Christ's love in action
— Written by Annik LaRoche Bradford for Biblica Canada |
Twenty years ago, Paul Racine would have never guessed that his interest in football would lead him into a decades-long ministry, working with Cree communities in Northern Quebec.
It was Paul’s friend and former pro football player, Gordon Hudson, who ignited his interest when they partnered on a football camp for youth in underserved communities in the James Bay area beginning in 2003. Over the years, many sports have been featured at the youth camps—first, it was football, then basketball, hockey and more—but Paul’s passion never wavered. What started as a series of one-off summer projects turned into full-time, year-round ministry around 2009. This was facilitated by Doulos Ministries that Paul started in 1995. The non-profit’s mission is focused on coaching and mentoring youth as well as providing leadership training for local leaders who are investing in the communities’ teens and young adults.
With more than 20 years spent working in 9 First Nations communities, Paul and his team have built strong, trusting relationships with Cree members of all ages. Paul is proud to share that, “I’ve been around long enough now to have seen some of the youth grow up from age 9 to college and planning to come back to serve their community once they complete their schooling. It’s been truly amazing to see them progress and grow into active members of their community.”
In 2020, along with the rest of the world, COVID brought the work of Doulos Ministries to a screeching halt, with the Cree communities closing their doors to any non-residents for the better part of the year. Unable to visit in person, Paul continued to work remotely from his home office in Ottawa, communicating with his team virtually and investing care and attention into maintaining his relationships, even from a distance. He was finally able to return to Mistissini in 2022, after an absence of almost 3 years, and the reunion was a joyful one! Summer camps started up again, as did leadership programs.
Now comfortably into 2023, Paul and his team are busier than ever investing into a Bible study and support group for Cree students pursuing post-secondary education in Ottawa. The holistically minded program helps students discover God’s love for them and his plan for their life, in addition to learning skills such as financial planning, meal planning, and study habits to help them success while in school and after. Paul is also working on a program called Implementa, a leadership training program for youth, which will see local leaders mentor members of their community and grow into proud, healthy and God-loving adults. They have regular training sessions with Cree Leaders putting this program into practice with the youth in Mistissini, many of whom are learning about Jesus and the Gospel for the first time.
Throughout all of the changes and (sometimes slow) progress, Paul is adamant: “Relationships are everything. There are no shortcuts when it comes to building trust. It takes time. But God is good! Things are moving, and leaders are stepping up. We are thankful and excited for what is to come!”
One hundred percent of Biblica’s contribution to Doulos Ministries is invested into the organization’s various programs and efforts.
Please join Paul and his team in prayer as they prepare for this summer’s endeavours, train local leaders and run a one-year pilot project which will then be turned over for community ownership.
If you want to contribute to Doulos Ministries’ impact, please consider donating to Biblica Canada as we continue to partner with the team at Doulos.