In January 2004, during a raging snowstorm in Metro Vancouver, MaryAnne Connor tossed and turned in bed at night, unable to fall asleep. She had one question plaguing her mind: “Where are they sleeping tonight?” She couldn’t shake the call God had put on her heart – to care for the vulnerable men and women living on the streets of our community.
She soon found herself driving to a small street church in Whalley, called “The Gentle Shepherd.” She asked that the pastor please open the door to his church that very night so people could come inside and have a safe, warm place to sleep.
“You do it,” Pastor Steen said, dropping a small brass key into MaryAnne’s hand.
That night, MaryAnne found herself serving peanut butter sandwiches and handing out blankets. The little street church was crammed with cold, hungry people clinging to whatever warmth they could find. That night would be the first of many within the walls of the Gentle Shepherd.
From those first nights spent in the Gentle Shepherd as an emergency weather shelter, NightShift Street Ministries was born. Since then, NightShift has consistently provided not only a hot meal and sandwiches, but love, hope and purpose to people caught in the cycle of poverty and addiction.
NightShift is today known as the Christian organization on the front lines of outreach and care for the vulnerable, addicted and homeless people in Surrey and Langley. A registered not-for-profit society, NightShift now has a volunteer base of thousands, countless donors and supporters… and none of this would be possible without those first humble nights behind the walls at the Gentle Shepherd Church.