the story of a mission

"Let's be poor people helping poor people."

"Through the work of this ministry the Holy Spirit is constantly moving in me, helping me to grow as a Christian, inviting me to become more and more like Jesus. Not just with every passing day but with every passing interaction and circumstance that happens out here."

Aaron Cranton
Ministry Lead
Aaron Cranton, missionary with the Old Strathcona Street Mission.

"Thank you for allowing me to walk alongside of you today in Old Strathcona. It was so meaningful to me to see Christ working thru you to the folks we encountered and met through your ministry. Your ministry is of tremendous value to these individuals who struggle with addiction, mental and other illnesses. Seeing firsthand a drug-induced psychotic episode was quite unsettling for me. It was good to be able to walk, reflect, and pray about the day when I returned home. May I say that what you do espouses what our church stands for:
Know Jesus, Walk with Jesus, Share Jesus!
God Bless!

Terwillegar Community Church in Edmonton, Alberta.
Terwillegar Community Church
An antique photo of the Old Strathcona neighborhood in Edmonton, Alberta.

History of The Old Strathcona Street Mission


How Jesus Taught Us To Participate In God's Acts Of Compassion By Practicing Mutually Vulnerable Relationships

written by Aaron Cranton, ministry lead

"I moved from London, Ontario to Edmonton January 1, 2012 and set about preparing the way for my wife Wanda and our son Kip to join me at the beginning of August that year.

My business partner and I had shut down our business that we had faithfully put ourselves into for more than five years and so my family and I were looking for a new start. Having heard about the economic opportunities that existed in Alberta we decided that we would take advantage of the oil boom and discover what Edmonton could offer us.

Living alone far from my family and everybody I knew, I spent that first cold, dark winter working at several jobs that didn’t interest me. At night I’d walk around the neighbourhood of Old Strathcona wondering if this was going to be the right move for us.

It was during these walks, particularly around Whyte Ave, that I began to take notice of the homeless people in the area. I suppose my feelings of loneliness from being isolated from my family and friends caused me to begin to sense what it meant to live homeless. Although there were people experiencing homelessness in London, I had never empathized with them. Homelessness means different things to people, but for me it meant living in isolation and distant from any healthy, meaningful relationships. Homelessness still means the same thing to me, however, since becoming a believer I also sense the disconnect with our Father in heaven that many of our homeless neighbours experience.

While participating in a course called Focus 3 a.k.a. Vantagepoint3 I gained knowledge of my spiritual gifts (mercy,service,teaching) and through what sort of ministry God was calling me to practice His gifts, my experiences, my joys and my hurts so I began working volunteer weekly at the drop in for homeless and marginalized people in Old Strathcona."

...keep reading!...

"We help people make the CHOICE to change their circumstances."

Aaron's Ministry Story, Cont'd

"After a couple of months I noticed something miraculous happening. God’s Spirit was showing me that He was using my time at the drop in far beyond the acts of service required in operating a drop in e.g. handing out socks, mitts and pouring coffee. My eyes were open to what Jesus’ presence in the interactions I was having with the men and women at the shelter. Holy Spirit drew my attention to what Jesus was doing: 1) through me to the person with whom I was interacting, 2) within community and equally importantly 3) in my own heart and into my own brokenness that He would and could heal if I asked Him.

This realization of God’s grace and mercy was transformative and foundational in the way that I viewed and practiced and continue to view and practice street ministry.

Indeed, I view ministry primarily as a loving response from the love that Jesus has first for me. I also view ministry as a way that Jesus calls all members of the ministry i.e., ministers and ministerees to encounter Him and participate in and receive His healing. In other words, ministering through Mutually Vulnerable Relationships. As our friends who are struggling with hopelessness enter into trusting relationships with myself, Dennis and the volunteers they often express a desire to change their circumstances. In other words, our friends begin to say “Yes!” to that question Jesus asks all of us all the time, “Do you want to get well?” John 5:1-15.

We frequently participate in breakthroughs through the Father’s love flowing within authentic community.

After two winters of volunteering, it became apparent to myself and Wanda, my wife, that God was calling me to full time ministry at the Mustard Seed drop in. I left my career in sales and marketing and worked for the Seed for more than a year.

During that time, I felt that I was being called to step away from the task-heavy duties of operating a drop in and instead minster to our homeless neighbours with a focus on spiritual, emotional and relational support. Furthermore, I sensed that God was calling me to meet our neighbours where they were most at physically – on the streets, in the parks and fields and in the alleys. Since Old Strathcona was the community where I lived, I felt that that was the community where I needed to focus the ministry.

And so, I left the Mustard Seed and began setting out every morning Monday through Friday relying on Holy Spirit to bring me together with those on the streets around Whyte Ave with whom God wanted to me to participate in His acts of compassion.

It was during this time that we invited a friend who I’d known for about a year to live in our home who was experiencing homelessness. Isaiah 58:7 ESV. He would be the first of many.

Until full ministry financial support was realized, God provided my share of the household finances through a position as a school bus monitor which required two hours early morning and again late evening leaving six hours a day to minister on the streets. Within nine months full financial support was reached, praise God, and thus I began my full-time commitment to the ministry God created in Old Strathcona.

After a month or so of ministering, I began feeling uncomfortable with ministering without a spiritual covering and not being formally accountable to anybody. So, from an affirmation by Wanda, I approached the pastors and leadership at Strathcona Baptist Church to participate with the street ministry by bringing the organization church together with the mission. We set up an advisory board made up of members of several churches to oversee the ministry and advise on issues.

A few years later Dennis Fruck joined the ministry as a full-time missionary.

Five years later in became apparent that to expand the ministry in the way that we sensed God was calling it was necessary to become our own entity (therefore to incorporate as a non-profit), obtain more space, and to seek stronger partnerships with local churches.

The street mission now operates as a non-profit in a continually deepening partnership with Knox Evangelical Free Church in Old Strathcona"

"As missionaries, our participation in the street mission contributes to our own transformation into the image of Christ. Guided by the Holy Spirit, throughout the day we take moments for reflection. We reflect on the interactions that we’ve had with our homeless neighbours and ask Holy Spirit to show us where Jesus wants to work in our own brokenness."

Dennis Fruck, missionary with the Old Strathcona Street Mission.
Dennis Fruck
Ministry Co-Lead

"It was hard to call you. It is hard to change. Gazebos and back alleys can become oddly comfortable. But, you helped me even though you didn't have to. You treated me with respect and as a sister in Christ. You gave me practical resources, but it was about so much more....the love of Christ. You were His hands and feet to me. Today I live a life free from drugs and alcohol. I've had a roof over my head for 2 years. You helped me to understand God's grace by showing me grace. You, and so many others, became a living example of God's love for me. Thank you! Blessings on your ministry!"

a friend with lived experience
Knox Evangelical Church in Old Strathcona, Edmonton, Alberta.
Knox Evangelical Church, Old Strathcona