Lutheran Church of Canada congregations recently helped outfit First Nations children, in a half dozen remote B.C. coastal communities, with school supplies and colourful backpacks.
The joint project of the Parksville-based B.C. Mission Boat Society (MBS) and Lutheran Hour Ministries of Winnipeg “was a great way to show God’s love,” said MBS executive director Marcus Huff.
The Mission Boat Society sends staff to the First Nations villages year-round — visiting shut-ins and elders, providing programs for children and helping local Christians do ministry. Only one of the six communities has a full-time pastor.
During the summer months, the seas are gentle enough for the visits to be made by the society’s 42-foot motor vessel, Tyee J., carrying volunteer mission workers “of all ages,” said Huff.
The rest of the year, staff and volunteers travel by cars and seaplanes.
Huff said the backpacks contain the usual supplies of pencils, pens, notebooks, pencil sharpeners, construction paper, Bible stories and a toy or two.
“They are purchased and packed by individual churches, especially by the kids,” he said, which is why the project at the donor end is called ‘Kids for Kids.’ Parents and children buy the bags and contents, said Huff, while the kids pack them.
“They can leave something about themselves inside, if they want to start up a pen-pal relationship.”
MBS handed out some 100 packs this summer, and expects to hand out at least another 100 this fall; it gave out 200 last year, which was the first time Kids for Kids was implemented.
Those setting up the project were motivated by an obvious need. “Teachers in the schools told us their budgets had been cut so much they couldn’t give their students basic supplies,” explained Huff.
Huff said mission boats have been on the B.C. coast for 100 years, and he knows of at least two others still working — operated by North American Indigenous Ministries and by Coastal Ministries.