John and Corina Ardelean. (Special to The News)

John and Corina Ardelean. (Special to The News)

Romanian refugees fulfill mission in Maple Ridge

Helping struggling families put food on the table

John and Corina Ardelean know what it’s like to depend on others for help.

Both are from refugee families of the 1989 Romanian Revolution.

Corina’s parents were forced to leave her and two of her sisters behind with their grandparents while they escaped to Canada to make a better life for their family.

“My dad was in the Romanian Army and he was found to be a Christian, which was illegal,” explained Corina, who along with her siblings would not see their parents for another two years – following them to Vancouver in 1991.

John’s older sister escaped from Romania in 1990 with her husband and sponsored the rest of the family – including John, his parents and siblings – in 1992.

When they arrived, their families, explained Corina, depended on the local food bank. They were people who could barely wait for their next hamper delivery, not knowing what you were going to eat.

But it was their past that shaped the people they were to become.

READ MORE: Livestreamed services could be coming from Langley church if coronavirus worsens

Now they are the ones feeding and helping people who are struggling to put food on the table and make ends meet.

In September last year, the couple launched a ministry called City Serve through Christian Life Assembly, (CLA), in Maple Ridge, and they are delivering more than 500 lbs of food weekly to locals in need.

John and Corina knew they wanted to help people in whatever community they were to call home.

Seven years ago the couple sold their house in Coquitlam and moved to Maple Ridge because they felt a calling to do missionary work.

About five years ago they began working as local missionaries in Surrey where they attended a Romanian church. Then, about two and a half years ago, they started their work in Maple Ridge – a bread night at Wildwood Fellowship Church in Whonnock. Every Tuesday they would pick up end-of-the-day bread from Cobs in Mission and bring it to the church where they would divide it up before distributing it to those in need.

But, it was not until they took a Launch Leadership course by CLA Pastor Mark Colwell that they knew they wanted to make their bread night into something more.

“At the end of the six week course you had to launch a ministry,” explained Corina.

The couple knew they wanted to provide families with fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, oil changes, furniture, whatever they could get their hands on.

When they approached Pastor Colwell with the idea he suggested launching City Serve, a CLA ministry that had already been running for a number of years at the church in Langley. City Serve, as a whole, explained Colwell, is whatever they do as a church to minister the needs in the community, and move people from the church into local missionary activity.

In September the church held a day where 65 volunteers cleaned the streets of Maple Ridge. Right now they are working on a mission to deliver Valentine’s Day cards to residents of Baillie House.

However, over the past eight months, Colwell said, the Ardelean’s have “birthed something incredibly new.”

“Because of their passion, and the people that they have brought around them, we are now delivering groceries to the families every week,” he said.

Through their connections with Cobs, Save-On Foods in Surrey and the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries, the Ardelean’s are able to feed about eight families locally, with the rest of the food packed into hampers for anywhere between 15 and 19 Sudanese refugee families living in Abbotsford and Mission.

RELATED: Record-breaking year for Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Christmas kettle campaign

Colwell was able to renovate a room at the church for the Ardelean’s to operate their mission out of. A single donor gave them money for an industrial-sized commercial fridge and freezer.

From Monday to Wednesday, the couple will collect the food and stock the fridge and freezer as they receive it.

On Wednesday they help out the Middle Eastern Friendship Centre in Surrey, where they also help Syrian refugees, by picking up food at Save On Foods and delivering it, bringing food back to Maple Ridge as well. Then Wednesday afternoon they set up the room at the church like a grocery store and allow clients, one at a time, to enter, picking up the items they need.

And they never have to set limits.

“They always think of the person coming in after them,” said Corina, adding they usually have to encourage families to take more.

They also do not screen their clients. Families are referred to them by word-of-mouth.

“They vouch for each other,” noted Corina.

In addition to groceries, Corina and John also hand out gift certificates for grocery stores, oil changes and to stores in malls – whatever they can get their hands on.

“People that we help are just extraordinary people,” said Corina, “They just find themselves in a situation that they don’t want to be in.”

And, she said, because of the calling they have in their lives, they are able to help them in a non-judgmental way while preserving their dignity.

Anyone wishing to donate can go to the church’s website at drop off gift certificates at the church office, 11756 232 Street.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

charitymaple ridge

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


Christmas hampers ready to be handed out. (Special to The News)

Christmas hampers ready to be handed out. (Special to The News)

Just Posted

SHARE: Stunning vistas of Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

City hall is asking for public input on its greenhouse gas reduction plans.
Maple Ridge wants citizen input on greenhouse gas targets

City hall to host an online webinar on Thursday

Pitt Meadows United Church has a new Expression Station, to create a record of people’s feelings during this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Special to The News)
Closed by COVID-19, Pitt Meadows church offers Expression Station

Say what you need to say in this pandemic time, offers United Church

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. (Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press)
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Feb. 28

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

On Monday, March 1, 2021, Maple Ridge is hosting an information session on Choose to Move, a fitness program for people 65 and older. (Maple Ridge image)
Maple Ridge seniors invited to information session on free fitness program

Learn about the program for those 65 and older on Monday, March 1

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Alina Durham, mother of Shaelene Bell, lights candles on behalf of Bell’s two sons during a vigil on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO and PHOTOS: Candlelight vigil for missing Chilliwack woman sends message of hope

Small group of family, friends gathered to shine light for 23-year-old mother Shaelene Bell

Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Most Read