Indigenous Christians lead 'March For Jesus' through downtown Vancouver on 4/20

In a province gripped with record-high drug overdoses and so-called 'safer supply' drugs being diverted to dealers and children, a group of Christians held a march to spread hope through Vancouver's struggling Downtown Eastside area on 4/20.

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As many cannabis users gathered in downtown Vancouver to celebrate the annual 4/20 “pot culture” festivities on Saturday, Indigenous pastors led a “March For Jesus” through the city's impoverished Downtown Eastside with a very different message: a message of hope and deliverance from the bondage of addiction that many in the dilapidated area suffer from.

The march, which was the first of its kind to run in Vancouver since before the declared COVID-19 pandemic, attracted over 200 marchers. The demonstration was organized by Bishop Jessie Allen from the First Pentecostal Evangelical Church of Canada and a Downtown Eastside street preacher named Pastor Natalie Stevenson.

Both pastors have a heart for the DTES community and have spent many years serving as a light in the dark of the region, which is a hub for addiction and overdoses.

After marching while chanting for Jesus and waving flags, the group settled at Oppenheimer Park, best known for a now-torn-down tent city and often coined “Needle Park.” There, community members were welcomed to enjoy a free barbecue, live worship music, and hear testimonies on how some individuals were able to turn away from addiction when they turned toward God.

“This march is basically for us to stand up against the kingdom of darkness,” Bishop Allen, who felt compelled to organize the march on 4/20, told Rebel News. “As you see on the Downtown Eastside, we have a stronghold when it comes to the spirit of addiction,” Allen continued.

“So, what we did is, we invite all the drug dealers and all the drug addicts to come down here and be a part of it.”

Rebel News also spoke with Allen and some of the demonstration’s attendees about their thoughts on the province's controversial “safer drug supply” policies, which are heavily criticized for having major deficiencies, correlating with record high overdoses and have resulting in drug diversion into the hands of drug dealers and children.

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