by Mamta Lulla

A good listening ear is all we need sometimes.

That is the message Hope Christian Reformed Church’s pastor Jacob Boer has for the community. It is what he practices in his role and he finds it helps all those who decide to stop at the church and have a conversation with him.

Boer said the people in the acreage-living community around Stony Plain and Parkland County often struggle with loneliness, an active or busy lifestyle among those with young children and unseen poverty especially since the economic downturn.

He explained people who live below the poverty line go unnoticed maybe because they couch surf or live in their cars.

Another growing problem is domestic violence in families and children in these homes also grow up with issues.

There are problems with every demographics including seniors. People often move out to acreages to support their independent carefree lifestyle but as people age they lose their support network and end up living alone.

“They don’t want to go into assisted living or senior homes so they are looking for a community that will help them stay in their property on their land,” he explained.

So what does the church and Boer do about these issues? Listen.

Boer explains most times it isn’t about people seeking advice as they are looking to feel heard and cared for by people around them.

Boer often connects people with resources available in the community that can help them from support groups to offering church space for programs that run in the community for free.

He says the community needs to work together to support each other and make the Tri-Region a healthier community to live.

Although, there are issues in the Tri-Region, Boer adds these issues are common and people struggle with them all across the country as he has seen them in other communities. Boer moved to Stony Plain area in 2015 and has been a pastor for close to 19 years, which includes four years of experience as a youth pastor.

Originally from Thunder Bay in Ont., he has served as a pastor in Quebec, Michigan, and southern Ontario before he moved to Alberta.

He supports community groups to strengthen the Tri-Region and offers his listening ear for anyone in need. He believes in uplifting people with love, support and care.

Hope Christian Reformed Church is located just outside of Stony Plain and is part of a larger denomination with churches all across North America.