Three years ago, it felt uncertain as to when we might be able once again to gather and sing along with a thousand other believers. But earlier this month, we did just that at Redeemer University’s Hamilton campus with internationally acclaimed and Ireland-hailing band Rend Collective – and what a fun night of connection it was!

Focus on the Family Canada was the feature sponsor for this event, which was held in connection with Redeemer University’s annual school tour and recruitment program. Demand for tickets was so strong that the university added a second concert the following night as well. Both nights were sold-out events.

“People were excited to be there,” says Tracy Van Huizen, our events and community engagement manager at Focus Canada. “It really encompassed people of all ages, and a lot of students attended with their parents and grandparents.”

People saw Focus Canada staff engage attendees by handing out glow sticks which were popular with all ages and lit up the venue. “This event was a great opportunity to let people know that we do have a presence in Canada, and support activities that allow Canadian families to get together and celebrate their Christian faith,” says Paul Elliott, our director of development in Ontario and Eastern Canada. “We were there asking attendees for nothing other than to have a great time and keep us in mind if and when they have needs, and we reminded them that we will come alongside them with support and encouragement. We also were there to share in the joy of the event! The band was fun and engaging, but never lost sight of the fact that they were there to point people to Jesus through worship.”

Redeemer University intentionally focuses on supporting their student body after they graduate; part of this is done in collaboration with other ministries, which shows a genuine interest for the needs of their immediate and extended community. Focus Canada was thrilled to have a presence at the concert and hand out free biblically based resources to audience members. “I think people were excited to see us,” Tracy adds, “and those who did not know much about Focus Canada were curious about the ministry.”

Attendees were especially drawn to the free Focus Canada booklets on challenging topics like depression, anxiety, unresolved trauma, and more. “We shared resources with many who were in need or knew others who could use the resources,” Tracy says. “A lot of people identified with the Adventures in Odyssey banner on display and were reminiscing about that. They listened as kids, and now that they’re parents, their kids are listening to Odyssey, but they are now looking to Focus Canada for different areas of support. Those transition years are important in keeping that connection, and we are trying to be there for people in every stage of life.”

Paul adds that attendees saw Focus on the Family Canada as a steadfast and trusted resource in our area of ministry. “I sensed that the attendees respected the fact that we haven’t wavered from our guiding principles,” he adds. “We are there to remind them that God’s design for the family is at once perfect, wonderful, exciting, challenging and rewarding, and that when situations arise to try and derail that reality, we are there to help point them back in the right direction.”

Focus Canada looks forward to more opportunities to partner with universities, as well as like-minded ministries and organizations. “Personally, I’ve always been rejuvenated and motivated by close proximity with believers,” Paul says. “Whether that’s a large group of people at a concert or a small gathering of believers, being surrounded by people like-minded in their love for Jesus and their desire to further his Kingdom helps me thrive as a Christian. It’s important for us to remember to have fun and celebrate all the wonderful things that come from a relationship with Christ. And if this impacts a person’s interest in our ministry, that’s great too.”