Leise is a volunteer Rapid Response Team chaplain who served in La Loche. Afterward, while speaking to BGEAC staff in Calgary during one of our regular morning chapel times, she described some of her experience in La Loche. We’ve changed the name of the woman in Leise’s story to protect the woman’s privacy.
I want to share a story that happened in La Loche. Anita (another chaplain) and I were on our way up to La Loche seven days after (fellow chaplains) Merle and Hank had already been up there. So they had done a lot of ground work ahead of us and they had already prepared a list of several women that we could possibly minister to.
So within a short time of our arrival, one of those ladies came to meet us at the church. Her name is Melanie. We spent the first few hours getting to know each other, sharing stories of how Christ was working in our lives. She even helped us prepare our supper together. She seemed very upbeat; happy.
After our meal the atmosphere changed. Melanie began to break down and share her grief with us. In moments she was weeping uncontrollably. Her pain was so deep. Anita and I sat on either side of her and placed a hand on her back and listened. I silently prayed for God to help her and to give us the words to comfort her when it was our time to speak. At that moment, I felt God impress upon me, “This is why you’re here.”
Melanie continued to question and state her deep concerns. She was worried about her daughter. How could she continue to protect her from this place? She was worried about her family. She was worried about the innocent children. She was worried that something like this would happen again. The shootings. She wanted to leave this horrible place. She was angry at the people in the community.
What was it going to take for them to change? The drug abuse. The alcohol abuse. How many more young people will be lost to suicide? She was fearful and angry about a lot of things. This went on for some time. She was exhausted. Then she settled. And then came silence. It was our time to speak.
We gently reminded her of the Hope there is in Jesus. Hope for her. Hope for her family. And hope for her community. He loves them all. We continued to encourage and support her in prayer and words.
What an absolutely humbling experience this was. Before she left, Melanie gave us both a big squeezing bear hug and told us that she was so glad that God sent Billy Graham to La Loche and that she didn’t know how she would have made it through otherwise.
We saw her several times after that and she was always so thankful. She would give us that big squeezing bear hug and repeat that she was so grateful that God sent Billy Graham to La Loche and she didn’t know how she would have made it through otherwise. Thank you.
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