I love the gospel.
I can recall the exact moment that it took root in my life and set me free. I doubt if I will ever forget the sense of freedom and peace that washed over me at that moment. Neither can I forget the privilege of leading people in prayer as they responded to the Good News. The memory of their tears of joy and peace still move me deeply; I know that I am not alone in these two experiences.
There are many of us who know that the Gospel has power to change lives.
Theologian James G. Dunn reminds us that the Gospel is about Jesus, invites a response, and addresses our deepest human needs. I like that. In one sense the Gospel is as simple as pointing to Jesus and is what we try to do through our camping ministries, children, youth and adult activities, mission trips, baptisms, church planting, and our new Kurios initiative. It is why we are committed to living missionally in a culture that no longer even remembers that Jesus came.
Recently, I witnessed 60 new believers take the step of baptism and heard multiple testimonies that echoed this understanding. They talked about Jesus, shared how they responded to him, and explained how it changed their lives, and I came away convinced once more, that I love the Gospel. If you haven’t done so recently, I encourage you to once again remember how the Gospel has changed your life and has the power to change the lives of those who have not yet heard the Good News.
How can you do that? You can reflect on the Engaging Gospel study guide on our CBWC website. You can rejoice in some of the Good News stories in this newsletter or your local church. You can commit to praying for people who don’t yet know Jesus, and you can make sure you attend baptism services. How ever you get there, I pray that you will join me in loving the Gospel.
Good News Stories from our Church Plants
One of our plants is strategically located next to an international college. Makarios Evangelical Church (MEC) is in their second year of being on mission with God to build relational community with students who are often from another land, language and culture—far from the people they love.
Pastor Jessica shared that often the students are just needing someone to hear their hearts, not to preach at them about what they should be doing. In weekly MEC gatherings, the church and students make a simple meal together, eat together, learn to meditate on scripture together, play games and have discussions around many topics including faith, God and religion. The atmosphere is inviting, easy and unstructured, as anything too structured would alarm some of the students.
One night, one of the leaders put a giant stuffed lion on a chair and invited students to come and sit with the lion and share their hearts. Students responded and opened up about their anxieties, worries, and stresses they are feeling and experiencing in their new worlds. Trust is being built and Pastor Jessica often has the opening to follow up with some of the students by meeting them on campus for lunch or coffee. Some students are unbelievers but they keep coming back because of the familiarity and comfort of these family-style gatherings. For many of these students, this is a place for them to be ‘real’ and ‘exposed’ and still be loved and accepted as they explore the Good News.
Another of our plants are experiencing how Good News to those who have found new liberty in Christ is resulting in baptisms that seem unprecedented today. Emmanuel Iranian Church has just baptized their 209th (to my best count) new believer in the story of God, His people and Jesus our King and Saviour, in a kingdom where all are invited to participate. These new believers understand baptism as a deeper, long-term commitment to continue in discipleship, covenant and community, responding to others who have not yet heard this Good News.
One of our pre-launch plants, a GCF Winnipeg satellite, is filled with energetic millennials who see faith, community and life as something to be done together and to be shared with those who have not yet encountered the Good News of Jesus. These young leaders are leading the way to communicate the gospel beyond themselves in engaging ways that invite people to discover and rediscover what faith and community are all about. For these young people, Good News is that people are still seeking truly good news that affects their lives and meets them right where they are.
The good news is that the Good News is still good news, and we get to be a part of these new faith stories as CBWC churches gathered and scattered!
Summer at Keats Camps
Throughout the summer we faced several different operational challenges, but no matter what was thrown our way, staff quickly adapted, persevered and loved on all our campers and guests. We had the opportunity to welcome over 200 new campers every week throughout the summer months and God did amazing things all summer long.
At the end of the summer we had a debrief session for our staff and volunteers and gave them an opportunity to share the ups and downs of the summer, and to leave it all with our Lord before entering their next season (school, new job, etc). In the debrief, one of our staff shared that they knew a lot of our campers come from non faith-based homes, but never really knew of someone who gave their life to Christ. Late in one week however, she found out that one of their campers had prayed quietly, inviting Jesus into their life. For this staff member, this was an amazing experience of the power of the Good News.
We may have our campers for only a short period of their summer, but in some cases, we also can pour into their lives over many years. Being able to share the gospel year by year, and remind them that they are loved by God, is one of the best roles we can play in campers’ lives.
Camp Director, Stan Carmody
“We’re there to serve other people but we also get to serve each other. It’s a meaningful experience.” – Isaac
“One of the things that makes SERVE different and so unique was the environment that felt like home—being on mission in God’s Kingdom with my youth group, but also being able to meet so many others from other groups across the bonds formed, will last forever and the memories will last a lifetime. SERVE made me a lot more grateful and made me realize we can do mission here in Canada. It’s a really, really good opportunity. What you do there is life-impacting.” – Britton
“Before I came to SERVE, I was very closed off. SERVE was my first official “youth group event.” I didn’t want to go. But it was a turning point where the people that I’ve known for years bonded in a new way. I think God used SERVE to set me on the path towards Him. Now, I’ve been to SERVE 3 times. I keep coming back because of the feeling that I’m making an impact, even if in the moment we don’t realize we are. It’s a really intriguing thought that a bunch of individuals can get together and influence someone’s life or make a difference in a community.” – Caleb
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 the BCY office: firstname.lastname@example.org