Street Church – On Fire Since 1993

Source: https://mcilwraith.fpecc.ca/2022/07/08/street-church-on-fire-since-1993/

From Left to right: Rev. John McILwraith, Pastor Christina Faith Dawson, and Pastor Kathy Stuart

All three of us featured in this picture pastored and sat on counsel @ Street Church over a stretch of 22 years. We where blessed in that space we knew to be The House of The Lord, many knew it to be Street Church, and if you go way back “The Hot Dog Church”

The current lead Pastor Christina Faith Dawson happened to re4ceive the salvation of God one day there. I was there, helping hold service. There was an alter call and she came up and I saw deliverance and salvation in one miraculous moment that day. I laughed for joy so hard I remember saying it truly is the joy of the lord because Christina was sobbing and stuttering and saying thank you to The Lord all at the same time, on the floor draped over kneeling upon alter and I was praying tongues in public which is not something I usually do, it was a loud and joyous event. I felt like I had to explain myself as to why I was rejoicing so much. I don’t know if she heard me or remembered me saying it, the deliverance was pretty intense and the groaning and the utterance coming from the holy spirit though her is something I remember and cherish. Oh the sweet release from years of trauma and bondage lifted, a life for ever changed, for the good, for his will, forever. Bless you sister.

Christina, Virgil, Kathy, Mike and still yet others have carried the torch and in this leg of the race, she and her supporting ministers kept a true and Holy fire burning in a sea of darkness, death, and despair the kind most I people I know across North America will not be able to comprehend.

Being where it was is divine, ironic, poetic and social justice, and many more things that are holy, noble, just, and loving and we all found each other there.

On the night of the fire I held Christina for a brief moment while she cried, in front if us firemen where battling the blaze, the red emergency lights of the firetrucks cast its red glow on us.

Virgil was pretty much speechless, all I could do was rub his back and look upon the fire with him, and Kathy too, speechless pretty much. I put out my hand and she took it and I held onto it for a few moments, our arms gently swinging together as we look on at the church we loved and cared for… There as well was Jenn and John Reilly, Herb Hulbert, Natalie Stevens, and Lloyd major. After a couple of hours I loaded some of us up in my car and we drove to McDonald’s to have a coffee / food to decompress and discuss what had just happened and to get away from all the smoke, it had given me a headache.

Some call us the “lower church” but we have the upper room.

This brings tears to my eyes as I write this because what a blessing it was / is to so many in need since 1993, and the blessing to have been able to still be standing with those who over the years where blessed to serve there and come to this intersection to live, to minister, and to walk in as much grace and victory we can as a witness to those who are dying that there is life beyond this one and even yet while they still yet “live”.

I am just now after a long time of not seeing it for what it is, and the blessing it is to have worked with our Alumni, in the spirit of Philadelphia, to do as we are asked, to perform Gods Chosen fast “To set the captives free” and do it with out price.

“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to
undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break
every yoke? Isaiah 58:6

Since 1995

Randy Barenttson Street Church Founder.

Legally “Street Church” is “The Downtown East Side Four Square Church.” See: foursquare.ca

See more about Randy here:

Vancouver Street Church | Pastor Randy Barnetson Has Passed On – In Memorial

@175 Hastings Street just off of Main Street, Street Church stood at the Gates of what the locals call the corner of “Pain and Wastings”.

Spiritually speaking the gates to Hell are found there by many. evil is not hard to find and evil makes it’s self easy to find. The oppressor and destroyer of souls by various means (poverty, pain, drugs, sex work etc.) certainly has a perch above these crossroads.

There is darkness and spiritual / human wickedness to be found there, amidst the trauma the broken spirits, broken souls, broken hearts, broken minds, broken dreams, broken pasts, and broken paths.

I received the baptism of fire @ Street Church back in February 2000. I had the holy spirit, I received the Lord as a child, alone “un churched”, and I knew him then but I was alone in it and drifted my own way most of the time. I called it the “Holy Haunting” He has never given up on me, never forsaken me and with out me realizing for a long time guiding and leading me to that point and still today.

In 1999 / 2000 I was at a crossroads when it came to my job, my way to expensive apartment, my lifestyle, and I started to pray and had God on my mind alot. I was about to loose all I had because I was giving up all I had.

I was approached by three people in conversation and street church or the “Hot Dog Church” was mentioned to me to check out. First night I went there I ended staying until past midnight in an all night prayer meeting.

After a month or so of serving there under Randy Barnetson… Fire! It came down and was poured over me, I felt my life be taken, I felt “myself” slipping away, I wanted to say to friends there call an ambulance the fist time it came upon me, but I could not say a thing, in retrospect it happened so suddenly. I was amazed more than anything. What came out of the fire was me after the first round of it. Refiners fire is what I am reminded of to seek and receive.

There is a rhyme and a reason for everything.

From now on I remember the fire that is and was @ Street Church. I thank The Lord for allowing me to see it this way. I know the difference between a Heavenly and Holy fire that ignites and cleanses a soul, that we are the church and no earthy fire can ever burn it (the Church) down, in my heart and in Heavens books Street Church lives for ever.

I thank God for these tears for it has reminded me yet again of my first Love which is our Father in Heaven. May the fire be always a blessing for us all, Amen!

Randy Barnetson is with John McIlwraith.· John McIlwraith is a Grad of First Nations Bible College and has been appointed as the Pastor in charge on Monday nights at Street Church. Pray for John. He has a wonderful way with people and a strong faith. We are blessed to receive him as God's gift to us!
“Randy Barnetson is with John McIlwraith. · John McIlwraith is a Grad of First Nations Bible College and has been appointed as the Pastor in charge on Monday nights at Street Church. Pray for John. He has a wonderful way with people and a strong faith. We are blessed to receive him as God’s gift to us!”

Service…

I do not know the actual number of hot Dogs where served at the hot dog church but it served I would venture to say at least 1.1 million. That does not include side dishes, meals, to go kits made up of every needful thing that could be given, as well as gifts given of the spirit and by the hands of men and women that simply showed up and found it a place to belong and call their home.

22 years on I still see people and remember I gave them one or many, many hotdogs, coffee, water etc. over the years, at street church, The Blue Bus, The Free Store, Potters Place mission, Out reach ministry. etc.

On the day I came to learn that Randy had passed on, I went to the church. Outside there where some old friends, brothers and sisters in the Lord. Kathy Stuart was there and she held me as I sobbed, I mean I sobbed so hard I was convulsing. After spending some time with those that where there I said I have to got to Costco. I was at about the Stadium Sky Train entrance located on Pacific Blvd. and some one behind me said “can you buy me a hot dog”.

I knew it was some one taller than me as the voice was behind and above me. I turn around to see a native guy. I started going through my pockets looking for some money. I did not have any one me and I said the man sorry I have no cash on me, God bless you. So I started to walk towards the Costco again , and then it hit me hey I have a debit card, and what is up with this random guy asking me for a hot dog of all things out of the blue? So I turned around and at first I did not see the man. So I walked quickly down the block and around a corner and I saw the man. I said hey I can get you a hot dog, I have a debit card with me. So as we started to walk together I said I am sorry, I am kind of outta sorts, a friend of mine just passed away, I am still shaken up by it.

The fellow says to me he too he lost a friend. What he said in specific I will keep private but what I can tell you it was something that I was suppose to hear, it related to my past and I then came to think that I was visited by an angle and was entertaining them unaware at first.

Back to service…

The first time I served (in a significant stretch of time) started in January / February of 2000. We used to serve coffee and toast in the mornings as well as dinner at night including providing the church for over night shelter to the homeless. We had a toaster that was a conveyor belt type. I remember pumping out dozens of loaves of toasted bread, I also remember the absolute mess of butter, peanut butter and jam, coffee, coffee creamer, sugar and juice all over the counters and the floors. We where kept busy that is for sure.

I was part of a ministry of young people and what we called ourselves was “WingNut Ministries”. I remember Daniel Whitting Stall opened up a bank account for it @ a CIBC out in Langley. When the debit card came in the mail he showed us the card and what the name on the card was. CIBC made a typo… The name on the card said Daniel “Shittingstall” LOL.

“WingNut Ministries” ran some thing called the “Blue Bus”. It was an old huge school bus painted blue. Randy Barnettson allowed us to park it on the Bible College dorms back lot. We rented the small store next door and used it as a wharehouse for food. Fred Myer the grocery chain in the states used to a couple times of year with a semi truck with a 40 foot container full of food.

Randy allowed me / us to take what we needed to put on a meal for mainly street youth on Granville Street. I did a good portion of the cooking. We had these huge metal pots the kind the army and prisons use to prepare meals. I would go through the shelves and pick out canned items to make what I called Chili or Stew that we put on rice. We used the stove at Street Church to make the rice and the chili. The pot was so big that I had to use all for burners and a sawed off wooden boat paddle looking spoon to stir it, and it took two or three guys to get it down the stairs and up into the back of the bus.

I also helped out with what Randy called “The Free Store”. We would welcome mostly single mothers to come into the store and pick up grocery items. The kids… I remember some of them delighted to see that Mom had picked up some Name brand Cereal for them. Not sure if any one of them noticed or cared that there was no french language labeling on them as it had all come from Fred Myer’s state side (Washington Sate). . Randy / us, we never gave anything in exchange for money or at any price.

I remember the moping, the bread runs, the unscripted unfolding of every day I was there and how everything all worked out and we always had enough of everything and when we did not @ the last moment who and what was needed just showed up, some way, some how. I used to (and still do to some extent) know and say we / I / this / needs this and this. I have faith for it so there was no question what ever was needed, it will come or work out, but the time, my anxiousness…

I used to say with relief, and amazement and a hint of exasperation “If it where not for the last minute things will not get done with God”. I know longer say or think that. I remember and will not forget I heard the Holy Spirit minister to me and I received this message: “There is never the last moment with God there is only perfect timing” It was one of the clearest things at that time I had heard from the Holy Ghost.

I just got the good goose bumps wiring this. Praise The Lord.

Those early experiences showed me that I was living and operating on wings and prayers.

The bible college dorm/s.

I also remember fondly the bible college dorm located at a old house on Hastings. The first one called “Genesis House” was the guys dormitory. We also It housed (in part) the bible college’s reference and book library. I remember the day we moved the library to the church as well. Sadly those works and I believe college records where lost in the fire.

At around the same time Street Church secured a second dormitory for the women attendant bible college. The House was named “Exodus House”. The house was lost to us in of all things a fire…

Part of the History of The Four Square Church was lost in the building fire (July 6th 2022) and that is a 1920’s-1930’s erra hand crafted pulpit used by Aimee Semple Macphersons, the founder of Foursquare.

What remains and continues on in love and service with me today.

Lloyd Major who graduated First Nations Bible College who I am happy to say is a licensed minister with us (FPECC) as well Jennifer Allan-Riley and her Husband John who served as assistants to Randy up until the day he passed.

These three are ordained ministers with FPECC.CA – The church that I am now leading with Bishop Daniel Debney. I am happy to see in them what The Lord and What Randy saw in them. God is good.

They can be seen in the following archived video by First Peoples Voices of a Tribute To Randy aired nationally in honour and in memorial of Randy Barnettson, serving and ministered in street church along side founder Randy Barnettson over many years and during his last days here with us @ Street Church.

More about Street Church’s founder:

Pastor Randy was saved during the Jesus People movement. He went to Bible college and was the youngest to graduate. He Pastored all over British Columbia, on the Reserves and that’s where he gained a heart for First Peoples. Moving to Vancouver, Randy had a disturbing wake up call one morning – a woman had overdosed and was left dead in front of his bus. He heard God speak to him to start a church for those struggling with drugs and homelessness.

https://static.wixstatic.com/media/0c5881_1597cd2bfce64482937e16b528698117~mv2.jpg/v1/crop/x_167,y_0,w_443,h_543/fill/w_348,h_427,al_c,q_80,usm_0.66_1.00_0.01,enc_auto/143426250_423127902082674_23156944041732.jpg

“To Free the Captives
Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to
undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break
every yoke? Isaiah 58:6

God’s Chosen Fast: A Spiritual and Practical Guide to Fasting

By Arthur Wallis

“In the day of your fast you . . . oppress all your workers” (or “exact all your labours,” KJV), God declared through Isaiah (58:3). Years later Christ said of the scribes and Pharisees, “They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders” (Matt.23:4), and this despite the fact that they were punctilious in the observance of their weekly fasts.

In this wonderful verse which is the theme of our chapter, God
reveals through Isaiah that the nature of the fast that He has chosen is the very opposite. It is not to bring men into bondage but to loose them from it; not to be an instrument of oppression but of liberation. If this word does not have a literal application for us who live in lands where there is little to be seen of the grosser forms of social injustice, it surely has an application in the spiritual realm.

Men are bound, not with steel chains or iron fetters, but with the invisible shackles of evil. They fight oppression which is not social but spiritual, even satanic.”

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I am going to be hosting a Sunday night believers service for all those who want to come and gather in prayer, to check in and hold Street Church up. Bring your doubts, bring your tears bring your fears as well as well as your love and heart for Street Church’s Community. Vancouver has just had a great loss, as a DTES body of believers and ministers the grief is real, there is no shame or condemnation so please come. Let us not be scattered but come together seek the will of The lord for the future together.

Worship Leaders bring your harps :-), We will have coffee and tea etc.

Where:

The Listening Post @ 382 Main Street Vancouver.
Sunday July 10th, 2022 @ 6:30 PM.