Tānsi Yá’át’ééh Boozhoo

December 13, 2021 | 2 minute read
Howard Jolly

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The First Nations Community Church in Winnipeg is small, our membership is approximately 30 people, and on a Sunday service we average about 60 attendees. I have been the pastor since 2006.

When COVID-19 restrictions impacted our church, we turned to Facebook. Our first livestream service in March 2020 went very well for something quite different from our norm.

Later that afternoon I was surprised to see that the video service had over 3,000 views on Facebook! My desire is to impact people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and this technology opened my eyes to how we could impact more people. Since then we have been faithfully livestreaming our service online.

Not only have I seen our reach expand in numbers but also to greater areas around the world. Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15 NKJV). Now, the world is coming to us—people greet us from overseas, Alaska, New Mexico, Arizona, Montana, Ohio, and all over Canada.

It is important for me that people know that our church is Indigenous in nature. My first greeting is hello in Cree, Navajo, and Ojibwe.

Our services usually start with a Cree song. Our people have been negatively impacted by how the past government tried to rid us of our language and culture by striving to absorb us into a dominant society. Hearing worship songs and hymns in our tongue is healing and affirms the resilience of our people.

During the pandemic, my family endured the loss of both of my wife’s parents. I share openly about our grief and struggles with our audience who prays for us. We sing songs that express our pain as music invites and gives people opportunity and freedom to cry in their grief. This strengthens people and we are amazed by their devotion to Christ and encouraged at seeing God’s faithfulness through their lives.

My people comprehend truth better through story. On one livestream, I shared about how Christ transformed my dad from being a violent, physically abusive husband and dad in his alcoholism to becoming a gentle loving follower of Jesus. When my dad gave his heart to Jesus, he turned from being a curse to being a hero in my eyes. My dad is the main reason I gave my heart to Jesus. It was difficult talking about his destructive behaviour before Christ, but I wanted to show the transforming power of the Gospel through his story. During the service, a listener affirmed the Gospel as true and desired a relationship with Jesus, and another listener prayed for that person.

The Psalmist says, “…all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God!” (Psalm 139:16b-17). God loves us. God has our good in mind in all things. God has ordained all our days. The peace that this reality promises is the peace that the world desperately needs. May that peace be seen in God’s children and may it draw others to Jesus.

This is an article from our Fall 2021 edition of Alliance Connection. Read the full copy here.

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Howard Jolly

Howard Jolly is Cree from Waskaganish, Quebec. He lives with his wife Karen in Niverville, Manitoba and their children Joel and Tobi live in Winnipeg. He is Executive Director of the First Nations Alliance Churches of Canada. He has pastored the First Nations Community Church in Winnipeg for 15 years. He has his B.A. in Church ministries and an M. Div. from Providence University and Providence Theological Seminary. His passion is for the dignity of his people to rise and be honoured.

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Comments

  1. Can you give us the Facebook link please. So that I could invite our First Nation friends in Longlac to the FB live stream.

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