Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter June 2020

The CBWC Mountain Standard Region Under Covid Restrictions

 

It has been my privilege to meet on Zoom over the past month with all five of our ministry clusters across the Mountain Standard Region – South, Calgary, Central, Edmonton and Peace Country. To be truthful, I expected more panic and anxiety than I have seen. Here are some of my summary observations:

– ONLINE SERVICES – The first couple weeks threw most church leaders into some unfamiliar territory. Most had to work on skills relating to Facebook Live, Facetime, Zoom, or Youtube. Most have found that the numbers watching their services online has exceeded what would have been their regular attendance. With many watching as couples or families, the exact numbers are impossible to get, but past members, members’ relatives, and neighbours have logged on to watch. This is a time of challenge, but it is a time of opportunity as well. The online presence of the Church is likely to be enhanced after this period of isolation. I am personally pleased with the advances we have made in the use of technology at this time.

– GIVING – Budgets have been concerning for most of our churches. Many are unfamiliar with new ways to share their giving to their church. Direct deposits, mailing checks, and dropping off monies at the church directly are foreign ways for most of us, who are used to the traditional passing-of-the-plate. In spite of the inconvenience, I can relate that a few of our churches are being blessed and are actually ahead of their monthly giving compared to last year. Giving is hardest to maintain in our new Canadian churches. Our Filipino church in Calgary has seen more than 40% of their congregation laid off over the past months and giving, therefore, has dropped off significantly.

– CONNECTING WITH OUR COMMUNITY – Pastors and board members take seriously the challenge of connecting with the church family while they cannot meet corporately. Several of these have made intentional, personal contact through phoning everyone in their church directory on a consistent basis. The personal ‘feel’ is appreciated, and intimate prayer concerns have been shared that may have been missed before. The number of Zoom meetings for Bible studies, committee meetings, and for other teaching purposes have risen dramatically in almost every setting.

– AN UNFAMILIAR FUTURE – Regular events and annual schedules have taken space in the new unknown. Planning ahead is a luxury we may not have for a while. Governments are sharing news on a daily or weekly basis on new restrictions or new benefits. This new future seems to carry the stain of uncertainty. Some CBWC or church events have been cancelled or postponed (like SERVE, anniversary services, Ordination Examination Council, sabbaticals) and serious planning for most Fall events is still up in the air.

– GOD AT WORK – God is touching people’s lives and bringing people in contact with Himself through technology. One pastor shared about a neighbour across the street from the church who had lived there for years and never came to church. But now, after accessing online services, the person sends encouraging emails and notes, expressing a positive connection to the church in the future. Gull Lake Camp has ventured into virtual camping and has seen people come to Christ in that way. Compassion for the poor and inconvenienced has increased as some churches have used up their benevolent funds and now seek a way forward to minister to their communities.

April 2020 CBWC Board Meeting

May 2020 Edmonton Ministerial 

SOME UPDATES:

o The CBWC Board is working on a CBWC core values statement that is likely to come to the 2021 CBWC Gathering for our broader church family to discuss. Most of our pastors have seen the current version, but it is still a work in progress. More details on this will come in the future.

o Duane Guthrie arrived as the new pastor at Fort Saskatchewan Community Baptist Church in March. He preached to a small crowd his first Sunday, which was just prior to full blown COVID-19 restrictions, when some were already staying away from crowds. He has been online every Sunday since, but this is truly an unusual and challenging way to start a church ministry.

o Dayle and Dawn Medgett have announced that they will retire from Westview Baptist in Calgary around Easter of 2021.

o Ashley Winkel is the new Pastor of Children and Family Ministries at Trinity Baptist in Sherwood Park.

o High River Baptist has hired a new staff member that will be announced at a later date.

o Peace River Baptist is looking at a candidate for lead pastor.

o Zion Baptist Church has Allen McPhedran as their interim pastor. The job description for their Lead Pastor position is now online.

– ITEMS FOR PRAYER:

o Our ability to disciple, to share Christ and to serve our communities in the midst of this season of isolation

o Our churches that are struggling over finances at this time

o Our MSR representatives on the CBWC Board: Sam Breakey (Board President), Herb Ziegler (Vice President of Finance – Sherwood Park) Randy Loewen (Yellowknife – Regional Moderator), Sandra Goetz (Regional rep – Charlie Lake), Brad Penner (Regional rep – Red Deer)

o Our CBWC online assembly decisions on May 21st

o Our church plants comprised of new Canadians

o Our ability to plan ahead appropriately, for the denomination and our churches

o Our government representatives while they wrestle with difficult decisions

o Our chaplains, especially those serving in this challenging season with the elderly and those under medical care

“Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.” Eph 4:3 NLT

Your co-worker, Dennis

Note from Paul Hebert

Paul Hebert attends First Baptist Church in Peace River and is one of the first credentialed in the CBWC as ‘Mandated Lay Chaplain’. Here, he shares his report on the exciting things that God has recently led him into.

Good day, my name is Paul Hebert and I am blessed by serving our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. These last six months have been so awesome. There are so many things I can write about, but I will try to keep this short.

For the last five years I have been part of the Bikers for Christ Motorcycle Ministry, and also the Gideons Ministry for six years. Four years ago, we started another outreach ministry called Picnic in the Park. All these ministries tie together our acts of serving our Lord.

Bikers for Christ allows us to safely navigate and learn the biker culture.

Gideons support our ministry in how to evangelize in our world and have Bibles for us to distribute throughout our ministry.

Picnic in the Park is a ministry where, every Thursday from April until mid-October, we have a free community picnic. Everyone is welcome to share in food, testimonies, relationships and scripture.

For all of these ministries, we have never asked for donations or support, yet God has always taken care of our them by providing finances, protection and volunteers.

This last year, God put it on my heart to expand our ministry and to seek out a charitable status. I was reluctant and stubborn but God, in His wisdom, knew to keep at me until I listened to Him. When the time was right in my heart, He introduced the Great Commission Foundation (GCF) to me.

I applied through the GCF for charitable status and was approved. Our ministry name is called Servant’s Heart Initiative. (Go to the GFC website and our ministry is on the programs list for further information)

Servant’s Heart Initiative is now the main ministry in serving in our community and the communities around us. It is growing daily, with Picnic in the Park as a leg of the ministry. We now have a Life Skill ministry to teach young adults how to cook, clean, shop and financially budget.

We also have a work ministry called Chisel and Hammer. This ministry is to help our elderly, widowers, those with disabilities and single parents with yard work, vehicle maintenance, cleaning homes, house repairs and more.

Another ministry we have is a food program ministry. This ministry is to help feed those in need, prepare meals for those that cannot do so themselves, and support lunches for children that are no longer being fed in the school lunch programs.

Lastly, we have our evangelical ministry which incorporates sharing the word, Bible studies, supporting churches, bringing churches together as one body, and youth activities and engagements.

This is a summary of what Servant’s Heart Initiative is and what all our volunteers and community support. It’s only been active since March 15, 2020 and God has led our communities to donate more than $28,000 so far—without us trying to seek funds. God is so, so good!

On top of all this, being a lay minister has allowed me to marry couples, share the Word and so much more. We build relationships every single day and there are daily testimonies happening in our community.

This is why I say that I have been blessed. God has picked me to serve Him and has blown my mind every day with how good He is.

Our goal is to spread this ministry to over 100 communities in the next five years. It’s been a vision that’s on my heart.

Thank you all for your support and prayers. God bless you all.

Need office furniture? Talk to Dennis! dstone@cbwc.ca

This regional newsletter is published quarterly within the CBWC’s monthly newsletter, Making Connections. Have a story idea? Want to tell us how great we’re doing? Or how terribly? Email our senior writer, Jenna Hanger: jhanger@cbwc.ca

Making Connections June 2020

Equipping Churches for the Mental Health Crisis

By Jenna Hanger

The challenges created by the COVID-19 crisis have been immense. Life has completely changed, and it will be a while before things become ‘business as usual’. We are at the beginning of an economic crisis on top of the health crisis. But there is another crisis happening in our midst—one that actually was happening long before COVID-19 shut everything down—but it is rapidly growing now. That crisis is around mental health.

Thanks to our evolving culture, mental health is being talked about more now than ever. We have learned more about the complexity of the brain in the past twenty years than in our entire human history, and this has resulted in mental health being more effectively understood and accepted in society. However, as a church body we still have a long way to go. While some churches do a great job on this front, many are still ill-equipped to properly handle the issues around mental health. This is where Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries, out of Vancouver, comes into play.

Sanctuary was developed to help churches engage in the mental health conversation, with the goal of making the church a much safer place for someone in the midst of a crisis. One of the ways it does this is through an interdisciplinary approach. It looks at how we can understand mental health—psychologically and theologically speaking—and how we can understand it through our experience as a person.

One of the key resources that Sanctuary provides is a course which facilitates conversations in churches around the topics of faith and mental health. In the end, the congregation comes out with a shared language and framework on how to think and talk about this subjected, and in doing that well, a lot more people will feel cared for, heard and understood.

Daniel Whitehead, Executive Director of Mental Health Ministries, shared one outcome of the course, which is to understand the difference between mental health and mental illness.

“Rather than thinking of this idea that someone has a mental illness or not, we need to think more of the various shades of grey, and depending on the seasons and what’s going on in our lives, all of us are susceptible to having diminished mental health,” says Daniel.

“We tend to talk about flourishing mental health or languishing mental health. We all live in that spectrum, and we move up and down it. We can move up and down it in a day, let alone within seasons. It’s about acknowledging simply that we all have mental health and all of us depending upon our biological make up, our circumstances and what’s going on in our lives and in the world will dictate whether our mental health is flourishing or languishing in any moment.”

One of the reasons the church seems to be so far behind the conversation is that there are lingering stigmas attached to mental health; oversimplification probably being the main one. Daniel says that they often get people coming to them and saying that mental health issues are all linked to spiritual issues, and that ‘prayer is all you need’. The general thought is that happiness and faithfulness are linked.; if you aren’t displaying outward happiness, then you must be lacking in faithfulness. When, in reality, it is a much more complex issue than that. This type of thinking is not new. In fact, Daniel points out that you can see examples of it in the Bible. 

“It’s the same that happened in Jesus’ day. You know, there’s the man born blind and what do the religious leaders and Pharisees say? ‘Oh, was it him or was it his parents, who’s to blame?’ They just want to find someone to blame. And that’s born out of our own insecurities. We think if we can find someone to blame, we can just name it and deal with it, and we don’t have to think about the complexity.”

The truth is, we are complex holistic beings, and a holistic approach is what is needed to effectively help our mental health. This means that a person’s recovery often needs to incorporate all areas of emotional, spiritual, physical, relational, etc. This includes eating and sleeping well, brain health, maybe medication, talking therapies, as well as reading your Bible and praying. All these things are needed to help a person experience wellness.

So, what should the role of the church be in all of this? The answer is actually quite simple. The role of the church, when it comes to mental health, should be a focus on supporting people relationally, a huge need for someone struggling with their mental health.

“When you have a way of framing it, you quickly realize that the church is the perfect place to be a support to people, because what people need is unconditional love. They need friendship, but genuine friendship,” says Daniel.

The key to doing this is to have empathy.

“Very often the key to helping someone find recovery, and walk that path of recovery, is with empathy. Are we people who just say, ‘I see you as you are. I’m glad that you are here, and I want to support you. I’m not an expert, but I want to support you’? And I think if we could all say that to people in the midst of a mental health crisis, then a lot of good will be done. A lot of people will be finding a place of flourishing more quickly.”

The Sanctuary Mental Health course has grown in popularity since it was started in 2018. First Baptist Church in Vancouver is one of many churches who advocate for the course. Their goal is to get 20% of their congregation to go through the material. John Tsang, Minister of Congregational Care, says he can’t speak highly enough about the benefits of the course.

“Our experience with the Sanctuary course surpassed our expectations! From the feedback that we received after the course, participants really found the videos deeply moving and the material in the manual very informative. The spiritual practices included in each session were also well received, as they helped us to process the content in light of our faith. All three of the group facilitators found it extremely rewarding to take part in the Sanctuary Course,” John said.  

“When we decided to run this course, we thought we would get enough for one group of 8 or 10 people. We ended up with 20 people who signed up, and we had to cap our registration. I think this showed how much people are hungering for something like this. Everyone knows a neighbour, a family member, a friend, or a co-worker who has experienced mental health issues. The Sanctuary course gave us an excellent framework to understand mental health and in particular, how spirituality and community can play a crucial part to someone’s mental health.”

Besides the main course, Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries is offering a free course titled “Faith, Grief and COVID-19” to help support people during this time. For more information, visit https://www.sanctuarymentalhealth.org.

For additional resources check out Timothy Colborne’s Book: Directions For Getting Lost- The Spiritual Journey Through the Wilderness of Mental Illness

Summer is Cancelled? No, it’s not!

With government restrictions slowly starting to lift in many of our provinces, there is hope that we might be able to emerge from our homes and be able to enjoy the summer months. However, there is no doubt life will not look like it used to. All major summer events have been cancelled, group gatherings still have strict guidelines, weddings and reunions have been post-poned and most vacation locations have had their spots reduced so significantly that only a few have been able to book a spot.

But there is an undercurrent of positivity beneath it all. The way in which we have all been forced to slow down and communicate differently has challenged many to think outside the box and be more intentional about investing in relationships. There are many creative ways that people have come up with to respect the current rules and enjoy life to the fullest.

Many CBWC camps for example are adapting as new information arises. While it is almost certain that the usual summer camp experience will not be happening (though many camps stand ready to go if the rules change to permit it), many camps are offering alternative programs to reach out to kids.

For the past few weeks Gull Lake Centre has offered some online camps with great success. There is a possibility of that continuing in the coming months. With the latest changes to Alberta, they are also seriously considering running day camps. The guidelines for these camps would be ten people including leaders. Gull Lake is set up so it would be possible to run seven of these groups at once (in different buildings). They are also determined to still run their LTD program, though it will look at little different.

Miller Creek Camp out of Pincher Creek, AB is also planning on running some online camps, and are putting together ‘Camp in a Box’ care packages. They are also hoping to open their grounds for campers to come, one at a time, so that the property will be used.

Keats Camp from Burnaby, BC is another camp who is being creative during this time in their effort to reach kids. They are using their social media to share devotions, challenge kids with camp activities that would help them get outside and be active. They also have their merchandise store open online. They are hoping to facilitate small work parties and use this time to pour into the grounds accomplishing work on some projects.

Katepwa Lake Camp in Fort Qu’Appelle, SK is hopeful to run their LIT program later this summer, under Saskatchewan’s phase 3 and 4 plan reopening plan. They are also seriously and optimistically looking at doing a “Staff Camp” this year, and taking what would be a “Sabbath Summer” of sorts to spiritually invest in and mentor their staff while also working on some property projects.

There are also reports of churches who are going to be running VBS programs online, which involve sharing devotions, songs, crafts and even providing care packages to be sent out to families who have signed up.

For more information, visit your local camp website to keep up to date on activities being offered and the latest rapidly changing news.

 Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter

Our Region Under Covid Restrictions | Words from Paul Hebert

The Gathering 2020

By Esther Kitchener

The CBWC seeks to be good stewards of the resources held in our care for ministry, and one of the cost-saving measures implemented in 2014 was to begin holding our Assemblies online every second year. Who would have known that this forum for holding AGMs would be the only available option for registered charities in 2020? We are blessed to have had the practice of four such online assemblies now!

The CBWC Online Assembly was held on Thursday, May 21, 2020 with more than 211 in attendance, including 171 delegates and pastors representing 79 churches, as well as 27 staff and several non-voting guests. The meeting opened with a creative video montage of Psalm 8 with submissions from church members across Western Canada, followed by an opening prayer by CBWC President, Sam Breakey. Victor Ku (Director of Administration and Finance), Herb Ziegler (VP of Finance), and Colin Godwin (Carey President) brought reports, with motions put forward and carried as part of the business of the CBWC.

We also enjoyed a ministry initiative update on Kurios, and a compelling address by Rob Ogilvie, Executive Minister of the CBWC. Rob shared some of the myriad ways CBWC churches and ministry leaders have been able to think outside the box in caring for their neighbours while living out the hope and love of Christ during this pandemic. You have found ways to be the church, and your resourcefulness and discernment has been profoundly encouraging to us as CBWC Staff!

Because of our years of Online Assembly experience, and as part of our Kingdom work together during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been able to effectively partner with our sister denominations in sharing resources, encouragement and support for our churches and leaders across Canada. One of the ways CBWC was able to contribute was to resource CBOQ, CBAC and the French Baptist Union in exploring how to transition their in-person Assemblies to an online format for 2020, due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions. We are grateful for this opportunity to collaborate.

We look forward to the possibility of seeing you in-person next year at The Gathering 2021, which is scheduled to take place in High River, Alberta, May 27-29, 2021. Save the date!

Below are links to three videos shown at the Gathering:

Psalm 8: Praying Across Western Canada https://vimeo.com/421709046

CBWC Life Together (30 minute Pre-Gathering Show) https://vimeo.com/421707790

Kurios Update from Steve https://vimeo.com/421714234

The Mustard Seed Street Church’s Chris Pollock Presented with Leadership Award

Last month Chris Pollock, the Hospitality Pastor at The Mustard Seed Street Church and Food Bank in Victoria, BC, was honoured to receive the Belonging & Engagement award from the 2020 Victoria Community Leadership Awards.

Chris said that when he heard he had won, he was surprised—as he didn’t even know he had been nominated. This award was well-earned. Chris has been working with The Mustard Seed Street Church for almost twenty years and is passionate about the ministry.

“So many pour their hearts and lives serving Christ, sharing in love and life, through the ministry of the Mustard Seed. So many, over the course of the last 40 plus years, have been involved and found belonging within the community of the Mustard Seed Street Church. Some for the entirety of that time. I am another one of those who call themselves ‘Seeders’, who has found hope and belonging in community here,” he said.

Chris runs several programs including The Urban Hermit, an evening for people to come and share their way of being creative. Some bring poems they’ve been working on, some describe their artwork, others will sing a song that has significant meaning for them by Karaoke. The Urban Hermit is a bridge for all walks of life to come together, respect diversity and learn from one another. For a period of time, the community of the Urban Hermit was stopped, and for the duration of that time, the hope that the community would rekindle to life again never ceased.

Another ministry is the Street Café. Started over 10 years ago by a group of students at UVIC, the Street Café is also a bridging point for people from all walks of life. The tables are open for anyone to come and enjoy an outstanding, nutritious, thoughtful meal—candle-lit and with great dinner music being played in dim lights. Volunteer cooking teams, connecting with their Viewfield Food-Distribution Center in Esquimalt, prepare wonderful meals with options. A restaurant experience is produced on Friday evenings with a Maître-D calling names to open tables from the waiting area, waiters and waitresses to seat and serve, as well as bussers for cleaning up. It is a safe place; a refreshing place where people find rest after a tough day or week. Sometimes, the candlelit tables of Street Café can be a nice option for a couple to have a romantic dinner together.

The third ministry Chris runs is called Beyond the Streets. These are day excursions for groups of people to trails and beaches and mountain tops for fellowship and soul care. The city can be like a desert, suffocated by concrete and noise; Beyond the Streets has become an oasis of hope for those needing a break from the pressure and tension the streets can bring. Often, by a fire or during a picnic, transformative conversations will ensue, relieving aloneness in a moment of real togetherness and leading the group into prayer. There is time for quiet walks as well as adventurous hikes. Going Beyond the Streets is becoming a part of the community culture at the Mustard Seed Street Church.

In his teen years, Chris attended Royal Oak Baptist Church while Tom Oshiro, Executive Director and Senior Pastor of the Mustard Seed Street Church, was serving as a pastor there. Chris states that Tom is one leader he most looked up to growing up because of his undefended compassion and presence with people. Another leader he admires is Gipp Forster, founder of the Mustard Seed Street Church, for his poetic encounter and inspired empathy for those struggling, unknown and alone, on the margins of society.

Chris shared one of his favourite quotes is from Gipp Forster’s, “1987 Rambling Number Seventy-Eight”:

“Each of us is given an opportunity… be it great or small… to make some difference in this world we live in. To sow a seed of peace and of love… of concern and caring for the stranger as well as the appreciated. We are surrounded with such opportunities in our roller coaster world… and need only to reach out and touch them. But the blindness of ‘self’ prevents us, most of the time, and we are so busy defending what is ‘ours’ that we forfeit those treasures that do not rust or corrode. But, tomorrow is another day. A day to give a smile to the stranger on the street, to invite the enemy home to dinner, to forgive a wrong suffered. What shall we store up for ourselves. Tomorrow? And, how much is each of our lives worth?”

To learn more about Chris’ story, watch for the #weareallcbwc post coming this week on Facebook.

Copyright ©  2019 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.

Making Connections is the monthly newsletter of the CBWC.

BCY Regional Newsletter May 2020

Discovering Peace

By Sarah Emanual

I grew up in a loving, Christian home. My mom chose to follow Christ when I was pretty small, and my dad not too much later. I made the choice to follow Christ one night when I was about 4 or 5, mostly out of fear of not going to heaven. From the time that I was small, fear was a constant companion. It gave me nightmares, and it made me say no to a lot of things- out of fear of not fitting in, not being good enough or being made fun of.

In high school, I spent a year eating my lunch alone and hiding at a new school because I was afraid of sitting by myself in the lunchroom. I strived to follow Christ though, and my youth group became a huge part of my life. I was there every chance I got and became good friends with my youth leaders. My high involvement, and desire to follow Christ, soon gave me the title of ‘the perfect youth’. I took a couple years off of school after high school, working and volunteering in our church and denomination. But by the time I went to university I was ready to shake off some of that ‘perfect youth’ title. I had been living by this title and doing what everyone expected of me, afraid of letting my family and friends down. When I started university, I desired to figure out who I was apart from who everyone expected me to be. I still attended church, but I also made many poor choices as I struggled to figure this out. One day, as I was struggling between living for Christ, and living for the rest of the world, I felt God asking me to choose. Enough was enough, and it was time to stop this balancing act. I needed to make the choice between following Christ or following the world. In that moment I knew that the choice I needed to make was to follow God. He really was my everything, and I knew I could not live my life without Him.

That still did not erase all my fears, though. I still had many, and shortly after the birth of our second child I began to struggle with postpartum anxiety. My body experienced anxiety attacks, and my mind struggled with new fears. I kept trying to shake my fears, and give them to God, but they kept coming back to haunt me. Then a change started. I was on a girls’ trip with a couple of my best friends. We had taken a day to go on a mountain biking tour in the mountains of Oregon. One of the stops on the tour was a natural water ‘slide’ down a waterfall. That old familiar fear rose up. I didn’t want to take the risk and jump off the side to go into that waterfall. But in that moment, I began to question that fear. Was my decision to skip out on that experience based on the true desire not to go? Or was my decision to skip out based solely on being afraid to go? I was about to let fear dictate once again, and if I did, I would regret not going. So, I went. I slid down that waterfall and took the first step into letting go of my fears. That first step in giving them over to God.

Fears still haunted me, but I began the process of looking at them differently. The verses in Philippians 4 began to take on new meaning. “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again- rejoice! …Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4, 6-7 NLT) With God, fear no longer had the same grip on my life as it had. It was still there, but it wasn’t the same.

In February 2016, I was faced with my biggest fear. For over six months I had experienced changes and pain. The doctors could not figure out what was the cause. As I was still nursing our youngest child at the time, one of my doctors brushed it all off at ‘nursing problems’ and strongly advised me to stop nursing my 6-month-old immediately, suggesting that as soon as I stopped all my problems would stop. I was not so convinced. Things kept getting worse and worse. Finally, I was sent for another routine ultrasound to try to figure out what was going on. On February 12th I first heard the words inflammatory carcinoma. I send out an urgent prayer request and I was filled with a peace that could only come from God. On February 15th, I learned that I had not only one, but two types of aggressive breast cancer. Over the course of the next 10 days, I would also learn that it had spread to multiple parts of my body, making my case Stage IV breast cancer. Things were looking very grim indeed. I was facing my worst fears- that of dying from cancer and leaving behind those I loved. In this time though, God was there in many different ways, one of those being through my oncologist who told us that “there is always hope.” I had my port placed and started heavy duty IV chemotherapy on February 26, 2016.

A couple of weeks into chemo I was sitting at home, alone on the morning of Palm Sunday, when my fears sent me spiralling. I hadn’t experienced an anxiety attack for a couple years, but I was headed into the worst one I had ever had. I asked my family and a couple of close friends to pray for me in that moment. I was so fearful that this would be the end. That cancer and chemo were it. I was chained to fear, a slave to it. I doubted God. I doubted that He was in control and had the final say. In those moments though, I knew I had to give all to Him, and let Him take care of it all. I was not strong enough to deal with this on my own. The fear that held me captive my whole life started to be stripped away. The chains were broken. God had control of the past, present and future. He was my hope.

Over the next few months I finished chemo and went on to surgery and radiation treatments. I started on a targeted therapy. I heard the words ‘no cure’ many, many times. And though I continued to struggle with fear getting its way back in, I felt God’s peace guarding my heart and mind. A year after I started chemo, I ran and finished the Disney Princess Half Marathon. Me, a self-proclaimed non-runner. This journey with cancer being a marathon, not a sprint. A year after I finished my last round of IV chemo, I was told that there was no evidence of active disease! Then, less than a month later, they found new disease. Surgery and radiation all over again, and areas of cancer we thought were gone, came back. My faith was being tested again and again. During this time, we also prepared for a big move. We had been living in Arkansas for four years, and were preparing to move back to BC. A big move, radiation treatments, changes in medical systems-—God carrying us through it all.

Shortly after our move, the doctors started to question whether or not the targeted and hormone therapies I was still on were working the best for me. So, we began changing and adjusting my medications. In amongst all of this, I continued to learn what it meant to rest in God and to thrive despite my circumstances. We homeschooled and lived daily life. Celebrating life two, then three years past diagnosis. Each day and year being a gift. Figuring out what it meant to live with cancer. Then, in September 2019, things really began to change. My body was not handling one of my medication changes well, and the spots in my liver that we had been monitoring carefully, began to grow more quickly than what my oral medication could take care of. My oncologist said the next step would be to go back on IV chemo. I had my first dose, and then things quickly went downhill. My body reacted to the chemotherapy badly. My liver numbers increased rapidly, and within a few days I was told my body was no longer strong enough to continue on with chemotherapy, or any kind of treatment. I was sent home with the news that I probably only had a couple weeks left. While we were deeply saddened over this, I was not fearful. I was at peace knowing that I would soon be with my Saviour and King. I was set up with home care, and friends and family quickly arranged travel to come say their goodbyes. I grew weaker and weaker. I could feel myself slipping away. Each time I fell asleep I wondered if that would be the time I would meet my Jesus face to face. And then things changed again. I started getting stronger, and reaching medical milestones we didn’t think were possible any more. And within just a few short days, my bloodwork levels began to look good enough to try chemotherapy again. There is no earthly explanation for this, though we’ve certainly tried to find it. We are still surprised and confused by all of it. The only One that is not surprised or confused is God. He knows, and He’s in control.

It’s been months now, and the fall all seems like some sort of dream. I’ve been able to go off of IV chemotherapy and have started on chemo pills. I feel stronger and have been able to do many things I did not think would be even possible a few short months ago. I can go for long walks instead of barely making it from my room to the front porch. I can climb the steps three floors to the chemotherapy unit at the hospital. I was able to go on a much-needed vacation with my husband to Mexico at the beginning of March, and I’m able to ride my bike up the hill in front of our house. We also got to celebrate another year of life on February 12th, making that four years since my diagnosis, despite all the odds being against such a milestone.

In October I was told I was going to die very soon, but strangely enough I was not fearful. I knew that I could trust God in ALL things. That He is in control. I was at peace. Does this mean all my fears are gone? No. Living with cancer, and this current world situation with COVID-19, has brought to surface many fears I thought were long gone. It’s not easy living in a world of ‘what ifs’. I’ve been struggling with doubt and fear a lot over the past few weeks. When I stop looking to God, and start looking at everything else, I start to lose sight of His promises, and start to let fear haunt me again. My battles with anxiety resurface. Then I remember the verse that comes after Philippians 4:4-8, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:9 NLT) Fixing my mind on Christ, and on God’s Word. I don’t know what the future has. But, He does! He is in control, and He has already won! “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:8 NIV)

Community Photos

Larry and Sara Westnedge at Sara’s Induction service in Nelson, BC.

David Dawson and his family’s farewell from Emmanuel Baptist, Victoria.

This regional newsletter is published quarterly within the CBWC’s monthly newsletter, Making Connections. Have a story idea? Want to tell us how great we’re doing? Or how terribly? Email our senior writer, Jenna Hanger: jhanger@cbwc.ca

Making Connections May 2020

Connecting Virtually via Online Assembly

By Esther Kitchener

For where two or three gather in My name, there am I with them.”- Matthew 18:20 

In these past months, many in our family of churches have found creative ways to stay connected through online platforms that offer ways to share the rhythms of life together while maintaining social distancing protocol. 

Sunday and midweek gatherings have expanded even more beyond the walls of the building and seeped into our living rooms, home offices, dorm rooms, and online community. Together we have been invited to think outside the box of what has always been done, towards dreaming of what could be possible. During the absence of Sunday in-person gatherings, we have keenly grown in our awareness of the importance and gift of gathering together, passing the peace, sharing in the Lord’s Supper, singing songs of praise and so much more. I, for one, look forward in anticipation to being able to gather in person with my home church once again! While these life-sustaining and life-enhancing rhythms are usually expressed in an embodied face to face setting, for now, we will connect virtually even as we continue to listen to one another, speak hope, and live out the love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.   

At the denominational level, we have also had to adapt how we do our work together on your behalf. Even though we are all working from home, CBWC staff have stayed engaged with pastors and leaders of our family of churches by gathering via Zoom with regional pastor cluster groups, connecting virtually as regional ministers in a one-on-one basis with pastors, assisting board members and treasurers, and gathering COVID response resources for the ongoing life and work of the church. Our Online Assembly was fortunately already set up and ready to roll as a digital option for you to stay updated and to connect with the broader denominational family. 

Please join your CBWC family of churches on May 21, 2020 at 5:30pm PDT for an encouraging word, video ministry update on Kurios, audited financial statements and proposed budgets for future years. Because of the number of registrants, this is a view-only webinar with an added chat and poll function. Register by May 7, 2020.

Each church may register one pastor and two delegates, plus one additional delegate for every 50 members above 100. Visitors are welcome but will not be able to participate in the voting process. For more information please go to www.cbwc.ca/assembly. 

Covid 19 – Turning a Blight into a Blessing

By Norman K. Archer

“We’ve stayed at work for you. Please stay at home for us.” The dedicated staff of our amazing Retirement Residence in Surrey posted this sign on our Notice Board recently. Our community is remarkably congenial, so to follow this instruction is tough, to say the least. But we’ve got the message.  We are in confinement. We miss each other. We miss Berea Baptist Church and its rich fellowship, too. So how do we cope?

There are a thousand tips in circulation on how to use this enforced isolation productively, so I am not going to waste time by simply repeating what most of us already know. Instead, I am going to itemize some of the things that Mary and I do and that may work for others.

  • The photographs. Yes, I know, this is an oldie, but we’re doing it. The old black and whites when we were so young in ministry, and our kids were small. As we bring them out, blow off the dust, we breathe a prayer of thankfulness to God for having led us and kept us in the myriad of situations we see in the picture. No, we haven’t yet mounted them in the albums that we promised to do a thousand times, nor even digitalized them, so they’ve gone back in the boxes under the bed to gather more dust, ready to re-surface next time.
  • Mary is an Arts and Crafts enthusiast. She was introduced to Mandala Art a few months ago, and our Residence Program Director found her a Christian version and has given her designs to colour in whatever pattern she likes. She is currently working on a doing five different ones for each of our children on the theme of “faith” which she will mount and distribute, maybe for Christmas, to be hung on their walls. These patterns can be obtained online. Google “Christian Mandala Designs.”
  • I love story-telling. A few weeks ago, I began telling a bedtime story by phone to our two youngest granddaughters, aged 9 and 4. When they are ready for bed, they call me and listen on Alexa. I tell them the daily exploits of an adventurous little girl named Daisy May, and her encounters with two mythical characters, the Red Gobble and the Green Gobble. It’s the old struggle of good and evil, the disasters, the rescues and the narrow escapes. I keep them guessing, because I always leave them with a cliff-hanger until the next episode. It’s a great way to bond with family when visits are no longer possible. If you are of my generation, it’s worth trying! If you don’t like creating stories, then tell them each night tales of your childhood.  “When I was your age…” They love to hear about life in “the olden days.”
  • Here’s something great for every generation. I love David Suchet’s rich voice. He played Hercule Poirot in the TV series. He became a dedicated Christian at the age of 40 by reading Romans Chapter 8 from a Gideon Bible in a Hotel Room in Seattle. In March 2017, to a packed congregation in St. Paul’s Cathedral, he read the whole of Mark’s Gospel. The video and sound quality are excellent, and it was one of the most spiritually uplifting two hours we have spent in recent years. We plan on hearing it again at Easter. David has also recorded most of the New Testament, but that is audio only.  Mark is available on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjOgcMQXvSc
  • Now for some nostalgia. In my student days in London, I was greatly influenced by a preacher who later became my mentor, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. I sat, Sunday by Sunday in Westminster Chapel, held spell-bound by his expositions of Scripture. Over 1,600 of his sermons are now available online at no cost. The audio has been remastered and it is very good quality. So now that we can’t go to Berea on Sundays, we stay at home and listen again to one of the sermons on Ephesians that I heard in person 65 years ago. The web site is mljtrust.org.
  • Finally, here’s an idea we have been pondering but have not yet begun. Take the Church Phone List and, starting at the top, phone 5 numbers every day. These 5 families will be the focus of your prayers that day and you can cement your ties to the family of Christ, in spite of—no, because of—COVID 19.

Heed, then, the advice of an old-timer, “Don’t let this enforced seclusion go to waste.”

“And Jesus said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a secluded place ….’”  (Mark 6:31)

In the words of Rudyard Kipling, “…fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run.”

 BCY Regional Newsletter

Discovering Peace by Sarah Emanual

Sharing the Gift of Freedom

A testimony about the plight of Pakistan Refugees in Thailand

By Norm Sowden

Mill Bay Baptist Church has proved to be a family of amazing people and surprising experiences in these last nine years of Church Planting. For example, in the fall of 2018 one of our newest members, Charles, went with his son to Koh Samui, Thailand for a bucket list holiday. He kept his promise to attend church and he came home very excited about Samui Mercy Church, their Pastor Anatcha Pacharoen, as well as a family of four who were seeking sanctuary in the church while their dad was in detention. Making a long story short, our very compassionate and caring church family has now applied to Canada Immigration to sponsor them as refugees. COVID-19 has blown that way off course!

The Thai Government began a new wave of rounding up Christians for detention in November 2019, inspiring Pastor Sarfraz Sagar, Charles and I to travel to Thailand, seeking to encourage Christians. It was also an opportunity for me to gain personal relationships and insight into the lives of followers of Jesus who have fled Pakistan after being promised execution by Taliban affiliates. So much has been made of ISIS over the last several years in our news media, and we seem to forget that the Taliban have been very active in killing whole families of Christians. The situations of families who have fled their homeland over the last ten years is very desperate; they are not wanted in Thailand, they face death returning home and it is very difficult to get any country to consider letting them be sponsored. They are literally suspended in life with virtually no opportunities in any direction.

My heart grieves especially for the children, youth and my new friends and spiritual family members who are now grafted to my heart. They feel despair and depression as they cannot go to school, they cannot apply for jobs legally, they cannot access dental or medical care, if needed. It seems as if they exist in a dimly lit room with no windows or doors to offer any opportunity in any direction! They are pulsating with energy, keen minds and a passionate love for Jesus Christ, but apart from a few hours at church where they can participate in worship, Bible Study and fellowship, they have none of the array of activities and opportunities that our children and youth have. Even then, the very act of going outside their home increases the risk of detention. Every day, is shrouded in a fear that this might be the day that the Immigration Police pound on their door and remove them all to detention. Now, COVID-19 has pressured them to remain indoors except for obtaining essentials. They now depend on support from overseas to survive. If you are experiencing ‘cabin fever’ right now, picture yourself in their place… self-isolating in a 12’x14’ room with a mini-bathroom, shared between three teens and their mom!

Over the last five years, Canadian Baptists have reached out and supported thousands of Syrian refugees. Can we not do the same for our sisters, brothers, their children and youth from Pakistan who cannot return home? Please… embrace the hearts of these children and youth, pray for them, support them, encourage the Canadian Government to renew the passion of five years ago and open a great flow so that hundreds of families who have spent as long as a decade as a refugee circumstances can live and worship alongside us in Canada. They need to know that Jesus loves them and so do we. Please contact Rev. Faye Reynolds at CBWC and begin the process of sharing the gift of freedom with a family who love Jesus but are in desperate need.

Tips for Connecting with Youth Amidst Social-Distancing

There are many challenges we must overcome in this time of social-distancing. Our “new normal” has changed the way we do ordinary life—from work, to church, to simply connecting with people. These challenges are affecting everyone, and are certainly felt by our youth who suddenly find their entire worlds upside down. No longer are they able to spend most their day amongst friends, socializing and learning in school and youth events. With such drastic changes to their social life, young people are going to need to lean on the leaders in their lives.

Youth workers hold a very important role to help support youth in this unique time we are living in.  There have been reports of holding youth events over zoom, meeting for virtual coffee times and other inventive ways to help support and connect with our youth.

Peter Anderson, CBWC’s Director of Next Generation Ministries, has shared some different principles youth workers should consider when planning how best to connect to young people during this precarious time:

During this season of social distancing, youth workers everywhere are establishing new rhythms for connecting with youth.  Here are a couple of principals to keep in mind:

Community over Content

Our youth are bombarded with content every day. Social distancing isn’t blocking content, but it is making authentic meaningful community more difficult. Bible studies and prayer meetings are valuable, but this may be a season to place extra emphasis on creating opportunities for creative fellowship.

 Slow to Speak, Quick to Listen

With most of youth group connection happening virtually, it is easy to adopt the role as “presenter” during online gatherings. Consider taking on more of a facilitator role allowing for youth to speak and truly be heard.

Balance Brokenness and Beauty

We shouldn’t shy away from having those painful conversations about what our youth have lost: graduation events, sporting seasons, freedom to hang out with friends, and more. Youth need space to mourn these losses, while also leaning on us to be reminded of the hope we have in Christ. There are beautiful things happening too.    

 Invite Initiation

It can be easy to fall into a rhythm in which we are always the ones initiating connection with youth. Extend the invitation for them to initiate with you and keep offering. It may be after the 3rd, 4th or 12th invitation that a youth takes you up on the offer.    

“Outsiders” are OK

As someone serving in the church, it’s understandable to feel the weight of the congregation’s well-being. Don’t ignore the needs that you have as well. Prioritize meaningful connection with those you love who are outside of your church community. You’ll be healthier and your youth will benefit.

If you have any questions or need additional support please contact Peter Anderson at panderson@cbwc.ca

Kurios Update

Good news! Kurios, our brand new CBWC gap year experience, is ready and waiting to welcome participants this September. We are confident that, with careful health and safety adjustments, we can proceed as planned. One key adjustment will be limiting the overall number of participants, which means the remaining spots will fill up fast. (Hint: Don’t wait too long to apply!)

More good news! Thanks to the generosity of our CBWC family the Kurios fee for the 2020-2021 year has been reduced from $18,000 to $12,000 per participant. This $6,000 reduction makes Kurios one of the most affordable, if not the most affordable, Christian gap year experience in Canada.

Even more good news! Our website, kurios.ca, is full of fantastic videos, infographics, and details that will help you to discover more about this amazing experience and begin your Kurios journey.

Who in your life needs to consider Kurios? A friend? Someone at your church? In your youth group?  Or maybe it’s you? Please help us spread the word! One Lord. One Life. Kurios.

Copyright ©  2019 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.

Making Connections is the monthly newsletter of the CBWC.

Making Connections April 2020

An Easter Unlike the Rest

A message from CBWC Executive Minister Rob Ogilvie

That first Holy Week was a time unlike any other. Palm Sunday had people rejoicing and celebrating as the new king made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Yet, four days later, that same man was arrested and the following day put to death. And just as His closest followers were trying to understand this new reality, suddenly—miraculously—they learned that the tomb was empty. Jesus was alive!

The week the Saviour of the world defeated sin and death and rose again is a week that will never be forgotten, although this year will be celebrated much differently than usual. No group gatherings, physical distancing and social isolating means that our church buildings will not be filled with people remembering, lamenting and then celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. It will be different, but Easter will not be forgotten. It can’t be forgotten, because it’s the hope of the resurrection that we cling to today in this time of upheaval and uncertainty.

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in Me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in Me will never die.”

Jesus said, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in Me should stay in darkness.”

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

It’s the message of Jesus that lives on, that carries us, that continually reminds us that this world is not all that there is.

Jesus said, “Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust Me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live.”

So, as together we try to understand our reality, and as we live with this great uncertainty, and as this Easter will be celebrated differently, may the Good News be that the Saviour of the world loves you so much that He invites you to love and trust Him back, and allow Him to be your strength, your comfort and your peace.

I wish you all a blessed Easter, and keep well!

Rob

Below you will find a prayer written in early March by Rev. Sam Chaise, as a response to the pandemic which we are in. We thought you might appreciate his words.

A Prayer in the Midst of a New Coronavirus

We come to you, God, as we are.
Not as we’ve heard we should be, not as we think we should be, not even as we hope we will be, but as we are.
And for many of us, if not all, we come in this moment with fear, because the headlines on our screens and in our papers are about the unknown, about a new disease that seems to be stalking the earth and stalking us.
We know of Your promise, and Your call, which says, “Do not fear”, and have to say that at times, that seems a little bit crazy, or at least unrealistic.
And we wonder what You mean by that, because for sure we know You don’t mean that everything’s fine or that everything will necessarily be okay. Perhaps it is a call to remind ourselves that our fear can be enfolded by something larger, some that is not global in scope but larger than the universe. Something that is love.
We confess that we live in such an unusual and amazing time in history that we’re not good at facing these kinds of global threats. We know that most of our ancestors were used to this sort of thing – they were used to living with the unknown because so much then was unknown – they were more used to sickness and death than we are because it was all around them. So we acknowledge that our fear, and our lack of resilience, is actually a sign that we live in a time of great blessing, where the diseases that killed so many in our history are now managed with medication. So, thank You.
We also acknowledge the gift that it is to live in Canada, with the wealth of resources that have been invested in our medical system, and the fact that it is available to all regardless of ability to pay. We pray for parts of the world that would be devastated were this virus to hit them, where there is poverty, minimal health care, and just very little resilience to be able to deal with this virus.
We also pray for the many people who have been, and will be affected by the economic downturn . . .for the millions of people in the Global South who live close to the edge in terms of livelihood, for whom a lack of economic growth means that difference between eating healthy food or perhaps just eating rice. It may be that more people will be harmed by the downturn in the global economy than by the virus itself, and we pray for them.
And we pray for one another. We pray that our fear will not cause us to turn on one another, keep resources from one another, or withdraw from one another. We think of Your people, who lived centuries ago, who were known for the fact that as others were fleeing plague-ridden cities, Christians were marching in, in order to care for the sick, knowing that if they died, they would come alive again in the resurrection. And that because of that, as others marvelled at the courage and sacrifice of Your people, they wanted to know about the God who inspired those people. And we wish we could be like them. We want to be like them.
Or, do we?
At the least, we aspire to that. And, so, if this does get bad, we ask that You fill us with Your Spirit so that Your Church will become known for its courage, hope, and self-sacrifice. What a story that would be . . .
So, in the end, we long for more than a lack of fear. We pray for hope, faith, courage, conviction, resilience, and people who bear witness to a larger story than this current story that is gripping our world.
Amen.

The Remarkable Story of Dr. Gerald Hankins

By Jenna Hanger

There are many times in our life where it feels like what we are going through now will never end. It is easy to be short-sighted, to let the worries of today eclipse the vision of tomorrow. But life is a journey with many twists and turns. Our current worries and stresses will fade away, and new ones will replace them. There is one constant though—one thing we can always depend on to never change—and that is the faithfulness of the Lord.

Dr. Gerald Hankins’ life is a testimony to this. This October will mark his 97th birthday. Born on October 16,1923, he has seen much in his long, remarkable life. In his time, Gerald served in WWII, became a surgeon, then a missionary doctor, then a successful writer. His path has crossed with the likes of Mother Teresa, as well as Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary (the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest) and many other notable persons. 

His mother raised him and his younger brother in a small town outside of Calgary, AB. His childhood years were during the Great Depression, a hard and stressful time for his small family. Education was always of great importance to him, but hard to come by. The only school available to him was a two-room schoolhouse with two teachers who had the enormous task of teaching every subject to their students. Despite that, Gerald was very grateful to have the opportunity to be educated, as this isn’t a luxury everyone has. 

During WWII Gerald joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and served as a radio navigator with the Royal Air Force Squadrons 96 and 176 in Britain, India and Burma. In 1943, Gerald and his pilot were flying near Edinburgh, Scotland in a two-engine fighter plane called The Mosquito when one of their engines failed. A more experienced pilot might have been able to cope, but his pilot was new, like himself. They smashed into some buildings; the pilot was able to walk away unscathed, but Gerald sustained significant fractures to his spine. Three vertebrae were crushed. He ended up in a plaster cast that covered his whole torso for around ten months. While able to be mobile, he couldn’t bend at all. This accident turned out to be one of the most significant instances in his life.

He was recovering in the general ward in the Princess Margaret Rose Hospital in Edinburgh when a middle-aged, grey-haired lady came along and started visiting with him. She suddenly looked at him straight in the eye and asked rather forcefully, “Do you know the Lord?” Gerald had to take a deep breath and he answered honestly that he didn’t. She gave him a little Bible, which he still has to this day, and he started reading it. He didn’t understand it all because of the language, but it was the start of Gerald’s faith journey, the beginning of a process that went on over the years to develop into a steadfast faithfulness.

“That’s one thing I am most grateful for. A wee, Scottish lady having asked that question. She wouldn’t let me dodge it,” Gerald said, laughing as he recounted her forwardness. “I’ll be forever grateful to her.”

After Gerald recovered from his injury, he went back to flying. In 1945, he served with a night fighter group in India until the war ended. Upon his return home, Gerald pursued his education, got married and became a General Surgeon in Calgary, AB. He and his wife, Alison, had five children and they all became involved with the First Baptist Church.

As time went on, Gerald had an interest in becoming a medical missionary. In 1966 he took part in a two-week mission trip to Mexico, but felt anything more extensive should wait until his children were grown. Then, in 1970, an opportunity was presented to him. His friend Dr. Helen Huston needed a locum to cover for her at the United Mission to Nepal hospital in Ampipal, which she had established. The one month commitment turned into a four-year term in 1974 in Kathmandu, which eventually led to twelve years serving as a doctor in Nepal.

When asked if the experience was what he expected, Gerald answered with a resounding, “No!” then laughed. 

“There was good and bad about it. For one thing, the facilities in a mission hospital are pretty primitive. You have to do with second-class materials and equipment. And your staff, goodness knows, are willing but not fully trained. These were the real challenges,” Gerald said. 

The time spent in Nepal, Gerald expressed, was a tremendous experience overall, with many memorable moments. He recounted a particular situation that always stuck with him; a teenage girl who had a fractured femur was carried to their hospital for three days in a basket on someone’s back. The pain she had experienced to get help was unimaginable. He also performed several tracheotomies and dealt with a lot of bowel obstructions. Another time that stands out amongst the sea of memories was working in a field clinic in a very remote village, performing surgery by flashlight. “Those were challenging times,” Gerald laughed. 

These experiences led Gerald to pursue another venture—writing. It started with heading up an enormous project; writing a medical textbook that third world doctors could use. To give patients the best care possible, doctors had to learn how to do surgeries differently than they would in a first world setting, in circumstances that were much less forgiving. The textbook, Surgery in a Third World Country, began by Gerald taking notes on various types of surgeries, then referencing classical textbooks of surgery. The textbook was accepted by local doctors in the country, and they arranged for it to be printed. It went on to have a wide circulation.

“That’s one achievement I can look back on and say, ‘Well I’m glad to have done that’,” Gerald said.

Writing the textbook was a catalyst for a whole new career for Gerald. He returned to Canada in 1986. In the following years he would complete short medical relief missions in Inuvik, N.W.T. Then, in 1990, he officially retired from the medical field to pursue his newfound love of writing.

He ended up writing biographies on Dr. Helen Huston, Dr. Arthur Jenkyns, Dr. Otto Schaefer and Dr. Gary McPherson, all of whom received the Order of Canada. He also published a book on Calgary’s Mustard Seed Street Ministry, and wrote several articles, poems and stories over the years.

When asked why he thinks it’s important to tell others’ stories, Gerald replied, “Because people do worthwhile and interesting things. When you think about people who are willing to go overseas and use their talents to cure diseases or if they are engineers, or whatever, I think skills like that deserved to be preserved in written form.” Gerald shared that one of the highlights of his life was meeting people from various races who have achieved remarkable things in both peace and wartime.

Gerald admitted writing never came particularly easy to him. It took a lot of hard work and dedication, but he is very glad to have done it. “I never planned to do much writing initially, but once you get into the swing of it, it can be very rewarding you know,” Gerald said. “Whether your books reach a wide market, to me never felt to be a major object. If you got something that can be helpful to other people, or express some real good opinions that you have [it’s worth the effort of doing].”

The best advice Gerald can pass on to the next generation is to keep learning and never give up. “I always thought it was important to learn, not to give up on a project or something when you got a start or some skills. Because the people with tenacity and endurance are the ones who get things done in this world,” he said. “Even people with mediocre skills and interests can achieve a lot if they are persistent and constantly seeking to learn new things.”

As for what he would have done differently, Gerald laughed and said, “Just about everything. Could have done a better job all around. I was fortunate enough to be living in a time when there were opportunities galore. [I could have] learned new skills and been trained… could have done better. That’s all I could say in retrospect. Having said that, I am thankful to have opportunities that I could never have anticipated.”

Gerald was inducted into the Alberta Order of Excellence in 2005. He now resides in a little community outside of Red Deer, AB.  

Heartland Regional Newsletter

God’s Faithfulness Through Big Changes | The Appeal of the Heartland Retreat 

Embodied Connection Amidst Physical Distancing

By Mary Dickau from Beulah Garden Homes and founding member of CHAT

In the last 3 weeks at BG Homes, we have been facing down COVID-19 with continuous transitional decisions made toward keeping our resident neighbourhood safe and providing good care. These efforts include empowering our community to stand together, to endure, and to find comfort and peace amidst this pandemic. As one of our team said, “It has been like trying to drink all the water that is coming out of the firehose and not drown!”

For instance, how do we put measures in place towards distancing and self-isolation while living out the Gospel that teaches us to break down the walls of isolation and fear? The very act of self-isolation and quarantine means to being hidden—not heard, not seen, not connected. Last week, some of my friends who are in their 30s and 40s told me that they have always enjoyed time away from others; however, now that it is being enforced as protocol, it does not feel very good to them at all. They feel vulnerable, fearful, alone. One person realized what he is encountering now is something that older adults feel much of the time and more so in these days. Strangely, the fear of COVID-19 has now made people fearful of being around older adults too, “In case they get it.” One person at Beulah said that people are fearful to step on the property and bring supplies to the door of the building, in case they run into a resident who might be outside sitting on a bench. What has been set in place as protection for the vulnerable has become twisted into fear OF the vulnerable. Jesus taught us to replace fear with love. What does that mean in this present situation? How can we participate in the love Christ has for the vulnerable during COVID-19 in ways that embody connection while keeping everyone safe?

‘Be Careful but do not be Afraid.’ Fear is so normal for us but God’s response—seen clearly in the gospels—is for us to bring our fear to the One who will replace our fear with love. Loving people in a fearful time has such power of life and this Christ-light shows up strongly in the darkness of these days. Of course, before I can love well, I need to recognize and bring my own fear to Christ; to trust Jesus for readying me to ‘live the gospel’ in the instances of my work and home. I have needed to recognize that being careful and wise is NOT the same thing as being afraid. COVID-19 is giving me an opportunity to practice how to live the Love of God well in fearful circumstances.

The Spirit of God, who has hovered over darkness since before the beginning of time while initiating life, comfort and peace, has a surprising way for us to follow. One surprise at Beulah has been the institution of Patio Concerts. We can no longer physically gather, but two musicians came with their fiddles and guitar to walk around the outside of our buildings playing music. Residents could open their windows, step out on their patios, cheer, and wave to each other. Some residents even came outside to dance and play in the sun— while keeping appropriate distance. We had a beautiful time. Perhaps joy, laughter and comfort are more possible in these days, where we can no longer take our physical life for granted. At a conference on Aging, hosted by Regent College years ago, Maxine Hancock said that one of the best ways to live the Christian life well was to contemplate our mortality for fifteen minutes every day. She explained that as we face our own physical death, we remember that we are finite beings, but also that Christ lives in us forever and has defeated death. Contemplating this mystery gives me a sense of deep grace and hope that reaches far beyond my days and abilities, along with a response of gratitude and increased strength for the day.

Throughout history, Christians have been known by their response to plagues and pandemics. They have walked in when the world walked out. They have held hope in the face of death. While we are all figuring out how to walk the way of Christ in these present circumstances, I invite you to consider how the truth of these words impact you and your community’s response: “There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear.”

Be careful, but don’t be afraid.

About the author:

Mary Dickau offers Spiritual and Community Care for a community of more than 350 Older Adult residents at Beulah Gardens. Mary is an elder at Grandview Calvary Baptist Church, and her other job is facilitating an urban retreat called Stillpointe, where she hosts weekly rhythms of prayer and meets with people for Spiritual Direction and Healing Prayer. She is passionate about looking for the love and grace of God found within our shared stories and journey of life. Mary’s family includes three adult sons, two daughters-in-law, a grandson, a therapy dog named Bella and whoever walks in their door. Mary is a founding member of CHAT.

For more information about CHAT Canada, and to keep up to date about their services and events visit their website https://chatcanada.org.

Event Updates: Covid-19

Online Assembly: Registration open

NMO: Rescheduled for 2021
OEC: Postponed to later in 2020
BLTS/Ascent Reunion: Postponed to later date (yet to be determined)
BCY Assembly: Registration open
Banff Pastors Conference: Registration opens May 1st
SERVE: Cancelled. See you in 2021!

Copyright ©  2019 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.

Making Connections is the Monthly Newsletter of the CBWC.  

Heartland Regional Newsletter April 2020

Seeing God’s Faithfulness through Big Life Changes

A note from Pastor Garth Plamping, from Asquith Baptist Church

What a great God we serve! 

My wife, Cara and I are thrilled to have joined the CBWC last March, to serve at Asquith Baptist Church. We have been married for 18 years. Our boys, Hezekiah (12) and Amos (10), are homeschooled.

Over the last decade, I have been privileged to serve as an associate Pastor and as a bi-vocational Pastor in Calgary and the surrounding area.

I have to admit, we were a little nervous when we received the call to come to Asquith. This would be the largest move since Cara and I married, leaving all our social networks behind.

As we dialogued with the church, prayed with our family, and sought advice, Cara and I believed the Lord was calling us to make the move. We said yes to my first full time Pastorate.

I am happy to say that God is faithful. Yes, change brought stress, as change always does. But God has brought us into a province with wonderful people who have a heart to serve the Lord and each other.

Through the Lord’s faithfulness, we have grown through the many challenges and joyous events that have happened over the last year, both personally and with the church.

Our family has spent a huge amount of time in the mountains. Like most people in Alberta, we had heard all kinds of stereotypes regarding the land in Saskatchewan. Yet we were determined to discover the jewels of Saskatchewan. So far, we have not been disappointed. Our family has had a number of wonderful experiences, both in nature, and at a number of museums and parks.

For those of you who are in their first year with the CBWC, I encourage you to connect with Mark Doerksen, and to take advantage of the mentorship that is offered. I have found both Mark and my mentor, Ron Phillips from Regina, to be valuable, not just in acclimating me to the CBWC, but they have helped me process my ministry and helped me serve my people better.

As Asquith Baptist Church looks forward to the excitement of spring and summer, can I ask you to pray for us?

Pray that I would continue to learn from my people, to grow in my faith, and to lead people through faithfully teaching God’s word. Like many of you, we have many ministry events that the people of Asquith Baptist will pour their time and energy into. Pray that we will minister in love, and with a boldness that will reach the community of Asquith and the surrounding RMs.

Garth Plamping, Pastor at Asquith Baptist Church

The Appeal of the Heartland Retreat

By Mark Doerksen 

Superbowl Sunday is an important day for plenty of people, especially as folks host viewing parties and cheer on their teams.  Yet Superbowl Sunday also typically signals an important event in the Heartland Region. There’s a 24-year tradition in the Heartland, and it’s called the Heartland Pastor and Spouse Retreat at Russell, Manitoba.  It happens every February at the Russell Inn, the Monday after Superbowl Sunday. The retreat has been happening longer than this, but we’ve had the retreat at this location since Wayne Larson was Heartland Regional Minister.  It’s been great to see the relationships that have developed between the hotel staff and the Heartland Regional Office, and we are so pleased to enjoy their hospitality each year. 

The retreat is made up of scheduled activities, free time, and worship sessions, and we try to instill relationship-building as one of our main emphases at the retreat. We try to have at least one event where we pit our Saskatchewan contingent against our Manitoba contingent.  In previous years, we’ve curled against each other; the last two years, we’ve played crokicurl.  Team Saskatchewan is deceptively good, and have been crokicurl champions for the last 2 years. Team Manitoba has proven to be reluctant losers at such events.

One of the highlights of the retreat each year is the food that is served.  Cindy works with the staff in coming up with a menu each year, and the hotel catering staff always does exceptional work for us. The helpings are generous, and the food is terrific, and we always feel well cared for.

Of course, we also have significant times of worship and teaching as well.  Chris Neudorf led us again in terms of our singing together.  This year we had Brendon and Karen facilitate conversations on Paying Attention to God, to self, and to others. It was a time where they each brought their strengths to the conversation, and we were reminded of how important attentiveness is in all areas of life.  Brendon described their presentations as bearing witness, speaking of how these themes work themselves out in their lives. I was deeply encouraged by these sessions, and challenged as well. 

We do allow for significant free time, and people enjoy this—though being in Manitoba in February usually means that this free time is spent indoors.  Our evenings are spent together playing games; sometimes we have crokinole tournaments, others play Wizard, and so forth.  It’s fun to watch our retreaters display their competitiveness.  I, for one, know that there are some people that I will no longer play Dutch Blitz with, as I get tired of losing time after time.

One of the pieces of this retreat that I’ve appreciated is that of building relationships.  It’s fun to see pastors and non-pastors connect with each other, and these relationships spill out beyond

the confines of the retreat.  The connections continue to happen afterwards, and it’s great to see the support that is fostered in our all-too-brief time together.

All of this is to say that now, when a new pastor comes to the Heartland, I really encourage them to come to this retreat. Banff is a spectacular conference, of course, but this retreat has a different feel altogether, obviously, with important opportunities for relationship building.  I’m grateful for this tradition in the Heartland, and I hope it continues for a long time.

This regional newsletter is published quarterly within the CBWC’s monthly newsletter, Making Connections. Have a story idea? Want to tell us how great we’re doing? Or how terribly? Email our senior writer, Jenna Hanger: jhanger@cbwc.ca

Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter March 2020

Trust is the Measure of Your Ministry! 

Trust is the measure of your ministry. A person can be 100% right and people may not trust them. A person can make significant mistakes and yet people may still trust that individual. Just because a person has good reasoning skills and relevant head knowledge does not mean people will automatically place “trust.”

There is no class you can take in seminary that makes assurances that people will trust you. There is no past experience you can go through, no significant book you can write, and no quality reference given by another that can make people trust you. Then again, not all people who are trusted should be granted that privilege.

We live in a world of broken trust. People often point out (albeit inaccurately) the percentage of marriages that end in divorce. Politically, we can speak of treaties not followed. Businesses make agreements and then break them through some loophole. Too often politicians have said one thing and done another. The news emphasizes clergy that are guilty of moral inconsistency. Parents have been heard saying to their children, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

Is it any wonder that the world is in a mess today? For the average person coming into the world today, the concept must be very strange one when we say “Trust God!”

We depend and trust in our bank accounts, our hard work, our achievements, our ancestry, our self-perceived position in society, our reputation, our plans, our discerning skills, our ability to defend ourselves, our goodness and other facets feeding our sense of self-sufficiency.

One stock market crash, one job loss, one hospital visit, one accident, one internet thief, one virus taking root… any of these can change our plans and perspective. It might even bring us back to reality.

Whatever happened to understanding “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10)? That kind of attitude makes one humble. It leaves one in awe of our Creator. It makes a person an individual of integrity even when no one is looking. It makes one trustworthy—worth being trusted. Even when we do everything right it does not mean people will trust us; that is a choice others make on their own. We do not make trust in ministry by doing our stuff, but by doing His—and it is usually over the long haul! It is not really about having people follow us, but it is all about our following Him. Too often people seek to go up some invisible ladder to make themselves a capable leader, when going down the ladder is likely more important. Keeping our attitude in check is the greater accomplishment. Unfortunately, it can be faked, so be genuine!

May all of us seek the proper balance of humility while being courageous in our own setting!

Your co-worker, Dennis Stone

The Chaplain’s Corner

 

It is always good to hear about the pastors and churches in the Mountain Standard Region, and to listen to the stories that bring our region together and identify us with the long history of the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada (CBWC). There is a story that often remains behind the scenes, but deserves some recognition, as well. That is the story of the chaplains.

We have a number of different types of chaplains in our region, including a chaplain for the Edmonton Police, military chaplains, mandated lay chaplains, health care chaplains, prison chaplains, community chaplains and athletic chaplains, among others. I began my journey into health care chaplaincy only about two years ago, so although I am passionate about the work of companioning with others through various health conditions in various environments (long-term care, acute care, mental health), I realize I am a relative “newbie” when I read the list of chaplains in our region!

Often when I introduce myself as a chaplain, people ask me, “What does that mean?” Sometimes, patients assume we are there to give them “religious” advice or to get them to believe in God. One time, a lady who had requested I visit her after she chose to discontinue the life-sustaining treatment she was on, said to me, “Okay, I guess now is when I tell you how I made my decision, and then you will tell me if it is right or wrong.” I explained that I was there to accompany her on her journey with the decisions she makes. Chaplains are committed to providing client-centered care.

Outside of the chaplaincy work environment, there is also confusion about what a chaplain does. People will ask, “So, do you have the same qualifications as a pastor?” In order to become a certified Spiritual Care Practitioner with CASC/ACSS, we must have a minimum Master of Theology Studies (or other 2-year Master’s level theological degree) or Master of Divinity degree and then enter and successfully complete a program of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). CPE is comprised of four units of supervised chaplaincy along with intense theological reflection and psychodynamic group work. We are required to take a faith-based ethics course as well as a professional ethics course and write papers demonstrating competencies in spiritual care.

Within our health care environments, chaplains are called on to minister to and work with patients, their families and friends, as well as staff in health care facilities. We are considered an important part of multi-disciplinary teams, often providing other members of the health care team with insights into why patients might be behaving in certain ways or making certain choices. Chaplains are called on to provide guidance for ethical questions or dilemmas and participate on ethics boards/committees.

As chaplains mature through their chaplaincy work, some may choose to enter into guiding new students (either as a clinical preceptor or as supervisor-educator) through the CPE program and certification processes. We are privileged to have preceptors in our denomination- Reverend Lyn Beddoes, Reverend Jane Christenson, and Chaplain Becky Vink. We also have a newly certified Supervisor-Educator—Reverend Brent Watts—one of only three such supervisors in the Edmonton area and the only one in Edmonton working with Alberta Health Services.

I recently spoke with Brent about his journey to becoming a Certified Supervisor-Educator. He spoke of the additional coursework and papers required. He also assured me that he has by no means arrived and he is currently pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree from Carey Theological College.

I noticed at the most recent AGM of the Alberta Association for Spiritual Care (AASC), that eight of the approximately 40 spiritual care practitioners in attendance were a part of the CBWC–that is 20%! Three of the 10 AASC board members are part of the CBWC, representing 30% of the board. The CBWC is very well-represented within spiritual care providers in the health care and other environments in Alberta! I think this speaks highly of a healthy theological ethos within the CBWC, of which I am glad to be a part.

Respectfully submitted –

Kathy Brown, MS Region Administrative Associate Student and Casual Chaplain

 

MS Region Chaplains

Calgary

Cassandra Coster, James Scorgie, Becky Vink

Central  Ricky Williams

Edmonton Lyn Beddoes, Becky Bonham, Kathy Brown, Jane Christensen, Heather Donovan, Dean Eisner, Susan Hunter, Garret Parsons, Lawrence Peck, Gordon Poley, Howard Rittenhouse, Kayley Sanders, Amanda Strain, Craig Traynor, Brent Watts

Peace Herman Friesen, Paul Hebert

South Anna Braun, Jack Knight, Stefan Ulrich

2020 Gull Lake Ministers Retreat

We had better numbers and an excellent experience at this year’s annual retreat. Our Regional Advisory Group prepped this event so that it went off without a hitch. Every part went well. Even the weather was decent. It started with our spiritual reflection workshop led by Brian Burkhart. Brian started and attends our Webster Community Church. The past few years he led a retreat centre in Germany. He learned that the European community appreciates the visual arts, so that was part of his presentation, which was to our largest group yet to this part of the retreat. Tuesday saw Lynn Dietz and Brian Archer from the Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada present some of their insights into discipleship. This theme is important to all of us regardless of our role, so the thoughtfulness on this topic was

appreciated. Wednesday ended with a testimonial by Brian Burkhart and then communion. Future years will be measured against this one. If you are a pastor or chaplain, don’t miss this event next February.

We also saw the brand-new Gull Lake Centre buildings that are almost completed. We heard about Gull Lake Camp’s 100th anniversary scheduled for June 13th. They expect about 800 people at that event. One interesting piece from the retreat was that our presenter, Lynn Dietz, knew that his dad came to Christ at Gull Lake Camp, but he had never been there before. In coming to the camp, he had come full circle with his spiritual heritage.

This regional newsletter is published quarterly within the CBWC’s monthly newsletter, Making Connections. Have a story idea? Want to tell us how great we’re doing? Or how terribly? Email our senior writer, Jenna Hanger: jhanger@cbwc.ca

Making Connections March 2020

The Season of Lent

 

The season of Lent 2020 began on Ash Wednesday, February 26 and extends the length of 40 days ending on Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday.

The season of Lent is patterned after the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert. It is an opportunity to deeply reflect on where our lives may be misaligned with, or distracted from, the life and mission of God. The invitation in this season is towards confession, shaped by an understanding of the grace of God shown to us in the renewal of life on Easter Sunday. In order to appreciate the gravity and wonder of Easter we must first journey the darkened path of our human condition. In order to do this reflective work and diminish the distraction people try to give something up or take something on for the next forty days—sometimes this can establish a new pattern of behaviour that helps us align once again with God’s heart and His resurrected life within us. For example, some people will fast, or give up social media or TV for the duration of Lent. Others might intentionally set aside time to read the Bible daily for the forty days or begin a new devotion book. The point is, whatever you decide to do, the end goal should be to spend time with the Lord and focus on what He wants to teach you, as you prepare for Easter.

This year we are suggesting Scot McKnight’s book, 40 Days Living the Jesus Creed, which is a devotional book based on his book titled, The Jesus Creed. Scot McKnight,Ph.D is an award-winning author and a Julius R. Mantey Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. He is also going to be the guest speaker at this year’s Banff Pastor and Spouses conference. He uses his book to help people to reflect on, pray about and practice loving God and loving others.

“We tend to think of Lent as a time of sorrow and repentance and grief, and that is one of its core ideas.” McKnight wrote on the patheos.com website. “But we don’t grieve in order to heighten our capacity to grieve, or repent so we can focus on our ability to repent. If Lent has its proper impact, it will form us spiritually—and to be formed spiritually is to grow in love of God and love of others.”

40 Days Living the Jesus Creed is a short 40-Day devotional that will challenge you and help guide you this Lenten season.

Click here to purchase a copy.

Enabling Others to Preach

By Jenna Hanger

 

Not all people gifted with teaching and public speaking are pastors. A lot of people have these gifts but don’t necessarily have the opportunity to use them in a ministry setting.

Pastor Jeff Gullacher, from Trinity Baptist Church in Sherwood Park, has come up with a program for this exact purpose; to help others develop their gifts and abilities and provide opportunities for them to step out of their comfort zones.

This is the second year the Preaching Lab has been operating, and so far, it has been met with great success.

“The heart behind it is three-fold,” says Pastor Gullacher. “First off, it is basically celebrating that lay people can do everything a pastor does. The difference is I am going to preach more often but other people can [preach as well], and God can use their preaching just as much as He can use mine.”

The second reason, Pastor Gullacher goes on to explain, is that at a functional level it is helpful to be able to share the workload of preaching. Many churches will bring in special guest speakers or do a pulpit switch, but by helping develop the skills of congregates through the Preaching Lab, the church is able to get someone local who knows the members quite well to share a message.

And thirdly, if Pastor Gullacher takes a sabbatical in the future then there will be a strong line-up of people who could fill in on Sunday mornings.

It’s all about enabling people. The program itself runs very efficiently; it starts off in September and runs till June. Participates meet around seven or eight times throughout. The first half is all about how to do in-depth Bible studies. The goal is to give people a good template for how to get the most out of the text. They are given exegetical homework, and a lot of what they come up with Pastor Gullacher actually uses in his sermons.

“It’s kind of fun, because I announce before my sermon that if you hear any new ideas or deep thoughts, a lot of the background work came from the Preaching Lab participants,” Pastor Gullacher said.

As the year goes on, they switch more to outlining sermons and delivery tips. By February, the group is ready to start putting their skills into practice. First, they deliver their sermons in front of each other, and any friends or family they want to invite.

Then they are challenged to find a medium-sized gathering to deliver their sermon to. For example; they might share at a men’s breakfast, or small group or a retreat. It is their prerogative to seek out that opportunity.

As the program begins to wind-down, they have the opportunity to speak in front of the church. This usually happens sometime after Easter. Pastor Gullacher is there behind the scenes, giving tips and reviewing drafts of their sermons before they deliver it Sunday morning.

In order for the program to run smoothly, Pastor Gullacher suggests capping the amount of people at around half a dozen.

“I would cap it, logistically, because you want to have a realistic chance for people to preach and preach multiple times. You get better at it by doing it, so you want the ability for people to do it a lot,” said Pastor Gullacher. “Half a dozen is really important, so you can help each person enough. They send draft copies of studies or sermon manuscripts; some don’t require a lot of feedback but some do, and if group is too big it would require a lot of work.”

The Preaching Lab is a practical and exciting way to cultivate leadership in your church. If you would like more information on how the program works you can contact Pastor Gullacher at jeff@tbcsherwoodpark.ca.

Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter

The Chaplain’s Corner | Gull Lake Ministers Retreat | Trust is the Measure of your Ministry!

Coldest Day of the Year

 

Winters in Canada can be brutal. Especially this year when we have experienced record-breaking cold spells. Imagine trying to survive in this weather without the safety and warmth of your home. That is what the Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser is all about; bringing awareness to the struggles that people who live on the streets face every day, and raising funds for organizations who, according to the Mustard Seed website, serve the “hungry, homeless and hurting in over 100 communities across Canada.”

There were many people involved in this year’s event who represent the CBWC. The Forge Church in Victoria BC, as well as the Southwest Community Church in Kamloops were two such groups who entered teams into the fundraiser event and walked the 2, 5 or 10km distance. Pastor Shannon Youell and Pastor Andrea Tisher shared their team’s experience.

Pastor Shannon – Forge Church:

At the Forge church, Victoria BC, we are a community endeavouring to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and to love our neighbours as ourselves. Gathering in our community on a Sunday, we have people from many different walks of life, including those suffering hunger, homelessness and hurt.

We long to demonstrate and tell stories of God’s love for all the world that does not exclude but invites. Thus, joining the Canada-wide event The Coldest Night is an outflow of who we are becoming as missional disciples of Jesus and one way to literally put our feet to the ground and walk the streets where many end up calling ‘home.’

Our team of walkers ranged in age from 4 months to 80+ years as we walked the 5km route (one of our team chose the 10km route). Donning our Coldest Night toques along with hundreds of other walkers, we took to the streets with smiles on our faces to all we encountered along the way. Surpassing our team fundraising goal was awesome, but most poignant was the time spent back at the Mustard Seed sharing the regular Saturday night meal with those who consider the Seed their safety and comfort zone and perhaps, for some of us, seeing these folks as our neighbours to love for the very first time.

Pastor Andrea- Southwest Community Church:

The event went great! The national goal was to raise $6 million and they almost made it! As of right now, they’re at 97% of their goal and donations are still coming in.

Meanwhile, for the Kamloops walk, we are at about the same as the national levels, almost making our goal of raising $26,000 for Mustard Seed Kamloops. Out of 22 teams, the Southwest Striders came first out of 22 teams for fundraising! We had a team of 21 walkers signed up and a few more registered on the spot and joined in, so I think we had about 25 in total.

Our goal had been to raise $1000 for Mustard Seed Kamloops- one of our ‘mission partners’, which means we commit to giving about $5000 to them annually. But we far surpassed our goal and managed to raise a little over $3000! With donations ranging from $10-$200, every little bit counts. It seems that raising money for helping people experiencing homelessness is something that our friends and family can get behind regardless of their faith background. One participant sent her fundraising page link to everyone in her office and discovered a whole bunch of people who were really happy to help.

As a pastor, I’m delighted by the way the walk gave us an opportunity to connect with one another, with a local organization, and with the wider Kamloops community. Sometimes it can seem like we’re all off doing our own thing—this church working for this, that church focusing on something else, and then non-faith-based groups doing yet other things. This was a great way to join together for the sake of a common cause.

Upcoming BLTS Alumni Reunion

This year we are excited to launch the new CBWC Gap Year Experience, Kurios. Beginning this fall, students will have the opportunity to be part of a 28-week program that will challenge and help them grow in their relationship with the Lord Jesus.

This program is built on the foundations of CBWC’s previous gap year programs, BLTS and ASCENT. These programs greatly affected many people over the years and on May 22-24, 2020, these memories will be resurfacing at the BLTS and ASCENT Reunion. The weekend will include sharing stories and experiences, reconnecting and learning about the new Kurios program.

Marcel Leffelaar, Mary Martin and Fay Puddicombe are three such alumni whose experience with BLTS shaped their lives. Below is a snapshot of their stories.

Marcel Leffelaar- Former BLTS Choir/Music Teacher:

BLTS was perhaps the most significant place I could have been involved in ministry during the early years of raising our high energy family. Involved in the spiritual formation of gifted, intelligent and dedicated young people was both challenging and inspiring for me. Our four sons (Daniel, Philip, Joshua, Jordan) had the privilege of fulfilling ‘mascot-like’ roles when they interacted with these school students, coming to believe that all teenagers were amazing human beings – strong, witty & fun-loving, and that they wanted to be just like them when they grew up; a kind of Greek god and goddess status. Their welcoming influence helped shape each of our boy’s own spiritual development, later going on to complete the LTD program at Gull Lake Camp and as well as the new ASCENT and OUTTA TOWN Programs. 

BLTS was a magical place for me also as I took on the responsibility of trying to corral all voices in the student body each year to achieve a simultaneous unity of heart in sound in the presentation of all the songs we had set out to learn. Simply put, it was nothing short of a miraculous transformation between September and April when we set out for choir tour, with cassette recordings in hand, to share with churches over the next few weeks what we’d worked so hard to learn together. This was tremendously rewarding work for me and though at times I felt like I was in over my head with my choral and ensemble aspirations, I was always loved, affirmed and encouraged by my students. I am deeply indebted to, and grateful for, all the students that helped shape and love my family and I during my years of ministry there. 

Mary Martin (Davies)- 7th BLTS Class 1955-1956:

When BLTS opened in the early 1950s, information was sent to churches in Western Canada – a six-month program with courses developed to help young people grow in their Christian lives and become effective workers in their local churches. My older brother decided to attend BLTS for the 1954-55 school year. He found it very helpful and had made many good friends before he continued his post-secondary education, so I decided to follow his example.

 

When I graduated from high school in 1955, I knew I wanted to become a nurse, but did not have a lot of self-confidence. I thought that time away from home in a place where I could learn more about my faith, the Bible, and be with like-minded people would be worthwhile.  Living for several months in close quarters with 30 young people from various backgrounds and churches was a challenge at first, but as the year progressed we became a family. I found the courses and practical work helped as I continued my education. I think one of the most important points I learned was that you need to be a full-time, even if imperfect, Christian regardless of where you are and what you’re doing: at home, at school, at work or at leisure.  Although it’s many years since I left BLTS, I often think of experiences I shared with my classmates, and remember the faculty, staff, and the old building we were in! Although I’ve moved several times, I still have my yearbook!  

 

I was sorry to hear BLTS had closed a number of years ago. However, I have recently heard about the Kurios “gap” program being set up by CBWC, with a similar philosophy to BLTS, but geared to the youth of the 2020s. I hope and pray that it will continue the BLTS legacy of combining Biblical content with practical experience.

Fay Puddicombe- Former Dean of Residence:

My BLTS experience was unique in that not only did I have my own wonderful years’ experience (72-73), but my husband and I were Deans of Residence for four years (80-84). We had the joy of walking with four groups of young people in their amazing time at BL. Living in a Christian community is a great experience. Not only do you learn and grow through the teaching you receive, but also from experiencing the year with others walking with you. And I have life-long friends from those years!

The Kurios experience that has been developed looks amazing- wish I was 20 again! Young adults will be richly blessed to be part of this adventure.

The schedule for the Reunion is as follows:

DATES:  Friday – Sunday, May 22-24, 2020

LOCATION: Altadore Baptist Church, 4304 – 16 Street SW, Calgary AB, T2T 4H9

WORKING SCHEDULE (Subject to Change):

Friday, May 22

   7:00pm – 9:00pm – Dessert Reception at Altadore Baptist

Saturday, May 23

   9:30am – 11:00am – Class Connect Brunch

   1:00pm – 4:00pm – Free time

     Optional Activities Include

     – Tour the BLTS Facility

     – Prepare an impromptu hand bell, choral, drama or puppet show performance

     – Take a stroll to “My Favorite Ice Cream Shoppe”

     – More options to come

   5:00pm – 8:00pm – Reunion Banquet

     – Alumni Performances, Sharing of Stories, Slideshow, Kurios Preview and more

Sunday, May 24

   – There is no official program on Sunday.  You are encouraged to worship at the church you attended while at BLTS or ASCENT.

COST:  $95.00/person

Includes all programs, meals and receptions listed above. Does not include transportation to/from the reunion or accommodation.

To register, click the link below:

https://cbwcevents.sunergo.net/qry/sb_conf_registration.taf?_filter_conf_id=46

Copyright ©  2019 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.

Making Connections is the Monthly Newsletter of the CBWC.  

BCY Regional Newsletter February 2020

A “Treasure” We Were Privileged to Know: Roy Simeon, August 4, 1956 – Nov 30, 2019

Written by Pastor Bob Swan from First Baptist Vancouver

 

Sixty-three years ago, Roy was born into the Haida First Nation on British Columbia’s North Coast. His childhood and adolescent years were troubled and difficult. He struggled to teach himself the skills that are needed to hold down a job. But whenever he had a chance to work, that is what he did. He experienced a large variety of work places.

Near the age of twenty, Roy got a job at a car-crushing metal recycling plant. One of his jobs was to remove the documents from the glove compartments of cars before the crusher hit. But on one fateful day, a new young operator dropped the crusher before the light turned “green” and before Roy had removed the documents. This man’s error cost Roy his right arm.

He was still in the hospital recovering when he heard that the young man who made the “error” was out drinking heavily trying to erase the memory of the accident. Roy then asked that the young man be brought to his bedside.

His request was granted and Roy “seized the moment.” He consoled the young man and told him that is was indeed an accident and that he was forgiven. Roy told him that he needed to forgive himself and give himself a chance to live well. He blessed the young man in the midst of his own suffering.

Some years after the accident Roy made his way to Vancouver and met his wife to be, April.  She recalled seeing Roy’s right-arm prothesis and his right-hand hook for the first time. She said, “I loved him and it was irrelevant to me whether he had one arm or two.”

They married and shared life together with all its struggles and challenges. The “brokenness” they shared was crippling and they ended up on the street; homeless and addicted. April recalled the tough times of living under a bridge near Powell Street and Heatly Avenue in Vancouver.  Those were very difficult years but by God’s grace they made it into a recovery program in a home called, “OUR HOUSE.” It was at this home that Roy heard about our First Baptist Shelter and he soon showed up to volunteer.

That was more than 10 years ago and it turned out to be an enormous help for Roy and April and a gigantic blessing for First Baptist Vancouver, myself and many others. Roy gave thanks to God for his “new life” and poured out God’s grace to many in our shelter, to us as staff, and to the homeless in the alleys near our church. Whenever Roy was present and an argument or fight was about to erupt, Roy’s God-given voice conveyed authority, wisdom and grace. Roy was the best peacemaker we ever had. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9

Roy also proved the words of Isaiah 58 to be true:

“Is this not the fast which I choose, [says the Lord],…Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked, to cover him; and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then your light will break out like the dawn, and your recovery will speedily spring forth; and your righteousness will go before you;…Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’… 10 And if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom will become like midday…; and you will be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of the streets in which to dwell.”

Not only did Roy volunteer at a number of churches but he was determined to learn a new skill, and he did. He became a Computer Tech after graduating from CDI College in Computer Technology.

Roy also attended First Baptist on Sunday mornings and helped with security for 8 years. His smile, while greeting people on their way into our fellowship hall after the service was over, is emblazoned on the minds of hundreds of people who came in for coffee.

Whenever Roy was engaged in a conversation with someone, he gave them his full attention and greeted them with his incredible smile. He would slightly squint his eyes and look right through you and you knew he was reading you. He was very perceptive.

Roy had an incredible sense of humour and God used that to help us in many tough times; even on the day of his passing.

I thank God that twenty-one years ago, First Baptist Vancouver gave permission for us to start the Shelter Program, because without it, I may never have gotten to know Roy Simeon. He was one of God’s great gifts to us.

We thank God for Roy and we miss him deeply. He is now with Jesus, his Saviour; his suffering from accidents and cancer has ended and he is at peace. 

His friend and pastor,

Bob Swann

Matthew 5:16  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Revelation 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood people from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

Mark your Calendar!

July 2-5, 2020:  BCY Assembly/BC Convention and Pastors and Spouses Retreat in Nelson, BC

July 2-3: Guest Speaker- April Yamasaki. April is an ordained minister with 25 years of pastoral ministry experience. She is currently the Resident Author at Valley Crossway Church and the Editor of the monthly magazine; Purpose: everyday inspiration. She also writes numerous articles online and in print on Christian living and spiritual growth and is the author of many books.

July 3-5: Assembly

 On-line Assembly:  May 21, 2020

 Banff Pastors Retreat:  Nov 2-5, 2020

 Keats Camps registration is now open! Go to https://keatscamps.com for more info!

This regional newsletter is published quarterly within the CBWC’s monthly newsletter, Making Connections. Have a story idea? Want to tell us how great we’re doing? Or how terribly? Email our senior writer, Jenna Hanger: jhanger@cbwc.ca

Making Connections February 2020

Marriage & Relationships: Advice to Succeed

 

 

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, it is the perfect time to think about how to bless your significant other. Whether it’s with flowers or chocolates and cards (or my personal favourite, some kid-free time to read) it is a great time of year to show your affection in the form of gifts.

However, we all know that whether you are dating or married, maintaining a healthy relationship takes more than just giving gifts once a year. It’s important to have a strong foundation and to always be open for improvement. To that end, we have asked different pastors and youth workers for their top relationship advice.

Marriage Advice:

Your spouse doesn’t have to be your ‘everything’…that’s too great a burden to bear. You each get to be human and you’ll need people other than your spouse in your life. 

Love your spouse not as you want to be loved but as they do. Personality differences mean that they may have different needs/wants when it comes to communication, schedule, everything! And it takes time to learn those differences. So be patient but also intentional about figuring out what makes each of you feel loved and supported. The lists may be very different for each of you. Every marriage looks a little different. So, by all means watch other marriages, but don’t expect yours to perfectly resemble any one marriage you see.                                                        

-Andrea Tisher from Southwest Community Church, Kamloops BC

Jordan and I can agree on one lesson that has been the most important for our relationship’s stability.  Do not avoid conflict. Even if confrontation means that there might be a fight, don’t fear it. We can give all these tips on how to do conflict well, how to respect each other in an argument, and those are important, but the key is to not run from it. By all means, take a moment to cool down. Ask Holy Spirit to be present and guide the conversation. Just make sure you have the hard conversation sooner rather than later. If the two of you cannot find a resolution, find a counsellor, speak with a trusted friend or Pastor, ask for help. Great things happen in relationships when a conflict is worked through, but tension will always remain if it is ignored or forgotten. When we reconcile with each other, we imitate God’s relationship with creation. We were in conflict with God once sin entered this world, and Jesus came to defeat our enemy. Jesus willingly entered into conflict, into battle, to reconcile our relationship with the Triune God. That is our example for marriage; enter the conflict so relationship can be reconciled.

-Tash Ingram from Westview Baptist Church, Calgary AB

Relationship and Dating Advice:

For my wife and I, we have always adhered to the principle that if you put God first in your life, the rest will follow and fall in their proper places. This principle beautifully applies to marriages and to people who are dating. I have always preached to people who are dating to look for a person who has the “Fear of the Lord.” This is the fear that honours the Lord! A person who puts God first and has a healthy fear of the Lord will be convicted by the Holy Spirit to put away his or her pride and apologize if they are in the wrong. 

-Clinton Legaspi from Filipino Evangelical Church, Winnipeg, MB

I wish Jordan and I had asked people to more boldly speak into our life and relationship. There was so much we figured out, but could have had a lot more peace if we had asked for support. We spent time with friends and family as a couple, but did not talk with those we trusted about what was hard. I wish we had prayed together more and asked more people to pray for us. In my reflections, I have realized that we isolated ourselves. Ask people to mentor you as you pursue dating relationships seriously, and don’t forget your friends. Trust Jesus and pray that the Holy Spirit would give you wisdom.

-Tash Ingram from Westview Baptist Church, Calgary AB

 I would advise the couple to place God at the center of their relationship by intentionally setting a time to pray together. When praying together, they can both know God together, and discover who He is and His love for them. When they pray together they can also listen together, and this will help them know what God has in store for them. When they pray together they will get to know each other better. To quote Timothy Keller, “It is in prayer, you can see yourself for who you really are.” It is by praying together, they become truly vulnerable before God, and by doing so, the couple will be able to begin to truly know each other’s hearts. 

Depending how far they are into their relationship, I would also advise them to talk about love languages, and learn about what the love languages are. Learn about how they feel loved, and how they can love each other. By establishing this early, this will get them to realize how they can fully communicate their love to each other effectively. It will help them in future for when they are married. I recommend Gary Chapman’s book, “The Five Love Languages: The Secret to love that lasts.” 

-Jason Rahardjo from White Rock Baptist Church, Surrey, BC

Engaging in Mission Opportunity: Summer Camps

By Jenna Hanger

It’s hard to imagine there will be an end to the freezing cold temperatures we have been facing, but eventually winter will pass and summer will be here before you know it. With that in mind, it’s time to start thinking about summer camp opportunities, as registration has opened for many of the CBWC camps. 

If you have been a camper or a staff member yourself, you will know what an amazing experience camp is for young people and how important this ministry is. As Executive Director of Keats Camps, Stan Carmody, says “Camps have the unique opportunity to build relationships, share the gospel and transform children and youth for the majority of their young lives, many of whom do not come from a Christian home or upbringing. For some people their decision to follow Christ began at a young age, and attending camp was not only the place a seed was planted, but it was also a safe place for them to ask questions, dive deeper and transform their lives. Camping Ministry within the CBWC has been changing lives for over 100 years!”

Carmody goes on to say there are many different opportunities for campers and staff at camp. Not only do they get to experience activities that they might never get the chance to do elsewhere, but camp gives young people the space and opportunity to grow in their independence, as they have choices they get to make for themselves (what to eat at meals, which activities they try, to change their clothes or not, etc.) This can be a vital step to help kids to maturity.

One of the main values the CBWC tries to promote in churches is Engaging In Mission. One way that churches can do this is by providing practical support for their local camps.

“There are many ways you can practically support your local camp. The obvious answer is through financially donating, but not everyone has that ability,” Carmody said. “Many camps are in need of strong and passionate board members; consider joining the board this year or in the near future. Many camps will have opportunities for your church and community to rent their facilities for weekend getaways. Consider taking advantage of retreats with your youth and young adults, men’s groups, women’s groups, or church leadership; having the ability to get away from the busyness of life and relax in a welcoming environment can be exactly what your community needs.”

Other suggestions include inviting your local camp to come speak and share what God is doing through camp and ministry and what their specific needs are, as well as looking into any leadership development programs the camp might have.

“Leadership development is a large part of why camping ministry exists,” said Carmody. “These programs are not only beneficial to those who attend, but they are also there to build up leaders to become future volunteers and staff the for the camp, the church and local communities.”

And of course, one of the biggest ways to support camps is by sending campers to fill beds and young people to help lead! Here is a list of all the CBWC camps. If you are wanting to sign up a camper, move quickly because they can fill up fast!

BCY Regional Newsletter

Remembering Roy Simeon | Upcoming Events

BLTS/Ascent Reunion Coming Soon!

There is power in telling stories, especially the stories of God’s goodness.

Ps 145:4 says “Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power.” We are excited to launch the new CBWC Gap Year Experience, Kurios, on the shoulders of our two previous gap year programs, BLTS and ASCENT.  

All BLTS and ASCENT alumni are invited to a reunion May 22-24, 2020, where we will reconnect, tell stories, and hear about the CBWC’s new initiative. We are planning to honour those who taught, laugh at the good memories, visit the old facility, share pictures, and reflect on God’s goodness. And of course, in proper Baptist fashion, we shall share great meals together. There’s a good chance some puppets and handbells will make an appearance…

The schedule for the weekend includes an informal Friday evening reception with memorabilia and photo table, a Saturday brunch, and various options for Saturday afternoon including touring the old BLTS building, a choir rehearsal, and walks to My Favorite Ice Cream Shoppe!” Saturday evening there will be a banquet, with stories, alumni performances, and a chance to hear more about Kurios. On Sunday morning we encourage you to worship at the CBWC church you attended during your gap year. 

All events will be held at Altadore Baptist Church, and hotel rooms are available nearby. All the details are available at www.cbwc.ca/reunion .

Please help spread the word to all BLTS/ASCENT Alumni!

A message from CBWC Executive Minister Rob Ogilvie

I’m very mindful this week of Pastor Arash and the congregations of the Emmanuel Iranian Churches in North Vancouver and Coquitlam. These communities have been rocked by the deaths of friends, family and loved ones in the Iranian/Canadian community after the shooting down of the Ukrainian jetliner on January 8th over Tehran. Would you please join with all our CBWC family in praying for these churches and all others who are mourning the loss of loved ones from this terrible tragedy.

Emmanuel Iranian Church held a special memorial service for the Ukrainian jetliner tragedy.

Copyright ©  2019 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.

Making Connections is the Monthly Newsletter of the CBWC.