Heartland Regional Newsletter June 2024

A Wider Family

Mark Doerksen, Heartland Regional Minister 

During the week of May 12, I will have the privilege of being a part of both the Ordination Examining Council, and the New Minister’s Orientation and the CBWC Assembly. It is always good to hear of how God is working in our midst, how God continues to call people to ministry, and how God calls people to ministry within the CBWC. Sometimes we get to hear of God working for a long period of time in a person’s life on the other side of the globe, and somehow, they end up landing in one of our churches. There is lots of good in these stories.

At the New Minister’s Orientation, we further get to hear about people new to the denomination, and get to talk about denominational life. There’s lots of good about this denomination and I, for one, really appreciate the pastoral care offered by our association of churches. Another area that we will talk about is that of Baptist history and distinctives. We will undoubtedly speak about the autonomy of the local church, and also hear about associational life—messages best heard at the very same time, I’d say.

The ideas of autonomy and the association of churches was brought home to me, yet again, a couple of weeks ago. Our son, Micah, and I were on a road trip through Alberta. We ended up visiting some folks who attend Brownfield Baptist Church, a rural church in central/eastern Alberta. That church does a bunch of great stuff, and they have a great group of people. Yet when I thought of that church in its context, it was clear to me that they were similar yet different than some of the rural churches in the Heartland region. I’m sure there are plenty of similarities amongst our rural churches, such as great people and great initiatives, but I’m also quite certain that Brownfield Baptist Church in Alberta is not like Shoal Lake Baptist Church in Manitoba. Each church has unique challenges and opportunities. This leads me to think that perhaps autonomy might be something that churches embrace more readily because they can see that they aren’t exactly like other churches. Why bother connecting if we’re not the same—or so the logic goes.

Yet, I also think that if we are part of an association of churches, we should be interested in the churches around us. We ought to be checking over our shoulders to see how the other churches are doing, praying for them, encouraging them, sharing best practices, and so forth. It’s not an easy time to be the church, and any encouragement that we can receive or offer is, in my opinion, very worthwhile.

This notion of checking over our shoulders to see how other congregations are doing is not new. When we see the New Testament model of Paul visiting churches, and taking up an offering for the church in Jerusalem, we can see the concern that Paul modelled and nurtured between churches (2 Corinthians 8). Certainly, our churches are all unique, and there’s much to celebrate in that. The harder part is for our congregations to look out for the other. I want to encourage yours to give it a try if you haven’t already done so. I am always encouraged, for example, to hear of a congregation praying for another congregation because contact has been made and requests have been offered. Perhaps that’s a great place to start.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 2 Cor 15:58.

-Mark.

Prasanth Jonathan

Lead Pastor at Thompson First Baptist Church

I was born and raised in a traditional Christian family. While I had been active in church activities since a young age, I lacked a personal connection with Christ. The famous philosopher Pascal once said, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God Himself.” This truth resonated with me. In 1992, through the ministry of Campus Crusade, I finally filled this vacuum by accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

From that moment, God instilled in me a burning desire to share His truth with the world. In 1999, God spoke to me through the scripture, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few… Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” I knew I had to respond. Accepting His call, I began my journey as the campus ministry director for Youth for Truth.

My mission has since taken me across various parts of India and the UK, proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. One of my guiding scriptures has been 1 John 2:6, “Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” It is my deepest desire to reflect Christ’s character in my life so that He may be glorified. God gave me a clear vision to make disciples, encouraging and supporting them to grow in Christlikeness and bear much fruit. Over the last nine years as a pastor, I have dedicated myself to supporting disciples transform to conform to Christ-likeness.

After my ministry in the UK, we returned to India, serving in the state of Tamil Nadu. Our mission was to train pastors, elders, and laymen in discipleship, and God enabled us to plant a church there. When the church matured, God directed us to move. We prayed for guidance on our next steps. During this time, my wife, Michelle, applied for a position at the University of Manitoba. She was selected for Thompson, a place we had never heard of until the interview.

Our initial research on Thompson revealed many negative news stories, leaving us uncertain about God’s will for us. Moving from a busy city of 2.9 million to a small town of 14,000 was daunting. Yet, God’s call was persistent. We entered a season of discernment and felt a strong conviction to follow His lead to Thompson. Coincidentally, I came across an advertisement for a senior pastor position at Thompson First Baptist Church, which seemed to align perfectly with God’s plan for us.

Now, over a year later, we have witnessed God’s faithfulness. We have been blessed with a loving and caring community here in Thompson. Michelle, who works as an Assistant Professor at the University of Manitoba Northern Social Work Program, and our two children, Joanne and Jeremy, have all settled in well. We are excited about how God is using us in His service at Thompson.

Reflecting on this journey, I am reminded of the faithfulness of God and the importance of obedience to His call. Our story is one of transformation and trust—a testament to the power of

answering God’s call wherever it may lead. We look forward to continuing our ministry and witnessing the incredible ways God will work through us in this new chapter of our lives.

This regional newsletter is published quarterly within the CBWC’s monthly newsletter, Making Connections. Have a story idea? Email our senior writer, Jenna Hanger: jhanger@cbwc.ca

Heartland Regional Newsletter March 2024

Bearing Witness

By Mark Doersken

Once again, I’ve been thinking of the notion of “bearing witness” in the context of my life and ministry, and how important it is.

The first example is from life in my neighbourhood. Mary and I live in what is known as Old St. Vital in Winnipeg. Quite a few years ago now, we put up a lending library on our yard. We did so because the street that we live on lends itself to this; it is a quiet street with plenty of 

pedestrian traffic. This library has been a busy place over the years, not just for the books, but also for conversations. Especially in warmer weather, we’ll often chat with our neighbours as they’ve stopped to take out a book.

About three weeks ago now, the doorbell rang at our house, and as I opened the door a woman was using the speaker phone on her cell. She said to me quickly, “My Dad wants to talk to you.” After a few sentences, I realized I was speaking with my neighbour from a couple of streets over, and he had sent his daughter to our place because he has difficulty getting out in the winter. It turns out that his wife had passed away, and based on one of our conversations by the library, he had remembered that I was a minister—and would I be able to help plan a service? Thankfully, I was able to do so, and a few days later, I was able to meet with the family and get the service organized. Conversation about God and about Jesus ensued, and it was one of those seemingly rare conversations with a neighbour where I was able to directly bear witness as to why Jesus is so important. I was thankful to God for the opportunity to get to know him and his family better, and to be able to speak plainly about Christ.

A couple of weeks later, I was at the Heartland Pastor and Spouse Retreat at Russell, MB. Our speakers were Sam and Pauline Doerksen, and they spoke to us about resiliency in ministry, for three sessions. They spoke of their own journey to set the table for us all, speaking honestly and reflectively about the hard times of ministry, and how they got through them. After each of their sessions, Cindy Emmons and I had arranged to have 3 different folks respond with a vignette of resilience in their lives, as well. I am convinced that Sam and Pauline’s bearing witness to their ministry, to the difficult aspects of it and the ways forward, was powerful for our group because their vulnerability enabled others to be vulnerable as well. The vignettes we heard were also powerful reminders of Christ’s presence in ministry, and they enabled others to know who to turn to should they experience similar circumstances.

Bearing witness, as I see it, comes in different forms. Our willingness to be vulnerable and humble as we bear witness to Christ can be a huge help to others in their journeys as well.

Peace,

Mark Doerksen
Heartland Regional Minister

Kenny Warkentin, Associate Pastor at Trinity Baptist Church, Winnipeg

“I am great-looking, talented, and creative. I am Tina Turner. I love life and will BE SOMEONE someday and will look back at all this and laugh.” This is a quote written in my journal on March 10, 2005. I had recently ended an eight-year relationship with my gay partner. Two days later, my life would take an even more drastic turn, a direction so different from what I knew that it shocked everyone—including myself.

“Yes God, I love You and will follow You. I trust You, but I’m not so sure about your children!”

This was my response to God after He spoke to me on March 12, 2005. I had gone for a morning run and cried a feeble help to God. His response? “You don’t have to go back to Egypt!” Immediately, I knew that this was my tightly-held gay identity, and a joy filled me to overflowing. He said that if I would put my trust in Him, he would provide all I would need. Humanly speaking, the road ahead didn’t look very appealing. I knew deep down that I would most likely wrestle with same-sex attraction (SSA) all my life and yet, spiritually speaking, I was filled with such love that it was easy to surrender and place my life, gender, attractions, and desires into God’s hands. I counted everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. (Phil 3:8)

To gain perspective, I grew up in the Church and accepted Jesus as my savior at an early age. I knew I was called to serve Him, but my identity and attractions seemed off. Festering gender dysphoria and attractions toward guys, I felt God had made a horrible mistake. How could this be? Had I not accepted Jesus into my heart? Did I not love God? My internal questions propelled me to please God by doing all the right things, and yet—I lived a life of duplicity. A good, Christian man on one hand, and a gay man on the other. Most of the messages in the 90’s that I heard in church about gay people weren’t so great, so I kept my mouth shut. Eventually, I opened my mouth to proclaim, “I’m gay and was born this way!” I embraced this as my identity, and since I could not reconcile this with the word of God, I walked away from the church for 8 years.

So, to hear this call to not go back to Egypt (gay identity), I knew there was a call to re-enter church life and to be open with my Christian brothers and sisters. This felt terrifying. Would I be rejected or embraced? God began to show me that living transparently was life-giving. It didn’t mean my struggles lessened, but it brought about freedom and authentic friendships. Sensing a call into ministry, I joined a para-church organization that focused on obedience to the word, discipleship, and prayer ministry. I had the honour of hearing many stories of relational and sexual brokenness, and witnessing the Holy Spirit reveal the gospel message of ‘good news,’ which is that God loves extravagantly, and He can redeem all things.

Amid coming to peace with being a single man with SSA, God surprised me and brought into my path a woman named Paula—who had her own journey of redemption—and we became good friends. God birthed in us a deep love and attraction toward one another, and we married in 2007. Never would I have imagined this. It didn’t mean I was ‘fixed,’ but it meant that God had a plan and a purpose, and we knew this was His good and pleasing gift for our lives.

Pastoring a church wasn’t high on my bucket list. Truthfully, it was not on my list at all. I was content in para-church ministry, growing in my knowledge of the word and sharing God’s testimony in my life. We were members at Trinity Baptist Church in Winnipeg, led a small group, and I was on the worship and teaching team. After seven years in para-church ministry, I sensed that God was asking me to resign and trust Him with the next leg of the race. Three days before my last day, the elders of Trinity came and asked if I would consider coming on as the Associate Pastor. Paula and I took that into the prayer room over the summer of 2013 and both felt confirmation. I accepted and have been in this role for 10 years. Looking back, I am reminded of the ways God has called me/us into radical trust. I’m reminded that He delights in taking those who feel like they don’t have the skills (goods) or strength, but are willing to say yes to His invitation of service. Then He says, “Watch Me move on behalf of My kingdom!” I’m reminded that God does the impossible things so that He gets all the glory and fame. My prayer has been, and continues to be, that the Church would grow in their obedience to God’s word and be a safe place for all to come and encounter God’s love in and through the body of Christ and be transformed, by submitting everything over to Jesus.

Paula and I, along with our daughter, enjoy art, music, dance, gardening, writing, and opening our home to hospitality. I can often be found in the kitchen baking bread and trying out new recipes. We live in the north end of Winnipeg and see relational, emotional, physical, and spiritual poverty which often brings us to tears. In this place, we are reminded of what God can do. Before Christ, we were just as poor. Our poverty might have looked different, yet we were in the same boat, paddling the same waters. We are so very thankful that God had a rescue plan for us, and He has a rescue plan for everyone around us. His name is Jesus. I/we are very grateful to be part of the CBWC family and have formed wonderful friendships with others who are on mission together.

This regional newsletter is published quarterly within the CBWC’s monthly newsletter, Making Connections. Have a story idea? Email our senior writer, Jenna Hanger: jhanger@cbwc.ca

Heartland Regional Newsletter December 2023

The Power of Small Things

By Mark Doerksen

I come from Mennonite heritage, and my library contains some books on Mennonite history, including the arrival of many Mennonites in Manitoba in the years 1874, ‘75, and ‘76. Apparently, my descendants are from the 1874 batch. In re-reading some of the history of the denomination I grew up in, I came across a paragraph that mentioned some of the trials of those first Mennonites to Canada, and given that I’m writing from Winnipeg, you might not be surprised to find out that mosquitoes are mentioned regularly as a trial. The historical authors thought it important to describe their scenario in this way, “Even in their tents, sleep was almost impossible because of the mosquito plague.” People continue to joke about mosquitoes being the provincial bird of Manitoba to this day.

You may find it odd that I’m writing about mosquitoes at this time of year, but I bring up this subject because of something that I heard at a seminar put on by West Vancouver Baptist. Margaret Cottle is a physician, and she was making a presentation on Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD). She has a lot of concern about the matter, and at minimum, she certainly wants Canadians to pump the brakes on where things are headed. I found the seminar informative, concerning, and helpful—all at the same time. As she neared the end of her presentation, she made a few remarks about “the good news,” remarks that I have been thinking about quite a bit. She said, “When things get darker, Christians get to shine.” She also said that presence is always better than perfection when caring for someone. And finally, she said, “Never underestimate the small things. Imagine a mosquito in a dark room.” Her metaphor was great for me, as I know firsthand the effectiveness of those little creatures, especially when one is trying to get some sleep. Her point, of course, is that the more we connect with people, even in small ways, the less inclined they will be to loneliness and despair.

This publication is known as Making Connections, and as such, I wish to reiterate how important the concept of the “small things” is in our wider family of churches and in our congregations. We may think it’s a small thing to pray for sister churches in our Sunday services, but I’m not sure that it is. We may think it’s a small thing to encourage our pastor to be a part of a local ministerial cluster group, but I’m not sure that it is. And at a local level, we may think it’s a small thing to phone someone we haven’t seen at church for a while, but I’m not sure that it actually is. We may think it’s a small thing to send a card to a senior because we’ve passed them at church and haven’t had the chance to chat in the church lobby for a while, but I’m not sure that it actually is. You may think it’s a small thing to show up at the piano recital in support of a child you teach in your Sunday school class, but I’m not sure that it actually is.

I write this, then, as an encouragement for us to allow the “provincial bird of Manitoba” to inspire us to follow through on the small things. Let’s listen to the small voice inside us that prompts us to the good. Let’s be tenacious about connecting with each other, checking in on others, and in so doing, encouraging them.

Reflecting on Some Baptist Distinctives

By Mark Doerksen

In November, many CBWC churches participate in something called a CBWC Sunday. It’s a chance for churches to hear about some of the resources that are available through the denomination, and for the CBWC to thank churches for their ministries. On the first Sunday of November, I was able to be with the folks at our Prince Albert church, and was privileged to witness a baptism. The pastor asked several questions, and the candidate announced, “I believe Jesus is Lord!” It’s so good to witness these events in our churches and to hear such words spoken, especially given the culture of which we are a part.

I still think baptisms are miracle stories, stories of God working in people’s lives, and of God working in local congregations. Many are happening in our Iranian church in BC, which is incredible, but each baptism is significant. Of course, as Baptists, we can also look back on our trajectory of faith to discover how much of a risk it was to baptize non-infants, and to moor ourselves in that tradition as we continue to express faith as Baptists.

That Sunday I also had the chance to speak about Thomas Helwys, one of the initial leaders of the Baptist movement. In the early 1600’s, about the time of King James I, Thomas Helwys and John Smyth wished to start a new movement, and moved from the UK to Amsterdam to do so. Eventually, that relationship soured, but Helwys’ writings from that time remind us of how radical his beliefs were. In his attempts to return to New Testament practices, he came to believe that baptism must happen upon a person’s confession of faith, a position quite far removed from the Anglican position of his time. He also wrote much about the separation of church and state, and about religious liberty. It was not, according to Helwys, the king’s business to have spiritual authority over a person. In his book entitled The Mystery of Iniquity, he wrote “For a man’s (sic) religion to God is between God and themselves. The king shall not answer for it. Let them be heretics, Turks, Jews, or whatsoever, it appertains not to the earthly power to punish them in the least measure.”

Interestingly, Helwys knew that the witness of his congregation would take on fuller meaning if it moved back from Amsterdam to the UK. And so, he and his companions did so. Not long afterwards, Helwys was imprisoned, and died in that prison at about the age of 40. His foundational work, however, continues as Baptists globally are influenced by his writings and theological ideas.

I find stories about baptism encouraging, and I find historical emphases and stories encouraging too, at least most of the time. We have much to be thankful for as we celebrate being an association of churches and embody Baptist ecclesiology and history, looking back on how God has worked and continues to work amongst us. Certainly, there are heavy situations around the globe at the moment, yet I trust you see God at work in your life, in your church, and in our association of churches.

This regional newsletter is published quarterly within the CBWC’s monthly newsletter, Making Connections. Have a story idea? Email our senior writer, Jenna Hanger: jhanger@cbwc.ca

Heartland Regional Newsletter August 2023

Tragedy in Dauphin, Manitoba

By Mark Doerksen

A recent tragedy in Manitoba was a horrific accident where 16 senior citizens from Dauphin, MB, were killed. With tragic memories from Humboldt, SK, in the not-so-distant past, here again a community will need to come together in grief and support for families, both now and for the future.

As things turned out, our Westman Cluster of pastors was scheduled to meet in Dauphin on Thursday June 22. As a group, we gathered at Pastor Loralyn Lind’s house around the television as the names of the crash victims were released. It wasn’t an easy broadcast to watch.

Later that evening, folks from the community of Dauphin met at the local hall for a memorial service. There were several members of the clergy, from various traditions, who led the community in prayer, singing, and words of consolation. Loralyn, who had been on the planning committee for the service, lit candles as names were read, and closed the service with the benediction.

In the meantime, in downtown Dauphin a large truck had been parked for the better part of the week. That truck housed crisis chaplains and counselors, and had been sent to Dauphin from Calgary. The ministry that sent it was the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. Another CBWC pastor by the name of Tim MacKinnon, out of Weyburn, SK, used his chaplaincy training to minister in Dauphin for the week.

I write of this experience for two reasons; first, to prod us to remember to pray for this community. Those who have lost family members need our prayers. The first responders need our prayers, too. It was quite moving to observe the first responders from Carberry, the site of the accident, greet the first responders from Dauphin.

Second, Loralyn and Tim were encouraged to minister in these ways by their churches. These congregations understood the importance of sending them to care for a community reeling with grief. I am grateful for pastors and congregations such as these.

Have a safe summer!

Mark

The Long Game

By Adam MacDonald, Associate Pastor at Westhill Park Baptist Church

Adam & Karen MacDonald

God isn’t in a hurry, and sometimes he plays a long game.

This is a lesson that I’ve been learning in my first few weeks of pastoral ministry, and has been reinforced by the path I took to arrive here. Now that I’m in the role, I find myself impatient to get things rolling, and have discovered how many things really do take time to germinate, root, and grow, regardless of how fast I want them to happen. This is ironic, since it is almost thirty years between when I first started feeling a call to ministry and my first official church staff role.

I grew up in a family where church was a significant part of life. When I graduated high school, the roast / prediction speeches included a reference to Pastor Adam riding a motorcycle up the aisle of his church. (This has not happened so far). I went boldly off to attend Canadian Bible College, where I met my wife Karen, and managed to squeeze my 4-year program into 7 years. Those years included moving back and forth to Kingston, ON, getting married, and exploring future job possibilities. We thought we were moving back to Regina for one year to finish my Bachelor of Theology. That was 24 years ago this summer and we’re still in Regina. I discovered after high school that I actually did like being a student, and since we were living within blocks of the seminary, I completed my MDiv. We’ve always been very involved at our churches, including a period of time where I was on the preaching team and two different times on the board. To my ongoing surprise, and a bit of confusion, none of these seasons involved being part of a pastoral ministry team. I had always thought that it would, but for various reasons it didn’t, and eventually I concluded that it just wasn’t going to happen. So I focused on things that I loved to do, like teaching Sunday School, sometimes for adults, sometimes for children. I’ve enjoyed teaching each of my kids (Jack 18, Julie 16, Elizabeth 11) as they passed through my various classes.

Until this spring, when I noticed a change in my thinking. God isn’t in a hurry and he plays a long game. Through various conversations with our lead pastor and others close to me, I felt that it was time to seriously consider the position of Associate Pastor at Westhill Park Baptist Church. I started in that role on April 1, 2023. It’s been such a good fit that a close friend, who is an atheist, has commented on how well it seems to suit me and how much I’m enjoying it! I truly am enjoying it, and am looking forward to participating in new ways with what God is doing here.

Update from Ukrainian Evangelical Baptist Church

Written by Mark Doerksen

In the mid-summer of 2022, Ukrainians displaced by the war with Russia began to come to Winnipeg. At first many people came and would be ministered to by the folks that make up Ukrainian Evangelical Baptist Church (UEBC). UEBC is located in the William White neighborhood in Winnipeg, and this year will be celebrating 120 years of ministry.

The congregation has grown since then, in different ways. First, the church has gained some additional members, including church leaders. Second, the congregation has grown in what it means to serve folks who have been displaced and are now seeking to settle in Canada. It hasn’t always been easy, and it’s difficult to predict how many people need to be helped, and some folks who have started in Winnipeg have already moved to places like Calgary and Abbotsford. Over the past year, the congregation has learned that helping these displaced folks over the long haul requires motivation, energy, resources, and perseverance.

In terms of motivation, Pastor Alex Andrusyshyn relies on a couple of things. He has seen how the government of Canada and the government of Manitoba has been very helpful to Ukrainians, and feels as though the church should also be seen as helpful in supporting these newcomers. Second, and more from a theological perspective, the congregation relies on the story of the Good Samaritan to keep them motivated.

In terms of energy, Pastor Alex notes that the congregation is getting weary. The initial challenge and excitement has ebbed a bit, and now people are feeling the effects of supporting folks for the long term. They have also learned, by way of experience, to take a “step by step” approach to helping. Food hampers and a visit might be the first step in connecting with folks, and eventually an invitation to church, and then meeting needs of clothing and furniture after that.

In terms of resources, the congregation appreciates the support given by the CBWC family, and notes that many newcomers still need items such as food hampers, beds, clothing, and the like. As the congregation networks locally for those in need, some families are hoping to settle in Winnipeg for the long haul. UEBC is committed at the moment to 2 single moms, their children, as well as a husband and wife and their 3 children, in addition to the folks that come intermittently for help.

In terms of perseverance, Pastor Alex and the congregation are certainly feeling weariness, but are committed to helping as long at it takes. Over the past year different strategies of support have been developed, and sometimes there is plenty of need, while at other times, the need is not so acute. The need, it seems, comes in waves as Pastor Alex describes it.

Please continue to remember this congregation in your prayers, and please remember to pray for those displaced by the war. If you would like to connect more directly with a family that UEBC is helping with, please contact Pastor Alex at the church.

This regional newsletter is published quarterly within the CBWC’s monthly newsletter, Making Connections. Have a story idea? Email our senior writer, Jenna Hanger: jhanger@cbwc.ca

Heartland Regional Newsletter May 2023

Opportunity to Help Those Affected by Food Security

In 1983, the Canadian Baptist family became a founding member of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB). This year, they are celebrating their 40th year. The churches of the CBWC have supported the CFGB in various ways over the years, and many farmers from our churches have been very generous with their resources in supporting the work of CFGB. In 2014, I was able to participate in a Food Study tour with CFGB, with stops in Sierra Leone and Burkina Faso. It is difficult to see a community devastated by famine. But it’s also incredible to see how CFGB comes alongside to support such communities, not just in urgent cases, but also through training in sustainable agricultural practices.

Food insecurity today continues to be a significant issue. The cost of groceries is a huge concern. The amount of people having to rely on food banks continues to increase. While farms increase in productivity, there are still serious issues in getting food to places that are affected by famine, war, and so forth.

In the Heartland, some of our churches are involved in food banks. A church may host a food bank on a regular basis in their community, or a church may volunteer at a food bank—sorting and organizing donated items. I think that if we were to do an official audit of how our churches across the CBWC are involved in food security issues, we would be encouraged by our involvement. Many of our churches are involved in such ministries without much fanfare or our hearing of them. If you’re a part of a community involved in such a ministry, keep at it!

This summer, Canadian Baptist Ministries through their Active in Mission program, is inviting all the Canadian Baptist denominations across Canada to band together to raise $100,000 for those affected by food insecurity. The monies raised will be used both overseas and here in Canada. In our CBWC context, the monies raised will be distributed to churches involved in foodbank-related ministries. More information will be coming, but if you’re interested in this venture, you can form a team and raise money by walking together, biking together, jogging together, kayaking together, or by some other activity you come up with.

I am so encouraged by the churches in the Heartland, and in the CBWC, that minister faithfully to those affected by food insecurity. I am also encouraged by this opportunity to join other Canadian Baptist churches across Canada in raising money for those who need assistance from a food bank from time to time. Please stay tuned for further information.

Mark Doerksen

“Feed My Sheep”

A testimony by Cheryl Johnson, First Baptist Church Regina

On Sept. 1, 2022, I started as the Children and Family Pastor at First Baptist Church Regina.  I marvel as I see the hand of God bringing me full circle from the early 90s, when I felt a call to ministry, to being in ministry now. Sometimes it was hard to see how this all would come to fruition. The prompts often felt like they were leading me in the opposite direction.

I grew up in a home where faith was woven into our lives and I eagerly wrapped that cloak of faith around myself. After graduating high school in North Battleford, I attended Canadian Bible College in Regina, SK. I went with the intention of studying for one year but ended up staying long enough to earn a Bachelor of Theology degree (along with my husband, Mark, who I met there). God had also given me a dream of becoming a teacher and so I went on to take my Bachelor of Education at the University of Regina. I taught elementary school for a few years and then, after having my first child, I felt called to stay home and raise our two boys (Adam is now 19 and Dustin is 17). During this time, I became involved with a wonderful community of Christian women. Our children were cared for while we studied God’s word and learned about being a woman of God. Through this group, I was encouraged to enter a two-year course to become a Spiritual Director. This course taught me about a personal God who loved me and was involved in every part of my life.

As my kids both entered school, I began to consider re-entering the work force. While I looked into teaching again, that door did not re-open but God sent me in a new direction where I began to work casually in the English testing area of Saskatchewan Polytechnic. That led to a 9 year career with SaskPolytech, spending the last 6 as a Supervisor for the South Test Centres. During the pandemic, I began to feel the Spirit’s leading to move on to something else. I looked at higher paying jobs in more senior positions. I considered working from home on the farm that we had moved to in 2017. Working remotely would allow me to be closer to the animals I had grown to love, especially my sheep. In the spring of 2022, I began to have issues with my eyes which were exasperated by spending nearly 8 hours a day on Zoom. I realized that working remotely was not an option for me and I once again called on God for direction. While on vacation, the Spirit whispered to me that there was a position at my church for a Children and Family Pastor. I hadn’t paid attention to it previously but I followed the Spirit’s nudge and looked up the position online. It was a full-time position doing what I loved, teaching children and ministering to families and other members of the congregation. After dialogue with mentors and those closest to me, I applied and am now in a job that feels like home. I really love teaching about God and ministering to our congregation and community.

I never would have dreamed that these various jobs and activities would lead me back to the calling I first felt at Bible College, but it did. Jesus said, “Feed my sheep”. I live in awe and thankfulness to the Lord that I now do that, both literally and figuratively, on my farm and in my ministry at First Baptist Church.

Cheryl Johnston

This regional newsletter is published quarterly within the CBWC’s monthly newsletter, Making Connections. Have a story idea? Email our senior writer, Jenna Hanger: jhanger@cbwc.ca

Heartland Regional Newsletter February 2023

Networking Conversations

By Mark Doerksen

There certainly are challenges in church life these days, as things have not necessarily returned to how they were before the pandemic. Many churches have seen a decline in attendance, and this is true cross-denominationally. This is only one challenge, and there certainly are others.

In the Heartland Region, we have been working with various challenges that are being met by denominational connections. When a church makes known a challenge they are facing, often I can think of a church in a similar situation, and then network the churches for further conversations. It’s these networking conversations that are vitally important in my work, and I’d like to offer a couple of examples of what I mean.

Cornerstone Baptist Church here in Winnipeg had its last service at the end of October. They have some stellar volunteers that are working to see that the building is cleaned up, organized, and ready for potential sale. We had hoped that a CBWC church could be the next owners of that building, but that has not proven to be the case. However, one of our local pastors knew of a 20-year “church plant” that is looking for a building, and so that church plant was put in contact with the CBWC. Conversations around the sale of the building continue, and the CBWC Foundation has been vital in things moving forward. I’m grateful for such developments.

At our church in Ormiston, SK, Bill and Carol Luther are stepping aside as the primary church leaders. They have served well and faithfully for many years and will continue to be involved in the church. The congregation, at the moment, will not be looking for another pastor, as they will experiment with online resources available for them on Sunday mornings. They did, however, have questions about improved technology to facilitate Sunday morning gatherings, and so I was able to network them with another CBWC pastor who is tech saavy and willing to help, and was able to talk to the church about different Sunday morning options that are already being used by some rural CBWC churches within the denomination. Again, networking conversations are vitally important, and though the details of this network are not finalized, I’m pleased that the resources we have within the denomination are helping churches presently.

We have another church in the Heartland that is facing the future without a pastor, at least for a while. The congregation would like to continue, and as such, I am chatting with the leadership and discussing future options with them. One such option may well be within the denomination; Brownfield Baptist Church is working towards equipping rural churches through a ministry called Rural Light Ministries. It’s encouraging to me that I can point churches to options such as this, and that our CBWC churches are looking out for each other. Though these networking conversations in this case are only at the beginning stages, I am again reminded that the pandemic has—in some ways—taught us that audio/visual resourcing is a viable option for some circumstances.

Does your congregation have the desire to help other churches? Is your congregation facing a challenge that needs further perspective? I would hope that you’re encouraged to have similar networking conversations as you continue in your localized ministry.

Answering God’s Persistant Call

Kristen Kroeker – Pastor of Willowlake Church

I felt a call to ministry as a young girl and spent my years first in Northern Ireland with YFC, then in Winnipeg as an inner-city missionary, and finally as a children’s pastor in a large local church before stepping down. After being away from ministry for two years, I felt a call again. I knew that going back to my previous roles was not in my future, but I had no clue what was. In 2020, pandemic funding became available for students, so I started a M.Div. at the local theological seminary. I had no idea where it would lead, but the timing was right, the funding was there, and I was grateful to God for the opportunity.

As a student, I was invited at times to provide local pulpit supply. My childhood had been spent in a Baptist church where only men were permitted to lead, so I was surprised to be invited to preach at Willowlake Baptist. I appreciated God’s sense of humour in bringing my story full circle and was impressed by the CBWC’s long-standing support of women in ministry. This was during lockdowns, so my impression of Willowlake was limited to the 4 or 5 people who showed up to make an online church experience happen for the folks at home. I was drawn in by the sense of camaraderie, the joy (in a time of anxiety), and the deep care and compassion this group had for those in their community. That one invitation turned into repeated ones, and my appreciation for the church grew.

When a congregant tapped me on the shoulder to apply for their open pastoral role, I didn’t even consider it. The idea of female lead pastors was still so foreign to me that I couldn’t see myself in that role. We were attending a church of over 1000 people at the time, and bringing my pre-teen daughters into a small church seemed impossible.

But my hang-ups were challenged when I was assigned a new practicum as part of my seminary studies under the leadership of a female pastor in a smaller congregation. There’s a saying that “you cannot be what you cannot see,” and serving in that church opened our eyes to what had previously seemed impossible. Our children thrived in that small church. My husband and I were impressed by the humility and leadership the pastor showed, and the strong marriage she and her husband modelled. Our previous hesitations were being challenged in front of our eyes, and instead of, “That would never work,” we began to think, “What if…?” When the invitation came again to apply at Willowlake, I took it seriously. We prayed together about it. We visited the church as a family. My kids were determined not to return to a big church where they were lost in the crowd, and loved how welcomed they felt. My husband could envision his own role in the church, which surprised us. That “What if…” grew to “This is it.” God was persistent in His call, and we entered a season of discernment and answering the call with Willowlake Church.

It’s been only a few months officially as pastor of Willowlake, and God has been so good. It has been rewarding to get to know the people who make up Willowlake Church, and a privilege to be part of the

reopening process. It’s exciting to see people returning after long absences and programs starting up after a few years of shutdowns, and we look forward to what God has in store for us.

If you had told me five years ago, that this is where I would be today, I would never have believed you. But God has convinced me this is exactly where we are called to be. I think of those who had vision when I did not, who stepped into their callings and helped me to see what that faithfulness looked like, and I can’t help but think of the “great cloud of witnesses” in Hebrews 12 who help us put our faith in action and make a way for us to say yes to God. I hope to be such a person for future generations.

Celebrating Two Birthdays

By Jim Galbraith, Lead Pastor at First Baptist Church Prince Albert

Just over ten years ago, I was given a second birthday. Big deal, all of us Christians are born again, yes? Well, this one is not what you think.

On December 19, 2012, I received a donor stem cell transplant to treat Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Since the stem cells come from an unrelated donor, when they transform into the bone marrow that I needed, they produce blood with the donor’s DNA. This makes me a “chimera”—a single being with two different sets of DNA.

Because of this unique situation, the staff at the cancer clinic encourage us to mark our transplant day as our second birthday. My wife, Lori, has taken this up with gusto; I get balloons, a nice meal, and instead of a present for me, we’ve chosen to make my second birthday a day where I give a present to someone in need. In 2022, I turned “10”, and was able to help a young man in our city.

Without this treatment, I would have been dead and buried long before my 46th birthday. I am 55 today, with cancer long behind me. God has given me ten years post-transplant, during which two of my three sons have married, with the first about to have their first baby in February. Yes, I will be a grandpa a few days after you read this.

So, as a Christian, I guess I now have three birthdays; the OG (original), my conversion to Christ, and my donation day! I continually thank God for what He’s done in my life.

Retirement Thoughts from William H. Luther

If you have reason to drive south of Moose Jaw, you will soon notice that some towns are experiencing tough times. Communities such as Crane Valley and Ormiston have challenges ahead, as their economies have shifted by the closing of a nearby salt mine. There are mainly ranchers that remain, and the rolling hills of the area lend itself to this way of life. It’s a beautiful part of Saskatchewan, but you need to be tough to live there, and you need to get used to driving some distance to reach other communities. At Ormiston, however, you will find Ormiston Baptist Church, a church that continues in no small part to the leadership of Bill and Carol Luther. These fine folks have recently stepped aside from the formal leadership of the church, after many years of faithful service. We’ve asked them to write a brief note about their experiences, and we’re grateful for their leadership and wish them God’s continued blessings for the future.

Retirement takes my mind back some 70-plus years, to a little boy following his father outside to feed the cows. Stepping in my father’s footprints in the snow, I said, “I’m following in your footsteps, Dad!” An early love for cattle has been sustained throughout my life.

In the 1950s, while other denominations were reluctant to assist in a church-plant in Ormiston, SK, the CBWC (formerly known as The Baptist Union of Western Canada) got involved. The sister church in Cardross, SK was my first contact with the Gospel, and I surrendered to Christ’s call at age 10.

Following graduation from high school, God called me to study at Millar College of the Bible, where I realized an ability and love of preaching. After graduation and a further two years of study at Winnipeg Bible College and Seminary, I returned to the farm. The most important thing that happened during these years was marrying the love of my life, Carol.

Centralization was affecting the size of Ormiston Baptist Church and in the absence of a pastor, Area Minister Mel Ralston encouraged me to volunteer. Six years of ‘tent-making’ ministry followed. Sunday school, prayer meetings, Bible study, kids’ club, and youth group called for long days. The church experienced some growth, and we called a full-time pastor! Some 27 years passed, with various couples to pastor our church while I filled in as pulpit supply. In 2008, our church was at a crossroads. Attendance and resources were low, and God called Carol and I to accept the position of part-time pastor of Ormiston Baptist Church again. Fourteen years followed with preaching, teaching, leading youth group, and other pastoral duties.

I thank God for the wife He gave me. She is so gifted in music and people-skills, and she complimented my areas of weakness so well.

‘Stepping aside’ from pastoral ministry, I thank the Lord for His blessings, for the ministry of CBWC over the years, for a supportive, praying church family, for four daughters and their husbands, 18 grandchildren, and 1 ½ great granddaughters. I look forward to spending more time together with all of them!

In the years to follow, God-willing, I hope to continue assisting the next generation with the ranch work and our church with its ongoing ministry!

This regional newsletter is published quarterly within the CBWC’s monthly newsletter, Making Connections. Have a story idea? Email our senior writer, Jenna Hanger: jhanger@cbwc.ca

Heartland Regional Newsletter November 2022

Reflection of Appreciation

 

As I write, we’ve just marked Thanksgiving, and I know that October is supposed to be Pastoral Appreciation month, and I appreciate pastors—but I wanted to reflect on some other folks that come to mind when I hear the word “appreciation.” This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but a sample of some folks that I’m grateful for.

For example, I have in mind leaders in rural churches that have gone on a long time without a pastor. They have been looking, but it is difficult to find one because of the geography and sustainability of such an arrangement. Yet in that church, there are leaders that take it upon themselves to see that the work of the church continues, including making arrangements for Sunday mornings.

Some of these folks could be a church elder who does their normal job, plus their elder duties, and then finds time to prepare and preach because there is no one else to do so. These folks seldom get the credit they deserve—and they don’t seek it—but I appreciate their efforts very much.

I think, too, of a Regional Minister that I am familiar with, who drives around Alberta quite a bit. In doing so, he has found some prime fishing spots that he wants to visit upon retirement. Fish fear him, apparently. He does his work faithfully; he does not get flustered by much, and he genuinely cares about pastors and churches. He works with churches when they are seeking pastors, networking and praying as he does his work. He’s been steadfast and dependable. And what I appreciate most is his willingness to listen to me when I’ve got “a scenario” to run by him. I’m going to miss him and his perspective.

I think of the president of the CBWC, who has plenty of responsibilities and gets to hear opinions from both sides of most issues. She has been attentive to the Holy Spirit and prayer as she’s done her work. And, of course, she could not do such work if her family and congregation were not supportive.

I think of our Executive Minister, who also has plenty to do. I describe his work as some sort of domino chain, going from one serious matter where he’s trying to discern what is best in the moment for people and for our group of churches, and then off to the next one. I pray for him often, as I don’t think his work is possible without prayer—giving thanks for his leadership and asking for encouragement for him.

I think, too, of Cindy Emmons, who works with me in my region, and who has just marked 10 years in her role with the denomination. She puts up with me—with my idiosyncrasies—helps keep me organized, and puts up with my warped sense of humour. She goes above and beyond, learning new skills as different tasks are asked of her. She is genuinely interested in learning and growing, and has even read a commentary on Revelation as part of our shared work. I appreciate her work, her perspective, and her dedication.

With appreciation,

Mark.

Charline McAlpine Bio

Part-time Lead Pastor at Broadway First Baptist Church, Winnipeg

I was born in Trinidad and Tobago in January of 1967. In July of the same year, my parents and I moved to Winnipeg where I lived until August last year. My husband, daughter, and granddaughter are now living near Niverville, MB on a lovely one-acre lot with mostly farmer’s fields for neighbours. I never expected to love living outside of the city so much! I am currently the part-time lead pastor at Broadway-First Baptist Church in Winnipeg and celebrated my commissioning service with the congregation on September 18th. I am also very close to completing my studies at Providence Theological Seminary to receive my M.Div. degree.

I was raised in a Christian home by two very loving parents who also loved the Lord and served faithfully at the Nazarene Church in Winnipeg. I was saved and gave my heart to the Lord at the teen summer camp from that church, and began serving as the youth leader as soon as I was able.

My story, however, is not all smooth sailing. There was rebellion toward my parents and God. There was even a time when I turned away from God and chose to follow my own sinful path which led me into pain, suffering and through a long darkness of my soul.

Still, the prayers of my parents and church family were heard and answered by the Almighty God who knows and orders our steps. I was never too far away from God, and attended a few different churches off-and-on while trying to find my way through life.

Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is older, he will not depart from it.
~Proverbs 22:6 NKJV

There are many moments in my day when I truly wonder how I got here. As a teenager and young adult, I would never have imagined that I would be here; pastoring a church with a master’s degree on the horizon. Yet God is good and works all things together for His good purpose. I thank God each day for the rich blessings in my life today, and look forward with anticipation to the future full of hope as I journey with and closer to my Heavenly Father.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
(2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

This regional newsletter is published quarterly within the CBWC’s monthly newsletter, Making Connections. Have a story idea? Email our senior writer, Jenna Hanger: jhanger@cbwc.ca

Heartland Regional Newsletter July 2022

Theology for the Ordinary Podcast

 

One of the denominational initiatives that I have had the privilege of being involved with over the last while is that of Theology for the Ordinary. Those who have signed up to receive Theology for the Ordinary updates can participate in a book club, receive book reviews, and get access to a podcast that has been produced for this initiative. Cindy Emmons and I co-hosted Dr. Ed Neufeld, the pastor of our Canadian Baptist congregation in Kleefeld, Manitoba, as we dove into the book of Revelation. 

Ed has taught the New Testament at Providence Theological Seminary for many years, and graciously agreed to join Cindy and I in putting this together. Cindy did a lot of work as she learned the technical aspects of putting together a podcast, and then editing it and making it available via the platform known as Podbean.

There have been several benefits to doing this project together. First, Cindy and I have had the privilege of reading G.K. Beale’s commentary on Revelation in order to prepare for the sessions. He has a nice way of making a tricky book quite accessible, and this has proven to be a valuable resource in understanding the last book of the New Testament. Second, recording the sessions became a highlight of our schedules. It was a good way for the three of us to build relationship. Third, Cindy and I learned a lot from our sessions with Ed. It was good to listen to and learn from him as he gave lots of insights into our understanding of the text. He was very gracious with us. Fourth, we were reminded that the message of Revelation is for our day. It is an encouragement to stand, to remain faithful, and though there are difficult images in the text, it was good to be reminded that Christ remains on the ultimate throne and has all things in control. We look forward to the day when we, along with many other believers, will bring glory to God continually. And finally, I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of listeners we have had. I have had people tell me that they enjoy listening, and that some small groups are using this resource for their studies together.

I am very grateful both to Ed and to Cindy as they have worked to make this project a reality. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen. (Rev 22:21)

Mark Doerksen

 

Listen to the Podcast →

Subscribe to the Newsletter →

Visit our page →

Roslyn and Josephine

The journey of Roslyn & Josephine to Filipino Evangelical Church in Winnipeg is quite interesting.

In 1976, Roslyn was called to serve the Lord Jesus in Young Life, a youth ministry which insists on incarnational evangelism through unconditional friendship. It was a humbling experience for Roslyn, as he witnessed the Lord lovingly touch the lives of youth and street boys. Some of them are now Pastors. Roslyn met his wife, Josephine, in Young Life.

In 1983, Roslyn was moved by the Lord to Bacolod Evangelical Church (BEC) to be one of their pastors. He and Josephine served BEC for 17 years until both were again moved to Filipino Evangelical Church of

Abu Dhabi in United Arab Emirates (UAE). UAE is a Muslim state, so Roslyn and Josephine are not at liberty to share their ministry experiences in Abu Dhabi.

Then Roslyn and Josephine served South Bay Christian Alliance Church in Carson, California, for almost five years.

In 2005, both were called to serve Filipino Evangelical Church (FEC) of Winnipeg. Soon Roslyn and Josephine shall have ministered at FEC for 17 years. PTL!

By Princess P. Sela

This regional newsletter is published quarterly within the CBWC’s monthly newsletter, Making Connections. Have a story idea? Email our senior writer, Jenna Hanger: jhanger@cbwc.ca

Heartland Regional Newsletter April 2022

The Human Condition

By Mark Doerksen

We are in the midst of Lent as I write, and one of the themes that I have always returned to during Lent is that of the human condition. When I was pastoring a local church, one fellow in that congregation, who loved movies, would arrange Friday night movies that were helpful in exploring the human condition. We were in the midst of our Lenten Movie Nights in 2020 when COVID hit, and we haven’t returned to this practice, but I am hopeful that we will.

We would watch, for example, Silence, directed by Martin Scorsese, a historical drama depicting the attempts to spread the Christianity in Japan, and then discuss our insights and reactions to the movie. In that movie, the question of renouncing one’s faith given the choice of continued life or immediate execution figures prominently.

Yet the human condition is not only to be explored in movies. I have been reading John Steinbeck’s East of Eden, and the book has in mind the story of Cain and Abel, as it explores family life in the Salinas Valley of California. The main protagonist, Cathy Ames, is described by Steinbeck as having a “malformed soul,” and the novel goes on to explain what that looks like through various diabolical episodes in her life. I’m tempted to think, as I read, that I’m glad I’m not as malformed as Cathy.

The morning of writing this, I was reading Daniel 6, and Tremper Longman’s commentary on that passage. This is the chapter where Daniel is thrown into the lion’s den and survives. I was struck by the human condition of his accusers; they were expert manipulators, motivated by jealousy, who capitalized on Daniel’s faithfulness—a faithfulness that turned again to ingrained habits of prayer in the midst of increased persecution.

If only we could compartmentalize descriptions of poor behavior to movies and books and Bible stories. Unfortunately, we also witness poor behavior amongst nations, in our churches, in our families, in our own lives. This week, news came out about another influential pastor who committed clergy abuse with a congregant. It’s discouraging, to be sure, yet also a reminder of our own potential for behavior that is detrimental to our churches, others, and ourselves.

And yet, hidden in Lent, in this time of reflecting on our human condition, there remains the promise of Easter. Easter—the story of Christ’s death and resurrection, the story that Daniel’s experience foreshadowed—reminds us of the surest of remedies for our human condition. If you’re like me, sometimes you need reminding.

Meet Rev. Zabiak Cung Biaka

I strongly believe that God has had His high calling for everyone who accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord. I am from a very remote area in Burma; even today there are no cars and electricity in the village. Everyone is still using wood and charcoal for cooking, and a candle, chimney, and pinewood at night to light up their home.

When I was 16, God called me to serve and follow Him. The road of His calling was fearful, painful, and at the same time, beautiful and meaningful, because I was just a teenager. I was enjoying my teenage life as much as I could, without knowing God before He called me. 

When I got to know more about the love of God and learnt that the Lord needs me and wants my youth for His kingdom, God wanted me to leave and give up the most worldly, pleasurable things that I used to enjoy and turn my life the other way around—to pick up my cross and follow Him.

I remember, just before I attended Bible college, that I visited our neighbouring village. We attended a Wednesday night church service. That night, the speaker was absent and one of the church elders came to me and asked me if I could preach. I was so nervous, “What do you want me to do?” I was not prepared for a message, because I was just there to join the service. But the elder was serious. He said because I was from another village, they would like to hear “how is God working in your life.” “Oh no, oh my God, what should I say and what Bible verses should I read? Thank you, God, I could share my testimony and the goodness of God in my life.”

That was the moment that I learned how important a minute is for Christ. I must be ready to preach the Gospel anytime, anywhere, within season and out of season. The Lord had trained me before I was in Bible college. As a teenager, the Lord gave me His good news to share as a Sunday school teacher, church elder, missions director and evangelist. The Lord trained me and prepared me as one of His servants to climb up, step by step, through these ministries. After I graduated from seminary, I received a call and was ordained as a pastor to look after churches and continue His calling of evangelism. I am working as a pastor at three different congregations.

I immigrated to Canada, Regina, in December 2006. It seemed like there was no way and no doors were open for me to continue my ministries for the Gospel. There were only three families and they spoke Karen. I had never met these three and had never heard this language in my life.

My wife asked me to move to another city where there were more people of my kind, but my prayers and the call of God were not in other cities or places. Just like Abraham when God calls him, “wherever you are, I will be with you,” I strongly believe that God had already planned something for me in Regina.

I live in North Central, Regina, which has one of the highest crime rates in Canada. I questioned God, “Why did you put me in this place where my family does not have a peaceful time and sleep soundly?” The answer of God is, “l chose you and put you here for a purpose. I will move you when it is needed. I said, “Thank you Lord for choosing me, let Your will be done.” My house door and car doors have been broken a few times. I’ve met many dangerous strangers, but I say to God, “This is Your will, let all these people accept You as their Lord and Saviour.” My prayer is to change North Central into a better, peaceful place in Regina, not only the place but also the people—to turn them Christ. I would like to close my story with these two Bible verses; Luke 18: 27- “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Philippians 4: 13- “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Rev. Zabiak Cung Biaka
Pastor at Chin Christian Fellowship of Saskatchewan

Upcoming Events

Heartland Baptist Women | Spring Retreat

“Trusting in God’s Promises”

April 29-May 1, 2022.  Brochure.

This regional newsletter is published quarterly within the CBWC’s monthly newsletter, Making Connections. Have a story idea? Email our senior writer, Jenna Hanger: jhanger@cbwc.ca

Heartland Regional Newsletter January 2022

Trusting God as We Look Ahead

By Mark Doerksen

We’ve just come through the Christmas season, a season that has a lot of spiritual significance, but also a lot of cultural significance. A book that I have returned to on occasion when considering Christmas is Kenneth Bailey’s Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, as he examines the cultural realities of that time in history in that geography, and in so doing, exposes some current Christmas practices as less than accurate or ideal.

Bailey’s approach reminds me a little of someone I’ve discovered lately, a fellow by the name of Michael Heiser. He’s not for everyone, but I find his detailed study of the Scriptures to be quite interesting and thorough. He’s also been a contributor to the Bible Project, and the small group I am a part of are enjoying those resources. Heiser is quite interested in parts of the Bible that perhaps are not as well travelled as others; he covers themes like the heavenly council, Genesis 6, and Revelation. He works to remind Christians of the supernatural worldview of the Bible.

I am writing about Heiser because, as we begin a new year, I think about the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament, and specifically the book of Job—complete with its reference to the heavenly court in Job 1. It’s a fascinating passage to me, as the Accuser is allowed to come and interrupt the meeting of the heavenly court and suggest that the moral equation of the day was skewed; Job only followed God because he was prosperous. That equation needed testing, according to the Accuser, and twice an agreement is reached between the Accuser and the Lord to press the issue concerning Job. The Accuser says things like, “Take away the hedge, and Job’s blessing will turn to cursing. Job is put through unimaginable pain and loss as the Accuser animates the testing against him.

The Accuser turned out to be wrong. The end of chapter 1 tells us that Job did not turn to blame God for his misfortune. In chapter 2 we see another response from Job as he says, “Should we only accept good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” Turns out that Job trusted in God no matter the circumstances in life, no matter how difficult the testing he had to endure.

As we look ahead to 2022, we look forward with anticipation to the new year. There are delightful opportunities and experiences waiting for us, as individuals and families, within our workplaces and as churches. Yet there might also be experiences that will be serious enough to shake us to the core; job loss, a serious diagnosis, a shattered relationship. Is your faith ready for those times of adversity? Is mine? Can we, like Job, manage to trust God even when it feels like the adversity is too much, and that all that we have known unravels before us?

I hope so. I hope that our faith is rooted deeply enough that we can withstand the good and the bad, times of difficulty, times of excitement. And I hope that our churches, families, and friends, can be present with us in all that life brings as well. Most of all, may you sense God’s presence in all of life in this upcoming year.

Gratefully & hopefully,

Mark Doerksen

Scott Elger, Pastor of First Baptist Church in Moose Jaw, SK

I am finding this “bio” very difficult to write. My wife, Elsie, and I have been fellowshipping with First Baptist Church for five years. I served 8 years at Riverside Mission, an emergency men’s shelter and soup kitchen here in Moose Jaw, SK. I enjoyed my time with this ministry and could see how the Lord was working in my life as He taught me to serve others. After two years at FBC, I was asked to consider becoming the pastor.

Due to a change in direction and management at the Mission, my position was coming to an end. First Baptist’s invitation was the realization of a life-long desire and I accepted. I started on January 1, 2019. Needless to say, much of my service to First Baptist Church has been under COVID conditions. I had never been a pastor before and ponder at times what I might have to offer as a pastor. The following are some examples of how the Lord has been working in my life to equip me for His service.

In the fall of 1970, shortly before my 14th birthday, my brothers and I were placed in a children’s home run by a local Christian Church. Though some have passed away, I maintain a relationship with many of the staff to this day. For 51 years, I have not known what it is like not to be loved, not to be prayed for, not to be encouraged and not to be included. I have had a very clear example of Christian discipleship lived out before me.

In the fall of 2007, Elsie and I moved to Caronport, SK so that I might attend the seminary. Through my studies and interactions with other students I learned to hear and respect the positions of those who understood differently than I did. I also learned the value of intense study of the Word so that I might come to the clearest understanding of God’s Word that I can.

My experience at Riverside Mission taught me to serve without judgement, to love the people as they come to us and to give of myself without knowing what the return might be. My experience also taught me to be patient with people and to wait upon the Lord in prayer. Many a time we rejoiced at seeing how the Lord answered our prayers.

My service as pastor is simply living out what the Lord has taught me throughout my life. I strive to study well, that I may faithfully teach the Word of God. I aim to partake in an atmosphere of love and acceptance where all of us feel safe and included, where we can experience the Father’s love for us. I want people to experience what I experienced from my time in the children’s home, to know that they are always loved, prayed for, included and encouraged. This is not brought about just by me as pastor, but by each of us in our fellowship. My job is to continue modelling and encouraging it.

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