Why Relationship?

Others, Relationships

Contributed by: Inner City Youth Alive

Written by John Janzen, Director of Development at ICYA


I was attracted to working at ICYA because of the central emphasis on relationship. I’ve spent a lifetime thinking about community development, and how to really go beyond slogans and Facebook posts to see real social change occur. And as anyone who is paying attention will know, there aren’t a lot of simple answers. As a matter of fact, after 25 years of digging into the questions, I would contend that those who think there are simple and obvious answers are the ones who tend to do the most damage.

This past weekend I was sitting at the fire pit of a beautiful cottage near Kenora. I was thinking about cabins and boats and holiday getaways and how they tie-in to a question my sons have asked me a number of times: Is it ok for Christians to have big houses and nice things? My answer is usually something like, “I think it is, IF we find ways to share our nice things with those who get pushed to the edges of society.”

My next thought was how? How might that work? I’ve gotten connected with some great North End kids over the past year. How do I get some of them out to the cabin to share these beautiful blessings?

I’d want to have as many come as possible, but I know from experience that many kids making fewer visits just won’t have the relational effect that would lead to change. It would be like seeing your own kids only once in a while — and still expecting there to be deep trust and learning possible. It wouldn’t be as likely to happen.

So the next thought was that you’d have to choose one or two kids and invest deeply in them. It’s the only way to build a deep and trusting relationship — the kind where the benefits and learning flow in both directions.

But how would you choose which kid to start with? You’d just have to go with the connection that God puts in front of you and get started.

Since the days of bible camp and verse memorization I’ve always been a bit of a theology nerd, so that last thought made me think about how God chose to reveal His heart to a world that had gone wrong. I suppose He knew that shouting from the heavens would just make everyone scared, so he chose one people. And then His relationship with that people led to Jesus.

Jesus was the incarnation of God’s perfect goodness in a world that had rejected Love. Jesus came to teach us how to love, which only happens in relationship. He had to start building a deep, long-term relationship, and it had to start somewhere. So he started a relationship with a chosen people, and that relationship then multiplied into many, many more.

That’s why we connect with kids in the Bridge Drop-in, in small groups and in one-on-ones. That’s why we take a van load of kids to Gem Lake Bible Camp for a week during the summer months. That’s why we spent this COVID time figuring out ways to strengthen old relationships and build new ones. We want to learn how to love like Jesus does, and we learn that by finding Jesus in one another.