For Brittney Murray, Montreal Lake has become a second home. While she initially went for a weekend, she has found her way back to the Aboriginal community many times since and the people have captured a special place in Brittney’s heart. Brittney shared her story of her journey to Montreal Lake and how God has been shaping her through it.
Brittney knew when she first came to Briercrest that the Lord was putting missions on her heart. She was invited to go up to Montreal Lake for a weekend with a small group of Briercrest students and staff. The group goes a couple of weekends each semester and spends time in the community there under the leadership of the local pastor, Cliff Bird.
Brittney explained that there often is no set schedule for the weekend.
“Going up there, you go with the mindset that we really need to listen to the Lord and be open and obedient to what he would have for us,” Murray said. “Sometimes that looks like going to the gym where kids hang out and playing basketball with them, or doing crafts with kids and engaging with the youth in that way. Other times it has looked like having some of the young believers come to the camp that we stay at and spend the night with us and just hang out with them in a smaller group setting.”
Having gone to visit multiple times throughout the last few years, as well as spending two summers there, going to Montreal Lake feels like going home.
“My heart is tied to the community and to the people. When I go, it’s like I’m going to see family and people that I sincerely love—kids that are my little brothers and my little sisters, or people that are like aunts and uncles. They have been so welcoming and gracious to welcome me in.”
“Even my first time, the kids asked right away, ‘When are you coming back?’ So you can’t just not come back,” Murray laughed.
Building relationships with people in the community has made leaving that much harder.
“Now when I leave, my heart breaks every day. The Lord just breaks my heart and I do feel heartache—especially after the first summer of going there. It was really difficult to come back to Briercrest and I spent months grieving,” Murray said.
“I think God has taught me is to be willing to let him break your heart,” Murray continued. “With loving the people in Montreal Lake it is really difficult to leave. It’s kind of like I go and have this joyous time with them and I leave and them my heart breaks. Sometimes when we love people, it’s hard and our heart can be broken. But I’ve learned to be ok with it and keep on loving even though it will hurt.”
Brittney was only 18 years old when she spent her first summer there. Despite apprehension from some people as she considered it, she felt strongly that it was something God was calling her into.
“As I was praying and thinking about it, I had some people tell me I was too young to go there and stay there,” Murray explained. “And that’s ok, but that’s something I still had to pray through and ask the Lord. The Lord brought me to Paul with Timothy and Paul encouraging him despite his youth. And David and Goliath; David was young too but he was trusting in the Lord.”
During that summer, northern Saskatchewan was hit by forest fires and Montreal Lake was forced to evacuate. Brittney was encouraged to return home to Ontario, but instead she chose to stay with the people in the community.
“I just knew from the Lord that I needed to stay. It wasn’t really a deep thought not to,” Murray said. “The Lord had me in a community and they were going through a crisis; that’s one of the most important times to be with someone. You don’t just get up and leave in times like that. The verse that I think about is “Weep with those who weep; mourn with those who mourn,” (Romans 12:15). It was a difficult time for us to be with the people, weeping with them and standing with them.”
“Through those times the Lord has walked with me through it and shown me that it’s not about me and he’s doing his work and he has chosen inadequate people and it’s not about me and what I can do, but actually that I need to be listening to the Holy Spirit,” Murray said.
“The Lord is doing an amazing work there and I am humbled to be able to witness that and that God would ask me to be His hands and feet there too and to walk alongside the believers He has there already,” Murray said.