Jun16WedJune 16, 2021
Over the past couple months we have shared some updates with you that I want to reaffirm and explore more with you today. I understand many of you may have questions or concerns about this new season Together (previously known as the Manor Ministries) has entered into and I would love to provide answers to those areas.
First I want to take the time to appreciate the incredible faith and leadership Jack and Sharon Ninaber have carried over the 6 plus years. They have faithfully abided in the presence of God and followed His voice into the unknown. As many of you know, this incredible ministry started as a passionate search for more of the Holy Spirit. After being disillusioned with the status quo of traditional church, Jack and Sharon opened up there home to what was called “Friday Night Feasts”, with an open invitation to those hungry for a deeper connection and experience with our Triune God. This led to an overflow of attendees and soon the search began for a larger space. After a joke regarding The Manor being a possibility, God lead Jack and Sharon right to the owner and here we are 6 years later celebrating a beautiful history of Church at the Manor. Yet, it did not stop at Church. Jack and Sharon developed so much more. We have labelled this as a ministry, but ministry denotes a job and requires a description with limits. I can assure you Jack and Sharon maintained friendships that were limitless. This was not a ministry. This was a family. This is one of transformative lessons I have had the honor to learn from Jack and Sharon. One evening I was blessed to go to the Manor Motel on a Christmas outreach, and witness the incredible relationships both have formed over the years. The residents shared stories with me about how Jack and Sharon took them to get groceries, welcomed them in their homes, offered them paying jobs at Jacks roofing company, painted their rooms and so much more. One couple from the Manor Church was married in their backyard. Sharon expressed her concern for one of the wheel bound residents, stating if he ever needed to go out to not call a cab but to call her instead and she would drive him. The Manor Ministries was built through the model of Christ’s sacrificial love. Philipians 2:5-10 “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death- even death on a cross!” Jack and Sharon modelled to all of us the beauty of obedience and sacrificial love. Although they did not plan to end up running a church within a strip club, they obeyed the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and invited to the table those who have not been given a placed within traditional church contexts. Yet they knew, just as we know, that God loves them and longs for them to have their seat at His table! In obedience they sacrificed their questions, fears, time and money to create this family we called Church at the Manor.
As we transition into the new, we have an incredible foundation on which God is building. Matthew 16:18 “…and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” So much of what Jack and Sharon started remains. The new season and our future will be birthed from the place of obedience to God and sacrificial love. Jack and Sharon felt confirmation from the Lord that it was time to close the church at the Manor. Yet, recognized this wasn’t the end, but the birthplace of something new. Over the past 6 months, they have felt Gods call into new directions and have excitedly explored these new opportunities. I have been blessed to have continued in mentorship with them, and this lifelong connection will continue to be expressed.
When Jack and Sharon asked me to come on board of the leadership of the Manor team 6 months ago, I was terrified. My lack of education left me feeling completely inadequate. Through careful consideration and prayer, I felt the Lord remind me that I have Him and He is more than enough. Through obedience I walked into this new role embraced in the sacrificial love of Jack and Sharon. I have been blessed to have mentors that saw qualities in me that I did not see and took the time to invest into those qualities. Through Jack and Sharon I was connected to The Christian and Missionary Alliance, who have been a continual support to the Manor Ministries. The Manor Ministries started through what is known as a New Venture, which is a new expression of Church. The Christian and Missionary Alliance formed this initiative to reach those who have not been reached or would not attend a traditional church. As such, the Manor fit in perfectly. “Our desire is to see new leaders, in new places, leading new church across Canada to reach new people with the gospel of Jesus.”(www.newventurescanada.com/about). Through the recognition of the new season God has brought us into, new ventures agreed to take me on as an apprentice.
Below you can find a link to my profile
So what does this all mean for The Manor Ministries and for you.
Well if you have been reading our previous blog posts, you are aware we have changed our name to Together. But why Together? Well originally, I started as a team member and then moved to team lead for our Thursday night outreaches into the strip club, a team of women who would go in and minister to the dancers. Our name was To.Get.Her, but something didn’t check right in my spirit. To get her was a beautiful vision of walking with the women in the club towards Christ and the freedom he has in store for them. But I found it could easily be misconstrued as this notion that the women need saving and we are going in to get them and fix them. The family atmosphere Jack and Sharon created could be seen instead as an us verses them atmosphere. When I looked at the passion Jack and Sharon shared over the 5 years, I saw how they walked along side of every person they encountered in whatever needs they had. Whether it was a need for food, a job, housing, bible studies, connection, or more. They didn’t go get people. They connected and grew together with people. I decided then that people don’t need saving and we don’t need to fix them. They, just like everyone else in this world, have a place in their heart created for Jesus and Jesus alone. They have an eternity created for them to abide in the presence of God. They have a future full of the brightness of a relationship with the Lord. And they have the promise of the Holy Spirit who transforms hearts of stone to hearts of flesh. We get to walk on this journey with them. Together we share of the ever unfolding grace and mercy of God, we learn about what it means to be rooted in our identity as children of God, we grow in maturity in our faith, and we passionately pursue the Lord in all forms of worship and learning. We are together on our journey. All of us learning from one another. All of us broken vessels with the potential to be continually filled with the glory of God. So together became the name, the calling, and the mission. But the how, what, where, and when were the next questions.
Interestingly, we didn’t even consider Friday night feasts, when the team felt called by God back to the table. We recognized much of the success of the Manor Church came out of the community atmosphere that eating together before the church service provided. The lines became blurred around the table. It didn’t matter if you were a pastor, dancer, homeless, or evangelist. At the table we all became one, enjoying the food and conversations that developed from eating together. True communion and fellowship was found at the table. What God started through Friday night feasts, birthed into the Manor Church. Now God is bringing back to the table and we are awaiting what will be birthed from there.
When I think about the concept of Table I think about a time of eating together, enjoying good food, fellowship and communion. Recently the Lord spoke to me and took the word communion and split it in half. Commune. He highlighted the word “Commune” to me. Commune is defined as a group of people living together and sharing possessions and responsibilities. Just like the first churches in the Bible, they live together sharing in all things through obedience to Christ and sacrificial love. I can’t help but be so intrigued by this and wish to excitedly explore the concept of commune within the context of the Table.
Yet the table is much different than Friday night feasts. Covid makes it hard for us to be together, yet it inspires a new wave of creativity. In obedience we want to not rush into things but ask the Lord what His will is. We believe God has redemptive plans for the sex industry. We know the Manor has played a role in this and we believe God has a future for the Manor that is Kingdom oriented. Instead of being together in one place enjoying food and community we are inviting people to our online Table, and we are believing that from this time at the Table, more will be birthed, just as it did before through Friday night feasts. In excitement, it would be a mistake to share with you all the visions and dreams God has given me, because I believe in a leadership that is built around collective thought and allows for organic growth. I believe in the promises from Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”, and Proverbs 16:9 “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” One thing I do know for certain is this is the beginning of something new and exciting. One where the Table multiples and evolves. I have quoted this verse many times before “Behold I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19.
Here we are at the edge of the desert. With the end of the Manor Church and the Manor Ministries as we know it, one may see a desert. But the Lord is making a way. The Table brings us into a season of discernment. To gather members within the community with passion, education, experience, for those involved in the sex industry. It’s a time where the Table seeks the Lords direction through this wilderness and learn how God is bringing the rivers of reconciliation to a lost section of society. For now, the table is simply a discerning process of things to come. It is the starting point in a new chapter, founded on the Manor Ministries and the incredible work of Jack and Sharon Ninaber.
We are together.
We believe in obedience to the calling and direction of our triune God.
We operate in sacrificial love.
We develop Together in commune at the Table.
This is the starting point of thing to come.
We long for the move of God, not only within the Manor, but within the sex industry. We long for the purification power of the Holy Spirit, who transforms minds, body’s and souls. We long for the reunification of families, who have lost loved ones to the insidious nature of the sex industry. We long for the freedom of identities, misplaced in tiny boxes that that were not meant to contain the entirety of what it means to be as a child of God. We long for the reconciliation of the lost to a father who is passionately pursing his lost children in a world so broken, just like the story of the prodigal son. And we long for broken communities to be made whole through the sacrificial and unifying love found in the body of Christ.
As a new ventures apprentice, I am a registered worker and I will continue to work under the mentorship of The Christian and Missionary Alliance. I receive funding partially through their generosity and partially though yours. In this new season, I am working to connect with many local public figures, educators, advocates, and those within the sex industry to see what gaps are missing the light and love of God how while prayerfully seeking how Together can be a part of bridging those gaps. I am excited to facilitate The Table, creating a community where we seek Gods direction for the next season. I want to thank all our generous supporters who have continued to donate during this transition. A special thank you to Elora Road Church who has continued walk with us and believe in the Together team. Although we are transitioning, your prayers and financial support are a continued tool of empowerment, protection and encouragement.
If you are interested in taking part in The Table please reach out to our blog page and I would love to connect with you. If you would like to partner in prayer and or finances you can connect to the new ventures portal in the link provided above or message me on the blog page.
Over the course of the next month or two I will be working to redevelop our blog to fit the changes that have occurred and leave space for this incredible time of exploration and discernment. Please keep an eye out for an invitation to this space as well as our monthly updates and mail outs through mail chimp. I will be requesting to add previous members to our new newsletter as well as requesting to share the news and invite your friends!
Thank you to our incredible Manor Church Community that has continued connection throughout the pandemic and this transition.
Thank you to all our supporters who have continued to support us financially and with prayers and encouragement through this transition.
Last, but not least, thank you to Jack and Sharon Ninaber, who model what it means to be the ‘commune’ in community.