ministries uniform reflects the military principles upon which The 5 and 2 is organized. The 5 and 2 Ministries Service Corps and Samaritan Division uniforms are visible expressions of dedication to community development and improvement which create numerous valuable opportunities to provide a helping hand to those in need and to lend a voice for the marginalized of our world by our distinct presence.
Additionally the uniforms for members of the Christian community communicate a few additional aspects of note. First The 5 and 2 Ministries uniform gives us a tangible way to speak without words to outwardly demonstrate the inner working of God’s grace in our lives.
The uniform also provides opportunities to communicate the Red Letters of Jesus by being recognized by our wardrobe choice. It is part of a sacramental expression. As we walk into a room or stroll down the street while wearing this simple uniform, we become a visible reminder that Jesus Christ is the hope of the world and upon this truth we stand.
The uniform serves as a witness to The 5 and 2’s commitment to serving God and humanity. The 5 and 2 uniform is a symbol of commitment, dedication, discipline, and a sign of availability and accessibility in times of need or crisis.
Furthermore, the wearing of our uniform links us as members of an intentional wing of the Church that is both intensely dedicated to social justice and carrying the message of Jesus.
*Abbotsford Today has just learned that, after getting re-elected on a promise to extend funding to the Warm Zone, Abbotsford MLA and Finance Minister Mike de Jong has cut the organization’s funding in order to pay for the 18 percent raises for top aides in Victoria.
Pastor Ward Draper is the Founder and Executive Director of The 5 and 2. Ward has been married nearly 15 years to Lana and they have three children. Ward studied at Providence University College from 1999 to 2003 receiving his Bachelors of Arts degree in Biblical Studies. His portfolio continues to grow and includes publishing credits, articles, documentaries, conference speaking, college and university lectures, radio, and more. Ward keeps himself busy on the streets and in the boardrooms he is an active member of several boards, tables, working groups, and committees all aimed at social and community development. It is by this continual involvement on various levels that Pastor Ward is able to bring the voice of the marginalized into multiple areas where those voices are not too often heard.
Jesse Wegenast oversees the coordination and implementation of the day-to-day service operations of The 5 and 2, including thrice-weekly coffee nights and the Wednesday dinner. He has also stepped in to a pastoral / teaching role within the community as the speaker at Wednesday night services and leader of The 5 and 2 men’s group. Jesse has been involved with The 5 and 2 since 2006, and, since moving to Abbotsford in 2009, has served with the ministry on a full time basis. He is passionate about seeing people move from exclusion and loneliness to inclusion and love through positive relationships and the practice of Kingdom values. Jesse is currently in his third year of studies at the University of the Fraser Valley, with a major in Human Geography. He is married to the lovely Sharalin, who provides behind the scenes support for the work of The 5 and 2.
Randy has been married 30yrs & has three young adult children. He worked in construction for over 25 yrs building houses, condominiums and apartments through out the Fraser Valley as well as overseas until injuring his back in 2002. His wife and him have been active members in various churches in the Fraser Valley and Vancouver over the years; teaching Sunday School, managing the church nursery, managing church boys clubs, leading men’s & woman’s ministries, home bible studies, weekly prayer meetings and accountability groups for men. Randy provided “lay pastoral care” as a volunteer working under the Chaplain, now called Spiritual Care Coordinator, in the Fraser Health system since the spring of 2003 until the end of 2009. Under this ministry he received basic training for counseling patients with mental health issues as well as mentoring in Bowen Family System Theory for working with families dealing with trauma, family conflict and grief. As a volunteer and a leader within The 5and 2 Ministries, since the summer of 2010, Randy leads and coordinates the bi-weekly Sandwich Patrol and oversees our outreach; delivering food and clothing, providing rides to doctors appointments, to the food bank, accompanying individuals to court and the parole office as well as visitation at the hospital or where ever people need love, support and friendship.
If you would like to donate to our ministry please use the PayPal donate button below to donate via Visa or MasterCard. Tax receipts are mailed out in February. Our charitable number is #85497 3310 rr0001.
If you would like to volunteer or donate by cash or cheque please download the form here and mail or drop it off.
We hope to hear from you soon.
Editor’s Note: All photos and background material from 5 and 2 Ministries.