Waterloo New Life Alliance: Gaining Momentum
With a population of about 130,000 people, Waterloo ranks among the fastest growing cities in Canada.
Waterloo is also home to three post-secondary institutions, namely the University of Waterloo, Laurier University and Conestoga College. Together, these schools enrol over 100,000 students annually - and Chinese students represent a large portion of this vast influx. At the University of Waterloo alone, there are 4,000+ students from mainland China every year, most of them undergraduates.
With its proximity to Toronto, and location in the middle of the southern Ontario peninsula, Waterloo is also a hotspot for young families. It offers many amenties for growing families who want to avoid the congestion and busyness of the city, and is about a one hour commute for those who have to travel in to Toronto for school or work.
It was with these demographics in mind that Waterloo New Life Alliance was launched as a New Venture in June 2017 under the leadership of Paul Yang.
A challenging context
Paul has observed that students at the University of Waterloo experience high pressure and stress, causing them to prefer to stay at home or on campus to study. Thus, the main challenge in reaching students, says Paul, is making personal connections as students are often rendered inaccessible behind books and course loads.
When it comes to young families, the question of what will effectively present the great value of Christ in their daily lives becomes the biggest challenge. The demands of work combined with caring for children make for exhausted young parents who aren’t very interested in adding church activities to their schedules.
A steadfast response
Paul Yang and his team have been working hard to lead innovatively at Waterloo New Life. Paul says that the most successful strategies with students have been invitations to participate in activities related to holidays like Thanksgiving and Chinese Lunar New Year. They have also had success in handing out flyers on campus. Students at Waterloo New Life are strongly encouraged to participate in events on their school campuses and to make relationships with other students.
Paul finds that investing in personal relationships is also the best way to reach families. He encourages families to build relationships with those who are not yet part of the church so that those families may eventually be comfortable joining in a Sunday gathering.
How you can help
Paul says, “We are praying for more students to come to our church and to accept the message of Jesus. In the meantime, we pray that God would bring more families to us and that we’d have more opportunities to serve students.”
Please pray along with Paul and his team!