Temperatures may be dipping but one group of volunteers are making sure people are not left out in the cold.

Encounter Life Ministries's pastor, Marty McLean, says two of their church members, David and Belinda Harper, have been spending their nights giving warm clothing, hot meals, and other much-needed supports.

"They came to us one evening and were mentions they would like to do more. I encouraged them and said 'hey David you have to let people know." McLean says. "I know some people are wary of doing that, thinking they will get criticized, for sharing what they are doing but I think it is important for people to see the efforts and also the needs that are there.

Dave and Belinda HarperDavid and Belinda Harper have been silently supporting Winnipeg's homeless population. (Encounter Life Ministries/Facebook)

Within 24 hours, the couple gained strong support. Raymond Ducharme is one of the people who recently joined the team. He says on Sunday morning he was finishing his devotionals and opened Facebook, seeing David's post. Ducharme has been praying since December about how he could help, and this was the answer.

"I feel I am being called to help. I prayed about it for a while now, and I feel like it is God answering a prayer."

Ducharme says his family, who are also strong Christians, was quick to help. The Ducharme family combined funds to donate 10 kits with a sleeping bag, bannock, and other items.

Ducharme wants as many people as possible to know what the group is doing and is inviting people to help.

"The more help we can get and the more the message can be relayed, the better."

Joining the team, McLean, his wife Rose and others are got to work.

"I actually went to bed probably about 2 o'clock this morning but just before laid my head down I said a prayer for the homeless that are out there because you know, it crosses my mind that here is me, I can lay down in my warm bed but there are people out there that we just fed and clothed that are in these dire situations."

The pastor prays, saying "Lord we can do more." He is praying for more people to heed the call and help. 

One of the things warming the pastor's heart is seeing they are not alone in their mission. He says when their large group went out, they found they were not alone; a group of women from Selkirk were doing the same thing.

McLean says they are taking COVID-19 precautions and travel in a group of vehicles.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin says those going out should stick to the fundamentals, something the group has been trying hard to do.

"They might look different in every situation, but the fundamentals can apply everywhere we are."

The extra precautions are worth it for the pastor, who seeings how impactful the generous gifts are.

The pastor says when they meet people in the shelters, any doubts about going out are diminished.


How to help

McLean says there is a massive difference between seeing people on a Facebook post about what they are doing and being the hands and feet by helping others. 

"For us to just be the church, that does something to yourself too. Your heart just becomes so full and doing just what the Lord is wanting us to do."

People hoping to help can do so by donating goods or funds to the mission. 

"We will be your hands and feet."

Prayers of warmth and protection for people on the street as well as those delivering the goods are encouraged by the pastor. Ducharme is organizing a GoFundMe so they can help more people.

"If your heart desires, then you know, send a few dollars or send warm clothes. Anything helps. We are trying to reach as many people as we can because it is so cold out," Ducharme says. "I want to spread the message to, to be able to share with people what God can do."

People can reach McLean by messaging Encounter Life Ministries's Facebook page or emailing info@encounterlifeministries.com.