In 1987 Siloam Mission started with a man in prison with a vision.
Frank Klassen works in the Spiritual Care department at Siloam Mission. However, he was also there from the very beginning.
"I was involved in helping Suk Woon Lee start-up Siloam Mission at the very beginning," says Klassen.
Back in 1987, Klassen was attending the Nazarene Church in Winnipeg.
"Lee was a member, serving a life sentence. The time we got to know him was at Stoney Mountain. He became a Christian in prison and did all kinds of courses and became a church member while still in prison."
Lee reached out to the pastor and shared with him that he wanted to start a soup kitchen.
"I was at that time a one-person committee of evangelism and outreach for our church, so the pastor said 'Frank, you go deal with this.' So I met Lee and became his gopher on the outside, helping to get stuff going."
When the duo first found a building suitable for their soup kitchen, Klassen was feeling uneasy.
"His favourite saying was always, 'No problem, no problem, God will take care of it.' It got to be a place where I just loved being there and looked forward to it."
Klassen and Lee were joined by other students of Nazarene College, Floyd and Brian, to run one evening a week at Siloam.
"We would have a service, preach for 5-10 minutes, sing some songs, and then have some soup. One of the interesting things is that you were preaching for 5-8 minutes and people would call you out on stuff. Sometimes you would allow it as part of your sermon and sometimes ignore it, so it was a pretty good place to practise as I became a pastor."
Since then, Lee fled as allegedly the Canadian government was looking to deport him back to South Korea, where he would face capital punishment. He is still at large with the RCMP in Manitoba.
While Klassen hasn't been with Siloam the whole time, he started there and came back 10 years ago after spending time in Toronto.
A Dream turned into Reality
"One of the things we really wished we could've done is to have some kind of long-term help for people. People would come in and say, 'I want to quit drinking.' We would pray with them," says Klassen.
However, after praying for these community members, they closed up for the night which meant sending them back into the situation that may have caused the addiction in the first place.
"What hope did they have to successfully give up their addiction?"
In 2021, 34 years after Siloam first opened up its doors, they are offering long-term solutions in this area.
"Now finally, we have what we call the NEST [program]. It's recovery housing on the third floor of 300 Princess. It opened up in July and I have the privilege of being the Spiritual Care person there."
The program focuses on helping people coming out of addiction recovery programs as they attempt to get back on their feet, with temporary housing.
"It's really quite exciting that we now have that opportunity that we had dreamt about right from the very beginning."