Street Outreach in Toronto: An Update from Creflo Dollar Global Missions

by CDM Staff | 18 Mar 2024

Note: The following article contains content that some readers may find distressing.


A man was there who had been sick for thirty-eight years. Jesus saw him lying there and knew the man had been sick a long time. Jesus said to him, ‘Would you like to be healed?’ The sick man said, ‘Sir, I have no one to put me in the pool when the water is moving. While I am coming, another one gets in first.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Get up! Pick up your bed and walk.’ At once the man was healed and picked up his bed and walked” (John 5:5-9, NLV).

Gerrick Denton, an IT consultant at the Creflo Dollar Ministries Canada office and at the International Affairs Department, recalled a homeless man he encountered some time ago: “He reclined on a ventilation grate to stay warm. He told me that he’d been living on the street for about fifteen years. For him, it was a lifestyle. And we prayed with him because he just didn’t see any other way to live.”

Homelessness in Toronto is a huge problem that’s only growing. In addition to a shortage of affordable housing, Canada recently accepted a large number of refugees. Various statistics suggest that anywhere from 7,000 to 10,000 people currently experience homelessness in Toronto.  In 2023, the city council declared homelessness an emergency.

Consequences of increased homelessness can be witnessed at a variety of times, most notably in the winter. Recent reporting outlines how, despite the fact that winter can begin in November and end in early April, a lack of shelters has led to around 200 people being turned away every night due to a lack of space. This is a crisis, as a lack of shelter has led to tent fires, amputation, and death. Various local news sources report that this issue has also led to an increased number of homeless people turning to medical facilities for shelter during inclement weather.

Creflo Dollar Global Missions has positioned itself to offer aid with its annual Mission Rescue Toronto Street Outreach. The purpose of this rescue mission is to help the homeless who are exposed to life-threatening, sub-zero, outdoor temperatures, and to minister the grace and love of Jesus. The outreach is triggered by a “cold alert” in Toronto. This information is used to warn people on the streets that it will be extremely cold and urge them to find shelter. When the temperature drops below 15° C, Creflo Dollar Global Missions is prepped for action. The team consists of three to four staff members; up to a dozen people are known to volunteer.

At last year’s Toronto Street Outreach, the temperature reached 11° F (-12° C), with a wind chill of 3° F (-16° C), and an alert sounded. The team loaded the ministry van with blankets, tarps, winter hats, gloves, neck and hand warmers, water, and a mini-book by Creflo Dollar. Per the standard of excellence and to represent the love of God, most everything given is new and all donated goods are of quality.

Per protocol, they drive up and down the streets looking for any homeless people lying on the frozen sidewalks or struggling to stay warm. The people they encounter most are often middle-aged men. Certain areas on the watchlist are usually populated by people who sleep on sidewalks. Fortunately, there are shelters that will search for people who need a room for the night, although they close at midnight. Guests aren’t allowed to leave the shelter for a certain period, for security reasons. “So once you’re in, you’re in,” stated Doug Whitehead, the managing director of the Canada office.

The first thing the team does when it identifies someone in need is to ask them if they’re okay. They check their health and well-being and, if necessary, contact emergency services. Fortunately, they have not had to do that thus far. The team also asks if they want to go to a shelter; if they decline, they offer supplies that they might need, which can include a sleeping bag or tarp. If the person is open to it, the team will offer to pray for them, share the gospel, and tell them about Creflo Dollar Ministries.

Last year’s mission lasted from 9:00 p.m. until midnight. The first person they met was a young man who had been turned away from several buildings in the area where he had tried to seek shelter. He’d lain his sleeping bag down on top of a heating vent and accepted water, a tarp, and prayers for his protection and safety. Another young man they encountered only accepted a bottle of water and prayer. Several other individuals accepted gloves, mittens, water, and prayer.

The CDM Canada team encountered over a dozen people in a variety of situations. Doug stated, “Some were sitting or sleeping on heating vents, others had small tents while others were wrapped up in blankets and sleeping bags. Wherever someone was open to talk to us, we asked about their comfort and welfare and offered them whatever help they were willing to accept from the resources that we had (i.e., blankets, tarps, hats, gloves, water, and neck warmers).” They also offered to pray for everyone they encountered; their prayers were for protection, safety, warmth, and that their lives would be directed according to God’s will.

Occasionally, CDM Canada will encounter the same people, but it’s very rare. As a result, staff and volunteers always give enough information for individuals to contact the ministry or organizations they’ve worked with. While there is no ongoing partnership between CDM Canada and local shelters, there have been occasions where they have reached out to shelters and offered aid, especially since the influx of refugees. For example, CDGM has partnered with Yonge Street Mission in the past.

Gerrick recalled an instance in which he encountered a young couple who’d traveled from another province to Toronto because the place where they were from was poverty-stricken. However, instead of finding opportunity, they ended up becoming homeless. The team helped set up a tent for them, and the subsequent times they went out there, they did not see the couple anymore. For Gerrick and other volunteers, good news and hope are found in absence. When they do not encounter the same person again, hope flares. At CDM Canada, the prayer is twofold: that the individual finds a house, as well as a home in Jesus Christ.


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