In 2013, I had the opportunity to visit Downtown Outreach Bible Chapel (DOBC); an assembly established in 2010 by evangelist, Layton Kerr. Layton is part of Open Air Campaigners, a non-denominational gospel-centered ministry whose motto is “Preaching Christ by all Means Everywhere.”
One Friday in June, several of us met for prayer in a homeless shelter in downtown Ottawa. Layton led us in a devotion, followed by a round of prayer. We then walked through the teeming nightlife of the city’s bar district to a spot in front of the Rideau Centre, an expansive downtown shopping mall. Crowds gushed by as we set up an easel and an amplifier. Layton and a group of us young guys had spent the morning preparing our outlines. These weren’t regular sermon notes. They were illustrations painted on big sheets of paper, not exactly works of art. Layton rolled one out on his sketch board, got out his paintbrushes, and after attaching a portable microphone, began his message. The rest of our group stood around listening as a multitude of souls circled our crew. After the five-minute message, we began talking to those that had flowed from the river of humanity. Some listeners engaged in conversation, while others took a tract and continued on their way.
This was a typical Friday night for Layton and other workers, some who fellowship at DOBC, and others who attend other meetings. They follow up their street outreach with a Monday night Bible study at the food court in the Rideau Centre. These outreaches have been greatly used of the Lord. Layton writes, “One woman in our assembly was saved on the street five years ago, was baptized, and came into fellowship shortly after. She was contemplating suicide when we met her. She met her husband at the food court Bible study, and we married them a year later. They now have a one year old son together.”
DOBC currently has about 30 adults in fellowship, 16 of which were baptized at the assembly. Most of these were reached through door to door evangelism, street work, or the food court Bible study.
The assembly began when a group of Christians doing street evangelism in Ottawa saw the need for an assembly in the downtown district. There are two other assemblies in Ottawa but it was difficult to transport people who lived in the downtown area out to these meetings. In January of 2010, a few years after starting the food court Bible study, DOBC was founded. It began as Sunday afternoon meetings in an upper room at a community center. Sound familiar? Their meetings included the breaking of bread and Bible teaching on Sundays, and prayer on Wednesdays. In December of 2015 they were able to move to another location, which had better accommodations for families, including classrooms and a kitchen.
Lives are being radically transformed by the gospel at DOBC. Layton writes, “After our first door to door campaign as an assembly, we were asked to do a home visit. We met a couple living together. It seemed the lady was saved, but when we asked the man if he knew what the gospel was, he said he didn’t but wanted to know. We met with him later and he trusted the Lord. We baptized both of them, and married them soon after. They then came into fellowship with us.”
• That the name of Christ would be honored and lifted up in downtown Ottawa, Ontario.
• For the outreaches of DOBC, which include: a bi-weekly women’s Bible study, weekly food court Bible study in French and English in conjunction with Open Air Campaigners, men’s breakfasts, movie nights, street evangelism, door to door work, and Sunday school.
• For the Lord’s continued blessing, provision, and guidance.
• Co-laborers, a family or two that could share in the responsibilities.
“…The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few…” (Matt. 9:37)