New Kind of Pharmacy

[24-7 Prayer’s Aaron White who ministers with the Salvation Army in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side has a great new blog called Screaming Redeemed. This is one of his posts from this week]vancouver614

Very strange moment for me today. After the Holiness Meeting, a friend and I went to meet a man named Bobby who is running a new type of Pharmacy in the DTES.

The Pharmacies in the DTES have kind of a bad name, as there has been some corruption uncovered as of late. This particular pharmacy is different, in that it is linked to an in-depth mental heath study, and aims to address the entire person, rather than just their methadone needs. Bobby said:

“30% of the people we have surveyed in this neighbourhood are addicted to Heroin. 73% of the people we have surveyed have various mental health issues, many of them stacked one on top of the other. Yet Pharmacies are so quick to dispense methadone, and reluctant or unable to address these underlying issues.”

Another thing that struck me was his observance that there is a “spiritual” side of his clients which is not being addressed by pharmacology, law enforcement, or psychiatric care. This seems like a whole new way of thinking in the health care field, but of course it is an ancient understanding that human beings are not just bodies and chemicals.

The strangest thing about the whole meeting, however, was that this new Pharmacy is located in the old 614 apartments on Main Street. It was very bizarre going up to the top floor where we used to have dinners, watch movies, run cell groups, and where countless 614 people used to live. They still have the same landlord, and are still encountering the exact same problems we did. Their main reception area is where the old ZOO shop used to be. (I did not ask if any of them have gone up to the roof to screen movies, water plants, or shoot bb guns.)

I believe we left a spiritual heritage in that place, and are now being invited back in to offer spiritual care to people who are at their lowest ebb. It is beautiful, and also hilarious to anyone who spent anytime there.

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