Celebrating Misty River Ministries
In early November of 2017, Bart Metcalf was asked by an elder of the Gitwangak First Nations community if he would visit and pray with an elderly man dying of cancer. He said "Yes."
Today we celebrate what happened after Bart's "yes," and the work of Misty River Ministries, a New Venture in Hazelton, BC.
Bart and Korrin Metcalf have had a long history of working with Canada's First Nation people. Beginning in northern Saskatchewan, where they started a Sunday afternoon service for the Cree First Nations people and spent time with couples from this community one on one, they eventually settled in Hazelton, BC, a village where 80% of the community is made up of people from First Nations.
“We quickly realized that if we were going to honour what God was doing around us, the people of Canada's First Nations communities needed to hold first place in our hearts,” Bart recalls.
Misty River Ministries began in November 2006 as a partnership ministry between the Christian & Missionary Alliance and the Lutheran Association of Missionaries and Pilots. Together they ran Vacation Bible Schools and soccer camps for First Nations communities in northern BC. Then, in 2015, Bart launched out and began Grace Gathering to continue his work among the Gitxsan People, a group of six First Nation communities in Hazelton and its surrounding area.
Back to Bart's yes
The following story comes to you from the village of Gitwangak, formerly called Kitwanga.
Bart got a man's address, went up to his house and knocked on the door. He waited. When no one responded after several knocks and more waiting, he slid his card under the door and left.
In the end it was the wrong house. He had knocked on someone else's door.
But when he got home later that day, there was a message waiting for him from the owner of the wrong house, where he had left his card. The man said that he had read the card and wondered if Bart would connect with him. He was interested in finding out more.
Bart said, "Yes."
It turned out that this man was a 40-year-old former cocaine dealer who wanted to know God. Bart began to talk about God in the way that he usually begins, of God as our Creator. Of this Creator being our Father.And as his story unfolded, of Jesus, God's Son, who was sent into this world to take our guilt and sin upon Himself - showing how much God, our Holy Creator, loved us, in spite of our sin.
“Is that making sense to you?” he asked.
"Yes," the man said.
"I’d like to move forward with this."
Astonished by the immediacy of his answer and how ready he was to hear more, Bart continued the story, eventually praying with him to repent and receive Christ.
His whole orientation in life was around a drug life. He was having to redefine all kinds of things in light of the gospel.
The doors continue to open...
Next Bart got a chance to meet some of the former drug dealer's friends. Leaving his house one day, he found another man waiting for him outside. The man told him that his mother was a devoted Christian and that he knew the Bible very well. They began talking and the man eventually said, “I’d like you to come to my house.”
Bart said, "Yes."
A few evenings later Bart showed up at the address the man had given him. He found himself at a party house, in the middle of a party. He found the guy that invited him there and made conversation in the midst of the partying. One of the men who was there was from Old Hazelton and Bart knew him. The man wanted Bart to meet his 19 year old son - a strategic connection for Bart, who is especially burdened to reach the younger Indigenous generation.
Sitting around with some of the people gathered, Bart seized an opportunity to ask, rather unconventionally:
“Is it ok if I read a passage from the Bible?”
The response, overwhelmingly, was: "Quick, shut off the music. Be quiet!"
He proceeded to read to them from Psalm 139:
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
When he finished they responded, “Yes!”
Bart then asked if they wanted to pray. They held hands and prayed for one friend who had cancer. They raised other requests and prayed some more. And just when he thought they were done, another girl spoke up.
"There’s something else I need prayer for…”
The party went on...
“There's hunger in places where we don’t expect it,” says Bart. “I feel like through this whole experience God was teaching me that the best thing I could do was to stay open to the opportunities that come in unexpected forms, and to say yes to them.”
Currently, Bart has a particular burden for the young people in this community who, unlike their parents who have had some exposure to Christianity, are completely unreached for Christ.
Friday night's Grace Gathering is another forum through which members of the community can gather and celebrate the grace of Jesus. Currently this group is around 30 people on a given Friday night, with 20-25% from First Nations communities. Bart is asking God to raise up young people who will know Christ, break free from cycles of addiction that derail their young lives, and lead their communities out of lives changed by faith in Christ.
Let's pray with him, to that end, and let's ask for many more opportunities for Misty River Ministries to say "Yes" to!