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Free to Live, Laugh and Love
Steeped in drugs and alcohol, and entertaining thoughts of suicide, Sue couldn't imagine a life free of pain. But God had a plan for her that would change everything.

"I want you to set up a table and chair on the sidewalk with a sign that says, Need Prayer?"

Free to Live, Laugh and Love
Charlie and Sue enjoy their freedom in Christ.

The year was 2002 and Sue Kopczyk knew it was the Lord speaking to her heart! But a chair on the sidewalk with a sign reading, Need Prayer? Sue got on her knees. She really wanted to obey God, but this seemed crazy.

Until 1983, God was a stranger to Sue. He wasn't even close to being part of her world. When an employer gave her tickets to a 100 Huntley Street rally, she simply passed them off to her mother and her grandfather. They attended, got saved and began to pray for Sue and her husband Charlie.

At the time, Sue and Charlie were addicted to drugs and alcohol, caught in the stranglehold of desperation. Because Sue's childhood home had been destroyed by alcoholism, she vowed never to drink. But there she was, trapped in her old reality. So much for a child's dream of a better life.

One day, Sue was sitting with a glass of hard liquor watching 100 HuntleyStreet. Although all the task of being "born again" was confusing to her, one thing was very clear—these people were different. They could laugh with the freedom and innocence of children. How Sue longed to be able to laugh with such joy. Her heart had become hard, like a stone. Yet, day after day, the Holy Spirit gently wooed her. Although Sue didn't fully understand what she was hearing, she knew it was something she wanted for her life.

The time came when Sue finally hit bottom. She wanted to die. Life was too hard. Out of the blackness she cried, "God, if you are really there, please help me because I can't do this on my own." From the depths of her soul, she repented and reached out to ask Jesus into her life. That's when she had a powerful, "Damascus-road" experience of instant deliverance from both drugs and alcohol! She was free! Child-like laughter bubbled up from the joy in her heart.

The incredible change in Sue did not escape Charlie's notice. For about a month he wondered what was going on with his wife. There was no doubting she was radically changed. In a drunken stupor one day, Charlie said "Okay," when Sue invited him to ask Jesus into his life. In the blink of an eye, he was stone-cold sober. The craving and addiction to drugs and alcohol were gone—instantly!

When Charlie's biker friends found out what happened to him, they thought he had been sucked in by some weird cult and literally threatened to "knock some sense into him." Gradually, realizing that the changes were real, they lost interest in Charlie. That was about the time God moved him and Sue to a different neighbourhood. However, they were not yet ready for the amazing outreach the Lord had planned for them.

It took almost 20 years of maturing before God spoke to Sue about the Need Prayer? sign. Increasingly, concern for the homeless and the needy had been growing in her heart. Remembering her former thoughts of suicide in desperate times, Sue's heart burned with the realization that God created everyone for a special purpose. Rather than asking herself why she should try to do anything about it, she began asking, "Why not?" This question was the seed that eventually grew into Why Not City Missions.

Charlie shared Sue's longing to encourage hurting souls find God's path for them. But how were they to do it? Although the direction the Lord provided seemed simple enough, they were hesitant about taking the first step. That's when they heard about a Christian man who felt impressed to make an eight-foot cross and carry it around the city of Brantford, Ontario. Seizing the opportunity to follow up with ministry, Sue and Charlie joined him and his wife by setting up their table with the sign. They began to hand out coffee and Joe Louis® treats, asking people if they could pray with them.

… affirmation and encouragement became tangible.

At first, individuals simply walked by, looking askance at these strange people. After a period of faithfulness to God's appointed task, trust began to grow in the passers-by. People started to take notice of the couple's commitment and sincerity, to the point that they would stop and chat. Charlie began to barbeque hot dogs. Relationships developed. Soon volunteers were assisting with the outreach.

Sue and Charlie then discovered the "hidden homeless," people who do not have homes of their own but sleep here and there on available couches in the homes of people they know. Gradually, the ministry began to focus on troubled youth, many of whom struggle with drug use.

As Why Not City Missions took shape, Sue and Charlie opened a restaurant—Downtown Java and Bistro—where young people could volunteer to complete their community service and probationary requirements or gain work experience for their resumes. There were also evening programs where professionals would teach skills such as photography, dance, drama and art. By displaying the kids' artwork in the restaurant and supplying a venue for them to try out their performing skills, affirmation and encouragement became tangible.

With the volunteer force having risen to almost 70 enthusiastic workers, the team began to provide free full-course meals on Monday nights. Thursdays became "Hot Diggity Dog" nights with barbequed hot dogs, served up with the love of Jesus. Sue and Charlie were amazed at the hunger of the youth for the things of the Lord.

During the summer (2005) they began a one-hour Saturday radio program called Power Blast, with "youth reaching out to youth" (93.9 FM in Brantford). The ministry is also partnering with other local organizations, such as Stop Bullying Now and The Pregnancy and Resource Centre.

Having proven themselves to the troubled teens of the area, Sue and Charlie and their dynamic team of volunteers now find themselves fulfilling the roles of moms and dads to many young people from dysfunctional homes. They dream of one day having a working farm where they can house homeless teens far from the influence of drugs and crime, and of launching a television outreach to youth.

Who knows how far God will expand the plan He has for Why Not City Missions? For Sue and Charlie—having been radically saved and set free themselves—nothing is more rewarding than being part of what God is powerfully doing today in the lives of those who so desperately need Him. And it all began with simple obedience to His direction for a sidewalk chair and prayer!

Diane Roblin-Lee is the author of numerous books, including Into all the World: the History of The Peoples Church and can be visited at www.praise.on.ca.

Originally published in Crossroads Compass, August 2005.
http://www.crossroads.ca/index.html

 

 
 
 
 

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