Making Connections September 2020

Summer Wrap-Up Report!

This summer has looked very different than what it would have normally, but God has been so faithful. He has been moving and challenging and using all things for good. So many churches and camps were still able to innovate and run programs, or use this time to rest and focus on what God has to teach them. Below is just a snapshot of some of the great things that happened this summer in our CBWC family:

SERVE 2020

During the day on August 16, well over one hundred youth and youth leaders served in local communities across Western Canada. Groups painted, washed cars, walked/ran 10K, landscaped and more, demonstrating the transformational love of Jesus in their hometown. In the evening, everyone joined together online for a Live Stream Celebration proving that unity and fellowship in Christ can happen no matter how far apart we are. Thank you to everyone who participated in SERVE at Home this year. You can go to www.cbwc.ca/serve to view the Live Stream recording.

Mill Creek Camp

We ran online camps throughout July. They went really well, but they did have low registration numbers. Although camp online didn’t feel very “campy,” it was easier to form relationships, teach, worship, and have fun together than we expected. We sent packages to our campers so that we could do activities with them in the mornings, and that made it so easy to engage in an activity together online. Overall, we were very happy with how online camp went, and although we hope to be able to do in person camp next year, if we had to do online camp again, we would definitely consider it.

We also used our site as a campground for families throughout the summer. That went really well—we are booked up solid till mid-September. It does cost camp a lot just to maintain the facilities each year, so having a bit of extra income via rentals was helpful.

We also ran a leadership development program in person for 10 straight days. We had three lovely “trekkers” and had a blast. It was the most “campy” thing we did all summer, and it was great to do some of the typical summer activities like backpacking and work projects with them.

Katepwa Camp:

We had a very successful July. We had 28 staff participate during our staff development weeks, where we focused on spiritual and leadership development. This was a two-week event. We hosted 25 LITs in late July. We graduated 8 students out of 2nd year and discipled 17 very hard-working and enthusiastic 1st years. All in all, we feel we have had a very productive summer investing in our leaders and property. We believe we are well-positioned to have a very successful 2021!

White Rock Baptist Church:

White Rock Baptist Church had two weeks of amazing Bible teaching and tons of fun! 91 kids learned that Jesus’ power helps us do hard things, gives us hope, helps us be bold, lets us live forever and helps us be good friends! They memorized scripture, heard Bible stories, made crafts, danced to great worship music and even watched two baptisms.

At least one child gave their life to Jesus as Lord and Savior! A majority of the kids had never been to church or heard about Jesus before. The kids had so much fun. They didn’t want it to end and are looking forward to next year.

P.S. We also raised over $1000 for the Food Bank!

Gull Lake Centre:

This summer we wanted to do something. We knew it wouldn’t be like our regular camps, but we wanted to create a space for campers nonetheless that was safe, relational, and fun like we do every summer.  The COVID rules allowed for us to run day camps – that that is what we did.  Day camps with a max of 48 campers, all distanced and often wearing masks.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was something.  It was a break from the norm where kids could come to camp for a day and interact with old and new friends, be cared for by the summer staff, have some silly fun with dinosaurs, and aliens, relax at the beach, and spend some time in the Bible. I am so proud of our summer staff team for putting this on and adapting to all of the different rules and regulations.  We ended up serving over 300 individuals this summer, far less than the expected 1200, but I am thankful for the opportunity to bring a little bit of camp into the world this summer.

Spotlight on Beulah Garden Homes

Beulah Board Members  *picture taken pre-covid

Beulah Garden Homes is a caring community that provides affordable housing and assisted living for maturing adults. We strive to build a safe, healthy neighbourhood for all residents to call home. 

Have you ever come away from a conversation surprised by how different it was from what you had anticipated? That happened to me on a gentle, summer afternoon when colleagues from Beulah and Kinbrace met with Fayaz and Maryam, along with Ibrahim and Shukreyah—two couples that had both recently arrived at Beulah. These four first found a home at Kinbrace in Vancouver, a home that welcomes refugee claimants, before they later moved to Beulah Garden Homes. It is a beautiful thing to see how the partnership of CBWC, Kinbrace and Beulah Gardens facilitated the welcome which led to this gathering.    

When we met, I wanted to learn from these couples what it was like to leave their country, to make such a long journey and to arrive here. I was also curious to hear how it felt for them now that they were settling into a new land, culture and home. I came with some questions. What was it like to arrive in Canada? How would you describe your experience of finding housing at Kinbrace and then at Beulah Gardens? Because I have heard stories of refugees before, I anticipated hearing how their journey was both instigated by and suffused with losses, pain and suffering.   

Here’s where the surprises began. The two couples set a table outside under the shade of a tree, brought food and tea, (homemade borak is delicious!) and created a generous welcome, far more than I expected. Where I thought I was the one to offer welcome, they welcomed us and offered what they had with delight and abandon.   

When I asked them about their experience upon arriving in Canada, Fayaz + Maryam were keen to tell me how the authorities that they encountered were “white-hearted and full of generosity.” They commented about the easy access they had to all that they needed, something which they did not expect. Ibrahim and Shukreyah were also eager to tell me how they were surprised to be met with kindness and respect from the moment of their arrival to Canada. 

Fayaz and Maryam told of how surprised they were that, when they arrived at Kinbrace, the first person to meet them even carried their suitcase into their new home (!) and then brought them to the market to help them get food. Ibrahim and Shukreyah described Kinbrace as a place of family where they found brothers, sisters, hugs and much warmth. All four spoke only briefly about the deep pain of leaving their first home, but described Kinbrace as a place of healing where their feelings of loss began to dissipate. The family connection that they received at Kinbrace is a strong thread of grace which has continued for them, even as they moved into Beulah Gardens. 

When they described their experience of moving into Beulah Gardens, both couples focused on the great joy that they have received by having their own place, their own house, their own garden. What’s more, they have found openness, kindness and support at Beulah as they continue to settle more deeply into life in Canada.   

Fayaz and Maryam told us that they have had many experiences of encountering people with power and authority, and from this, they understand the nature of goodness. I learned from them that this goodness is an element of our common humanity that strangers can give to each other, no matter the limitations of language, faith, culture, or loss. I also sensed from their story that their experience of needing the kindness of people—stranger or neighbour—has, at times, been much less than good. But they didn’t tell us more about those experiences. Instead, they told us that “the people they met at Kinbrace and Beulah seek what is true.” They spoke of “finding ambassadors of good, ambassadors of hope” to help them when they arrived into their new life. 

I listened to them while being served a feast out of their generosity and thought. These are people who, even in their respective journeys of suffering, have chosen still, to search for and trust what makes us all truly human and made in God’s image. Both couples told me how fervently they pray for Canada, Kinbrace and Beulah, every day, with gratitude and hope. Fayaz said, “The kind human being never walks the wrong path.” Both couples encouraged us “to keep in mind love, respect and kindness,” for their experiences had taught them that these things were true. I recognized that I was hearing words of life and felt the blessing of their faith, even as it is different to mine. The afternoon got me thinking about the story of Elijah the prophet and the widow of Zerapheth.    

When Elijah showed up at the widow’s house, he was a stranger of a different faith who was in great need of bread, water and a place to call home. What he offered was confidence that the God of Israel would continue to provide for the widow, along with her son and family, and multiply it towards the coming days of need. The widow had limited resources, and was not sure how they would be enough for her and her son, let alone for Elijah, but she offered a home, what food she had and the choice to trust Elijah’s words. With what they each had as well as what they both needed, they stepped together into a relationship of mutual care and kinship. It became a stabilizing and continuing lifeline for each of them. What grace, what goodness.   

In Christ, we are always called into mutual relationships that characterize His grace and goodness, to be found in what we offer AND what we receive. Canada, Kinbrace, Beulah Gardens have offered Fayaz, Maryam, Ibrahim and Shukreyah a safe place to call home. In return, they have offered the blessings of their generous hospitality, their hope for our future together and faithful prayers for our well-being.    

I want to continue to look for, find, and be surprised by this shared grace and goodness that reaches past boundaries. I pray that Beulah Gardens will continue to be a place for  these relationships of goodness to bless all; that these characteristics of Christ’s love will fuel Beulah’s mission of building home and well-being, to become like the light of God set on a hill for many years to come.      

 BCY Regional Newsletter

Note from Larry Schram | Update from FBC Port Alberni  | Update from Southwest Community Church Kamloops

Bob Swann – A Story of Missional Living

In 1976, a young Bob Swann embarked on his first overseas mission trip to Kenya. Now, just over forty-four years later, Pastor Bob Swann marks another milestone; his retirement from being the Minister of Mission at First Baptist Church Vancouver.

Over the years, Pastor Bob and his wife, Anne, have lived in Liberia, Kenya, Toronto and Vancouver. They’ve worked with different churches and schools, with refugees and the homeless; building, teaching and serving in many different capacities.

Their journey began when they were high school sweethearts in Penticton, BC. Bob is the middle child of three, with an older brother and a younger sister. His father was a hard-working man who worked as a contractor, and his mother was a registered nurse.

While his parents were not Christians during his formative years, Bob says that the idea of missional living and learning how to listen to others’ stories was engrained in him because of the way his parents lived.

“My mother taught us to speak truth and to work hard. My father knew how to be a neighbour to the neighbours. He taught us a lot of amazing things, like endurance and how to innovate when you don’t have the right things to make something work,” said Bob. These skills, and his time around construction sites, helped him to be comfortable around all types of people and gifted him in building and mechanics, which helped prepare him for his life in missions.

A life defining moment in his high school years was when Bob came to know the Lord through his high school football coach, as well as a friend of his girlfriend, Anne. Both he and Anne gave their lives to the Lord and were baptized in their grade 12 year at First Baptist Penticton.

That fall, they both attended UBC.  Anne studied nutrition and food science, and Bob ended up studying Biology and Forestry. During their time there, they both got heavily involved with the Navigator organization. This was where Bob learned a lot about the scriptures and built a firm foundation for his faith.

After Bob finished his B.Sc. degree, he applied to Africa Inland Mission. With financial support from First Baptist Penticton, he ended up teaching biology and chemistry at a boys’ school for three months in Kenya, as well as fixing up some houses. Meanwhile, Anne had started her Master’s degree in Nutrition.

When he got back, he finished his thesis in 1977. At this point, both he and Anne felt a strong pull towards missions, but CBM required one official year of Bible school. One of the pastors at First Baptist Church Penticton was the well-known author, W. Phillip Keller. Phillip Keller was raised in Kenya and told Bob that since he couldn’t go back to Africa because of how many times he contracted malaria, he needed Bob to do what he couldn’t. Keller’s connection to Prairie Bible Institute in Three Hills, AB, prompted Bob to go and do his year of Bible school there. While he was there, Anne was in Brazil doing research for her Master’s thesis.

Just before Anne was to return to Canada, Bob’s mother passed away in a car accident on her way to work, just six weeks before Bob and Anne were to be married. She had just turned fifty. Five years before, Bob had had the profound experience of praying with his mom at the end of a

church service when she walked forward and gave her life to the Lord. That moment was a tremendous comfort as they came to terms with her loss.

“I was so thankful, so thankful that she knew Jesus,” said Bob. “When I got the phone call that she died in a car accident, the first words out of my mouth were, ‘That’s why there’s a heaven.’ That’s all I said. ‘That’s why there’s a heaven.’”

In January 1980, Bob and Anne left for their first assignment with CBM, a two-year posting in Liberia, West Africa. They were to be working with the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention school and were told everyone spoke English so language would not be a problem, and that Liberia was the most peaceful country in Africa.

Their first few days were an adventure. They couldn’t understand the English being spoken because it was pidgin English. No one was at the airport to pick them up so they spent three days wandering around trying to find their contacts, and within two hours of finally tracking down the Baptist leader, (who nearly fainted when he found out they had been wandering around Liberia for three days) they were sitting in the presidential mansion chatting with President William Tolbert, the president of Liberia and the Baptist World Alliance.

The school they would work with was a special project of President Tolbert. It was way out in the bush and he was very thankful to have them there helping. But just three and a half months later, on April 12th, the president was assassinated and Liberia was thrown into chaos.

Just thirty hours after the assassination, the rebels came out to the school. At four in the morning, the sound of horns honking woke Bob and Anne as the rebels drove up. Bob could see them getting out of their cars in front of his house. One of them shot his machine gun over the roof of their house, and Bob thought, Wow, we are in serious business now.

After getting dressed in the dark, Bob and Anne went out to greet them, thinking this would be better than waiting for them to kick the door down. Their leader, Harrison Dahn, was thankfully sober and asked Bob how things were going. Bob answered, “Well they were going okay, but things look a little shaky right now.” This made Harrison laugh a little. He said he had attended the school and had great respect for it. They then all went over to the principal’s house, where the rebels tore the picture of President Tolbert down, after which the soldiers went back to Bob and Anne’s and placed their machine guns on the table and ate fried eggs, coffee and fresh bread that Anne served. The rebels left without harming them.

Just a week after that, Bob had his vehicle stolen at gun point by another group of rebels. He was told he wouldn’t be able to talk to anyone for a month–none of the phones were working—and that they would be fine as long as they did nothing stupid. Without many options left, Bob loaded up the chickens he had been raising, and using the tractor and trailer that First Baptist Calgary had bought for the school, drove to the next town to sell the chickens on the street. He was able to get enough money to pay for fuel for a small plane owned by Mid-Baptist Missions. Their pilot offered to fly him to Monrovia, while Anne stayed with the pilot’s family. They flew at treetop level to avoid early detection. Once there, he lined up at one of a few working government phones. Bob got hold of Michael Lang by phone with CBM and asked him to Telex two air tickets on Pan Am. Three days later, by God’s grace, a driver from the school, named Sam Yarkpah, saw Bob and offered to drive him back to Anne. They weren’t supposed to drive after the 9 pm curfew, but Sam knew a back road through the rainforest and got him back to Anne by 6 am.

After they got their affairs in order, the small plane flew them both out and they were able to make it to the Liberia International Airport and fly to New York. There was a three-week period where no one had heard from them and did not know if they were alive or dead. When Anne finally reached her mother, by phone from New York, it was a very emotional call, to say the least.

They were back in Canada by May 1980. By July, CBM contacted them and asked them to be interviewed, by Ron and Joan Ward, to see if they would be suitable to team up with them for their work in NE Kenya, near the Somali border. Anne’s father was less than impressed.

He said, “You just took my daughter to Africa, almost got her killed, God got you out, and now you are going to go back?” Bob said, “I think he thought we had flipped a lid at that point, but we said ‘Yes, we are willing to go.’”

So, after some training at the World School of Missions in Pasadena, they flew to Kenya in October 1981. By that time, they had a three-and-a-half-month-old son named, David. They ended up staying until 1992, and had their other two kids in Kenya, a girl named Sarah and another boy, named Michael. They developed many relationships with Kenyan Somalis and gained a “street level” language ability over years.

At the beginning of 1991, the Somali Civil War began and CBM asked Anne and Bob to go to the Somali Border where refugees were arriving. Their knowledge of the Somali language and culture positioned them uniquely to serve in this crisis. They were based in Liboi, and five-hundred refugees were arriving daily. Many mothers had walked for ten days or more, arriving with their children on the brink of starvation. They did all they could, but they were still losing six to ten kids a day.

By August 1991, Bob was asked by the UNHCR to build more permanent hospitals and feeding centres in three camps surround Dadaab, which is located 80 kilometers away from the Somali border in Kenya. Anne took responsibility in two of the camps, Ifo and Dhagahaley, through CBM and the UNHCR, to help 16,000 children get emergency rations and escape starvation.

I cannot say that my ‘soul’ has healed from seeing this catastrophe unfold. But I have experienced some peace and healing when I read Isaiah 40:26 and realize God knows all of these children by name and He does not lose any of them,” Bob said.  To this day there are now almost 400,000 people still living in these camps.

In 1992, Bob and his family returned to Canada so the kids could have some experience in Canadian schools. During 1993-1994 they both took a study leave in Vancouver. Bob finished a one-year diploma at Regent College and Anne did a Dietetic Internship at Vancouver General Hospital. In August 1994, CBM asked them to move to Toronto to help the churches with their outreach to the 100,000 Somali refugees who recently arrived there.

During their time in Toronto their eldest son, David, got very sick in February 1998 with viral encephalitis, a severe brain infection. The doctors told them he had a 50/50 chance of surviving. He did survive, but had some permanent brain injury and had to spend six months in the acquired brain injury unit at Bloorview MacMillan. He was seventeen at the time. Bob said, “The next year-and-a-half was so hard on us all, but boy did people pray!”

In the midst of all that, they received an offer from First Baptist Vancouver to fill their Minister of Mission position. They decided it was God’s plan to return to BC and to give their kids time with their extended family, and accepted the job starting January 1,1999. One of Bob’s first key projects upon arrival in Vancouver was to start a Shelter Program to serve the marginalized street population that the church was keen to reach out to. The first homeless people slept in the church in March of 1999 and still runs to this day.

Until modified because of COVID-19 hit, they had fifty to sixty volunteers every Tuesday night cooking a big meal feeding 120-150 people. They also have 27 beds in the church for people to spend the night and a crew of ten volunteers that would come every Wednesday morning at 5 am to cook and serve breakfast and put away the bedding.

Bob also facilitated many 5-week medical/teaching mission trips to Africa, having gone fourteen times over the 21 years while at FBC.

In 2008, Bob had the privilege to go back to Liberia to see who survived at the school. It was the first time there had been peace in Liberia in 25 years. He went to the school and saw the man, who had driven him all night 28 years earlier, Sam Yarkpah, standing by the school. When Bob left, the people said, “Do not forget us.” No agency had been to help them in 31 years. In 2011, Bob and his friend, Dr. John Potts, got a medical team together and they went to Liberia. They have gone eight times in the last 10 years, the last one ending on March 18, 2020 right before COVID-19 shut everything down. They got the second last flight out of Liberia and were able to make it home.

Currently, Anne is still working as a public health Dietitian in Richmond, B.C. David lives with them, having completed his grade 12 equivalency by age 20, and a two-year job skills training course for adults. He has had steady part-time job which he enjoys, and is on disability.

As for Bob, though he has officially retired this year on August 31, he said, “I never truly will be done; you never retire from serving in the Kingdom of God.”

“I’m not going anywhere. I’m just going to become the most obnoxious volunteer they have ever had and act like I know it all when I don’t,” Bob laughed.

He said one of the greatest pieces of advice he can give is to be open to learning from the people you least expect to teach you.

“When you show them you are willing to learn from them, they become willing to learn from you,” Bob said. “The act of putting yourself in other people’s worlds gives them the willingness to listen to the truth of Jesus.” If they ask, why are you here?” You just say, “Jesus sent me.”

Note to all pastoral ministry leaders

Those in pastoral leadership know that restful rhythms don’t just happen—space must be created for rest and renewal. It has been a privilege to provide such a space to our pastors and spouses for the past 44 years in one of the most picturesque locales in the world!

Due to the exceptional and unforeseen global pandemic crisis, and out of care for the well-being and health of our CBWC family, we are unable to hold a viable Pastors and Spouses Conference in November 2020. In a year where so much has been cancelled and people have been “distanced” from one another, Banff would have been a wonderful place to, once again, connect face to face. While we cannot enjoy all that Banff has to offer this year, see https://cbwc.ca/bpc/ for three pieces of good news moving forward including a chance for those in pastoral leadership to stay at Banff Springs! The last day to book rooms at a discount is October 19, 2020.

We look forward to gathering again in 2021 for a chance to rest, connect, and grow in our relationship with God, self and others.

Other resources: We are working on other regionally based options and creative ways to nurture, encourage and support you through Fall 2020. Watch for details via the Events page in the coming weeks and months!

Welcome to the Team!

The CBWC is excited to welcome Joyce Rebman, as the new administrator for the Mountain Standard Region. Joyce and her husband, Gord, have two grown, married children—one living in Vernon, BC and the other in Edmonton, AB. Her family has a generational connection to a church camp at Lac St. Anne, which is where Joyce and Gord have a privileged spot in the summer to view the lake, when time allows. Joyce worked as a preschool administrator for a number of years and also has volunteered in many different church ministries. She enjoys being active within her home church, teaching in children’s Christian education, being involved with women’s ministries, and is willing to lend a hand wherever needed. She loves being outdoors, walking, reading and spending time with friends and family. Welcome, Joyce!  

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

Making Connections is the monthly newsletter of the CBWC.

Making Connections August 2020

Kurios is Running this Fall!

By Steve Simala Grant

Kurios is launching this September, and I am really excited about our core group of young adults who are preparing for our CBWC gap year experience centered around Jesus as Lord.

The reality of 2020 has been make your best plan, and plan to be flexible. Kurios was designed to be nimble, but starting a new ministry which includes a large portion of time travelling and interacting with churches and ministries is difficult in the midst of the global pandemic. So, we have Reimagined Kurios for this season.

Our re-imagined experience commits to the fall semester, discipling young adults in a program we know we can deliver now and in almost all health-related scenarios. Our core values guide this re-imagined experience, building a small community together that includes retreat, spiritual formation, teaching, and some Western Canada travel and outdoor adventure. As fall gives way to winter we will continue online until Christmas. We have space for 2-3 more young adults to join, find out more at https://www.kurios.ca/reimagined/ .

God continues to encourage us with His vision for cultivating leadership among the next generation, and I remain energized by the high call of walking with young adults as they seek to learn to love the Lord and love their neighbour. I have felt great support and commitment from the CBWC family, and am thankful for the ongoing support and prayer as we Reimagine Kurios and launch this new experience together. My great hope is that our kurios will fill this new ministry with His strength, power, and love.

Effective Online Ministry Course

The instructor Dr. Bryce Ashlin-Mayo is a pastor in Calgary whose academic specialization was in digital technology and the church. He has put his academic preparation to good use in his congregation. He will be teaching the online course at Ambrose Seminary for 3 days over a three-week period in August. One may register for all three workshops for $150, or $59 each. This may be helpful to our pastors as they continue a hybrid-style church service for the foreseeable future. The workshops can also be taken for seminary credit!

As an aside, Tyndale Academic Press will be publishing a book by Bryce on this theme toward the end of the summer.

The ‘COVID-Effect’: Pastoring the Pastor | July 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching effects economically, relationally, and in terms of mental wellness for everyone. Many CBWC pastors and ministry leaders have carried an increased load of pastoral care, technological learning curves, shifts in routine, and loss of loved ones in their personal lives and in the lives of their congregations and communities. As they have faithfully attended to the needs of others, they may have been tempted to ignore their own mental well-being and need for pastoral care.

In response, CBWC Executive Staff developed a COVID-Effect Zoom Series entitled “The COVID-Effect: Pastoring the Pastor” for CBWC Pastors and Chaplains, to come alongside them as they continue to live, love, and lead amid the changing landscape of ministry. The Zoom calls were hosted by Executive Staff and led by two faith-based psychologists, Dr. Todd Sellick and Dr. Hillary McBride. More than 81 registrants had the opportunity to take part in this resource which was offered in the Heartland, Mountain Standard, and BCY Regions.

The CBWC Executive Staff continue to virtually engage with and walk alongside our Pastors by:

  • Hosting regional ministerial cluster meetings
  • Offering one-on-one check-ins with local pastors
  • Providing pulpit supply and Board leadership support
  • Gathering COVID-19 provincial guidelines and updating website with resources
  • Offering crisis care through the Canadian Baptist Benefit Plan
  • Developing meaningful and relevant resources for pastoral leadership in the local church

Check out this amazing FREE resource offered by Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries: Faith, Grief and COVID-19: A Conversation 

Congratulations!

A big congratulations to Calvin and Keisha Nickel for the arrival of their twins Wyatt Alexander John, 5lbs 7oz, and Elsie Margaret Rose, 5lbs 15oz, on June 22nd! Calvin, Keisha and the big brothers Parker (age 3) and Nathaniel (21 months) are excited for the two new additions to their family, and so are we! Congrats!

Copyright ©  2020 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.

Making Connections is the monthly newsletter of the CBWC.

Making Connections July 2020

Cooks, Nurses, Chauffeurs and Errand Boys: Snapshots of the Spanish Influenza among Western Baptists

Like Canadian Baptists in Central and Eastern Canada, churches of the Baptist Union of Western Canada (BUWC) faced severe hardships due to the “Spanish Influenza” sweeping across Canada and the globe.

The monthly newspaper called The Western Baptist provided commentary on the impact of the pandemic on BUWC local churches. And, as the commentary below indicates, the impact varied from congregation to congregation. The responses of the churches were impressive, with a wide variety of ministries offered to the suffering. The following is a brief snapshot of the churches during those dark days.

The church in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, attempted to “carry on through the period of the ban” through “visiting, and personal and circular letters.” The church’s finances took a blow due to no services being held, and the finance committee needed to send out notices to inform members where they could drop off money to keep the ministry afloat. The church was active in helping in the midst of the pandemic, with the “whole adult membership of the church… helping the sick in the capacity of cooks, nurses, chauffeurs and errand boys.” The pastor and his family did get sick, but “escaped lightly.” ​

Ruth Morton Memorial Church in Vancouver was closed for weeks, with many members getting sick and a number dying. Many members acted as “volunteer nurses” tending to the needy in the church, and others worked in the city carrying out “Samaritan work” in hospitals and homes. ​

​The church in Droxford, Saskatchewan, was closed for two months. The work in the church was “severely hindered,” but fortunately there were no deaths.

Rapid City Baptist Church lost a young man to the flu. He had been working on a power plant.

The church in Kelowna had to cancel its fall revival services. The church continued to meet in smaller groups (“cottage meetings”) in homes, and distributed tracts and Gospels.

Some churches in Alberta had been closed for nine weeks and counting. One woman in Vancouver nursed the child of a woman who died with the flu, and did so until she, herself, was stricken with the illness.

​McDonald Church in Edmonton was closed for seven Sundays, as was First Baptist in Dauphin.

The BUWC annual meeting was not postponed due to the pandemic because its meeting was early in the new year (unlike central and eastern Baptists who had to postpone their fall meetings in what had been prime-time pandemic season).  The leaders met in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, in January 1919. The pandemic was not over, but the churches had weathered the worst of the storm and there was cautious optimism about the future.

There is much more to be done in terms of researching the churches’ responses to the pandemic, but a lesson for today that can be gleaned from their experience is that one way to deal with such a crisis is to “help the sick in the capacity of cooks, nurses, chauffeurs and errand boys.”

CBWC Foundation Announcement

As you may be aware, the Foundation is undergoing some changes, and although this impacts some of what we do, we remain committed to serving the CBWC community, specifically for financing needs, education grants and donation options. Transitions can appear messy, but we do remain encouraged and excited to introduce the team leading us through this next season. 

Our Staff

Victor Ku is currently acting as part-time Interim President, along with continuing in his role as the Director of Administration and Finance for the CBWC, where he has served since 2011. Victor graduated with a B.Sc.(Engineering) degree from the University of Guelph, majoring in Agricultural Engineering, and obtained a M.A. in Applied Theology from Regent College. Victor has 23 years of corporate experience in various engineering fields and, in 2005, felt the call of God in his life to serve in a new missional capacity. email: vku@cbwcfoundation.ca 

Christine Reid started with the Foundation in 2012 and continues to serve in her existing role as VP Operations. Chris is a SAIT Business graduate, offers 25 years of experience in corporate and retail lending, completed the Mortgage Associates Program in 2012, passed her Canadian Securities exam and sat on the Partners in Deed Board from 2012-2017. In addition to managing the loans portfolio, Chris will continue to facilitate education grants and share donations. email: creid@cbwcfoundation.ca

Nataliya D’yachenko is serving part-time as the Senior Accountant of the Foundation, in addition to her continued role at the CBWC. Nataliya joined the CBWC family in 2011, first at the Foundation (one-year contract), and subsequently joining the CBWC team. She graduated with a B.Sc. degree in Math from the University of Dnipro (Ukraine) and is currently working towards her CPA designation. She has 16 years of accounting experience. email: ndyachenko@cbwcfoundation.ca

Our Board
Herb Ziegler – Chairman
Sam Breakey
Nora Walker
Loralyn Lind
Ken Ritchie
Larry Nelson
Henry Dethmers

For more information go to the website: http://www.cbwcfoundation.ca, or reach out to their team by phone or email anytime.

 Heartland Regional Newsletter

The Potential of Professional Development | Once a Pastor, Always a Pastor | Summer Reading Suggestion

Congratulations Mark Doerksen! 

The CBWC wants to offer a huge congratulations to Heartland Regional Minister, Mark Doerksen, for completing his Doctor of Ministry degree! This was a significant undertaking and we are very proud of his accomplishment.

The title of his final project was The Connection Between Baptism and Membership Practices in Canadian Baptists of Western Canada Churches.  

Below are some comments from Mark:

I wish to thank the CBWC pastors who helped me in my studies by completing a survey about baptism and membership practices in their churches.

 To finish a project like this requires support from different people in my life, and I’m grateful for the following, though the list is not exhaustive: my wife Mary and our kids who were very patient and understanding; Rob Ogilvie, the Executive Minister of the CBWC, was very encouraging and helped me navigate my professional development to get the project completed; the various instructors at Carey Theological College and my supervisor Dr. William Brackney, who were encouraging and insightful as they supported me in my studies.

 This final project has helped me grow in appreciation for the Baptist story, for the historical Baptist desire to return to New Testament practices and to work hard at the concept of a regenerate church. I hope to have further conversations with interested folks as a result.

 Finally, I am now much more skilled in the use of Ebsco resources, obscure bibliographical references, and the Oxford comma. I count Kate Turabian, author of A Manual for Writers, as a close, family friend.

You can read more about Mark’s experience in this month’s Heartland Regional newsletter. Below is the 2020-2021 Carey Theological College Course Schedule.

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

Making Connections is the monthly newsletter of the CBWC.

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.

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.  

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.  

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.  

Making Connections January 2020

Walking Through Mental Illness – A Spiritual Journey

An interview with author Tim Colborne

Mental health is something that we are becoming more and more aware of as a crisis in our society. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), one in five people in Canada will experience a mental health issue or illness. They also state that by age forty, 50% of people will have or had an experience with mental illness. These are huge numbers which bring many questions to mind, one of which is how does mental illness fit in with our spiritual journeys? As Christians we believe our strength and joy come from the Lord; when you’re battling depression or other forms of mental illness it can be hard to see how the two fit together.

Timothy Colborne tackles these questions and many others in his book; Directions for Getting Lost: The Spiritual Journey Through the Wilderness of Mental Illness. Tim served the CBWC as the pastor of four churches over the course of his career. He also served as the Director of The Ascent Leadership Program and assistant professor at Carey Theological Seminary. As well, he as has led several spiritual retreats and taught seminars on Spiritual Formation and on Social Justice. He earned his Master of Divinity from Winnipeg Theological Seminary and his Doctor of Ministry (in Spiritual Formation) from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Boston MA.

I had the pleasure of conversing with Tim about his new book and his thoughts on mental illnesses and the church. Below is our conversation.

 First off, tell me a little bit of what the book is about and how you came to write it?

After my initial breakdown in 2009, I began to journal my experience of losing any sense of God’s presence in my life. I was in a very dark place where I felt that I had been abandoned by God. In fact, I experienced a sense of isolation from everyone and everything, including myself. After a while, I realized that I might be writing a book. The book is not an autobiography, it is a search for a way back from the sense of being lost that many mentally ill persons experience. The book explores the questions: Is it possible to live a deep and fulfilling spiritual life while contending with mental illness? Can the mentally ill find wholeness?

What is something that God taught you through the process of writing this book?

 I think that I have learned that God does not provide simple answers and solutions to those of us who struggle with mental illness or with any suffering. Job longed for the opportunity to stand before God and get answers to his questions of why he had to suffer. He never did get an answer, but was given a new perspective on his life in relation to God and all of creation. I’ve come to realize that all I can do is embrace the brokenness in my life as a significant aspect of my journey toward wholeness in God. I will always wrestle with mental illness. And it will always make my spiritual journey particularly challenging, but not hopeless. I have the unique opportunity to be used by God, not in spite of my mental illness but even because of my mental illness. 

How would you say the church’s views on mental illness has changed over the years?

There is an openness in our society in general to talk about mental illness, and many of the stigmas with regard to mental illness have been addressed. But the Church has not done enough. I asked a woman who suffered with clinical depression whether her church was supportive. She laughed and said, “My church is the last place I would reveal that I have a mental illness.” The church needs to become more educated about mental illness. It would be as simple as having a number of seminars that address mental illness. Churches need to become sanctuaries for the mentally ill. A place where they feel safe and supported. That can be done by becoming, in general, more open and inclusive, where unity does not require uniformity, where there can be diversity without divisiveness. And the church needs to be a place where lament is normalized. By that, I mean churches need to be places where one is free to be broken and to express that brokenness. We often create an ethos where one is expected to be joyful all the time. If not, one can be made to feel their relationship with God is weak or that they lack faith. In short, the church needs to be a place for all people, because the church by definition is a gathering of broken people.

Often, when we hear people struggle with mental illness, we want to offer get-better-quick solutions, which ultimately don’t end up helping. (i.e. just eat better, get more sleep, read more scripture). What advice would you give to pastors and people of support when others come to them?

The issue is trust. It’s hard enough to gain someone’s trust, but especially to gain the trust of a person who struggles with a mental illness. The problem is that we often think we need to provide an answer, a solution. No mentally ill person is looking to the pastor or anyone else for a simplistic or pat answer as to what they need to do. The advice I would give to pastors and other caregivers is to build trust over time. This may take a long time. Come alongside. Don’t see them simply as someone who has a mental illness. They are people with interests and passions and gifts and lots of other qualities that have nothing to do with their mental illness. Get to know them. The biggest issues for those of us who have mental health issues are shame and vulnerability. They already feel shame and believe they are not worthy of anyone’s attention. So be that person who patiently (and gently) is there for them. But keep in mind that their fear of vulnerability may cause them to hold back. That’s why trust needs to be built slowly. One thing pastors can do is to find that person something to do, a way to contribute to the church’s ministry. Doing all you can to instill in them a feeling of self-worth and a place of belonging are huge factors in ministering to the mentally ill.

What is one thing you hope people will take away from reading your book?

I think the book will have accomplished its goal to the extent that it affirms the mentally ill person as having a place of belonging and value in the Kingdom of God and the Church. I want people to come away with a true sense of hope, both as mentally ill persons but also as people who have a loved one with a mental illness—to know that spiritual wholeness is attainable for the mentally ill.

If you would like to read Directions for Getting Lost: The Spiritual Journey Through the Wilderness of Mental Illness click on the Amazon link below.

https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B081J6BTSW/ref=x_gr_w_bb_sin?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_sin_ca-20&linkCode=as2&camp=15121&creative=330641

Embracing the Darkness of Winter

By Jenna Hanger

January is officially here! The Christmas season with all its lights, glamour and hope has passed and we have finally entered into the year of the vision puns.

Unfortunately, January also brings on a whole host of other things when you are blessed to live where we do—darkness, cold weather and icy roads—which can lead to a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as The Winter Blues. In short, people tend to feel a bit depressed in the winter months, often complaining of feeling tired all the time, battling with mental health, trouble sleeping, etc. It can be a very trying and lonesome part of the year.

There is a way to combat this, and it is effectively summed up in one word; Hygge (pronounced hoo-guh). Hygge is a Danish term that gained some popularity in North America over the past few years. There isn’t a clear English translation for it, but ‘cozy’ is close. It also can mean ‘comfort or to console.’ Put simply, Hygge is the practice of embracing the darkness of winter. It encompasses all the things you might imagine; warm socks, candles, lattes, sitting by a fire, wool sweaters…basically it means celebrating the coziness of the season instead of the bleakness.

It can be used as a noun, verb, adverb or compound noun, and while you can practice Hygge by yourself (say by sitting with a heated blanket, your favourite hot beverage and a good book) it is actually meant to be celebrated with others. The truest form of Hygge is to spend time in an intimate and cozy atmosphere with loved ones. The perfect Hygge scenario would be sitting with a group of friends around a fire, drinking hot chocolate or playing a board game. In other words, spending intentional time in fellowship with one another.

There are many books that cover this subject, along with How-To guides, but honestly the best guide of all is in scripture. The Bible urges us to walk in relationship with one another, to spend time in fellowship and to take care of those around us.

We are called to practice hospitality and love our neighbours as ourselves. Winter is actually the perfect time to do this. So many people spend the winter months at home watching Netflix and waiting until it is warmer outside. Why not take this opportunity to really show God’s love to others?

It is very easy to do this practically; invite people over for a meal and a games night, spend time learning about someone’s life over a latte by the fire, or sit around with friends and listen to a sermon or audiobook with a fuzzy blanket. We are all stuck in the same boat anyways, we may as well take advantage of this time when we are all forced to slow down and be indoors.

So, instead of letting the minus degree weather get you down, let’s try and take a page out of Denmark’s book. Let’s make the most of this season and enjoy all the warm comforts around us in fellowship with others. I guarantee you will be a lot more fun than the alternative.

Heartland Regional Newsletter

Note from Mark | Finding What You Weren’t Looking For

Start Small to Live Big

Doing Life Together in a Small Group

The start of a new year is the perfect time to evaluate where you’re at and what might be missing in your life. An important part of our walk as Christians is not only attending church but really plugging in to it and developing deep relationships with those around us. A practical and fun way to do this is by joining a small group. Sometimes it feels like we don’t need yet another weekly commitment, but there are so many different formats for small groups; there is no right or wrong way to go about it.

Ashlyn Faber, the current Worship Coordinator at Brownfield Baptist Church has had a lot of experience with small groups and has shared with us how it has impacted her life, and how they use a unique format to make it easier for families: 

My husband and I have been very blessed to have small groups as part of our lives. From being involved as a teen, to helping lead a youth group in our college years, to gathering a cohort of people around us as we raise our own children. There is something beautiful about gathering together in a living room around the fire, or around a table full of food, or even just being on the same text thread throughout the week. It’s not that we don’t see each other Sunday at church, because we do. But this is different. This feels like we get to do life together each week. And when you do life together, you get to know each other in such different ways. Starting off can be a bit awkward, and maybe even feels like work at times. But quickly these people have become some of our dearest friends, and people we wouldn’t want to journey without.

Carving out a time to meet isn’t always easy when you’re melding many busy schedules together. Our group right now consists of five families- ten adults and thirteen kids (ages ranging from nine months to fifteen)- but we’ve found a routine that works for us! We have a four-week rotation:

Week 1 Ladies’ Night

Week 2 Men’s Night

Week 3 Couples’ Night

Week 4 Family Night

Practically, this means that we only need a babysitter one night out of the month. A bonus in this particular season of life! But it also creates and provides a rhythm of down time for the one that gets to stay home and tuck the kids into bed. Most nights we meet in the evening, with the exception of Family Night. It’s special because we share a meal together and our kids are all involved. Each night can be completely different, with its own unique flair, but we always try to incorporate praying for each other. Nothing fancy. Just meeting together.

There isn’t a magic formula, just get a group together and find a routine that works for you. Journey with each other and see what God will do!

If you have been interested in being a part of a small group but haven’t taken the plunge yet, don’t let this year pass you by without giving it a shot. There is no time like the present for trying new things!

#weareallcbwc

Coming in 2020 we are excited to launch another aspect of our #weareallcbwc campaign on our social media platforms. Twice a month we will feature different profiles of people from our churches (think of Humans of New York format). If you or anyone you know has a story they would like to share we would love to hear it! It could be part of your testimony or what God is has done or is doing now in your life. Contact Jenna Hanger at jhanger@cbwc.ca for more info!

Please feel free to put this information in your bulletin to spread the word!

Curious about Kurios?

Don’t miss the Dessert Info Nights coming soon!

Vancouver Island – Jan.25 7PM – New Life Community Baptist

Lower Mainland – Jan.26 7PM – Trinity Baptist Church Vancouver

Okanagan – Jan.11 7PM – Summerland Baptist Church

Edmonton – Feb.2 7PM – Leduc Community Baptist Church

Calgary – Feb.1 7PM – Westview Baptist Church

Regina – Feb.8 7PM – Westhill Park Baptist Church

Saskatoon – Feb.9 – 7:30PM – Emmanuel Baptist Church

Winnipeg – Jan.19 7PM – Filipino Evangelical Church

Virtual – Feb.9, 7:30pm – RSVP for link to join via webinar

Go to https://www.kurios.ca for more information and to RSVP!

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

Making Connections is the Monthly Newsletter of the CBWC.  

Making Connections December 2019

Kurios – The New CBWC Gap-Year Experience

“… at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Kurios,
    to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:10-11 NLT)

Kurios is the new CBWC Gap Year Experience, launching in September 2020.

 A “gap year” is an opportunity for young adults to explore their world, identity, and character before starting higher education or a career.  For more than 40 years, Harvard has recommended that all their first-year students postpone entrance to college for one year: https://college.harvard.edu/admissions/apply/first-year-applicants/considering-gap-year

 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada are excited to offer a gap year experience that will enable our young adults to encounter, pursue, and learn to love Jesus as Lord (kurios) over all areas of life—heart, soul, mind, and strength—and to learn and be equipped to love others as Jesus has loved us. In this, students will find the joy, freedom and purpose of being a useful part of God’s incredible plan for all people.

 Kurios is twenty-eight weeks of focussed discipleship and leadership training, all about seeking Jesus together and pursuing Him as Lord of all. Fourteen of those twenty-eight weeks will be at our home base in central Alberta (Gull Lake), where we will learn, work, and play together around a daily rhythm of morning prayer and evening prayer. Our teaching times will be wholistic, interactive, and experiential—covering topics including scripture, prayer, identity, spiritual disciplines, ministry and giftedness, leadership, justice issues and creation care.  Seven of those twenty-eight weeks will be in Costa Rica with our Canadian Baptist Ministries partners, where we will serve in ministries, learn about the church from our Latin American siblings, and explore God’s beauty in creation. We will spend five weeks travelling Western Canada, engaging in ministries and learning from experts doing ministry in our culture. We also plan to spend two weeks in outdoor adventure, hiking or snow shoeing or kayaking (to be determined).  

 And it doesn’t end after the twenty-eight weeks. We are committed to regular alumni gatherings, on-going mentorship, and mutual support after the program ends. Because following Jesus is a life-long pursuit—a “long obedience in the same direction” as Eugene Petersen put it.

Please pray for Kurios (specifically please pray for twenty-four students next September!), invite young adults to consider Kurios, and support Kurios financially

 To really get a feel for the heart of our program, check out our introductory video here.

 Come find out more! We are coming to a city near you with an info/dessert night to present Kurios, answer questions, and hopefully meet interested students/parents.  Please email steve@kurios.ca to RSVP (and include which location you plan to attend).

Save the date – BLTS/Ascent alumni reunion weekend. Come help launch Kurios with the strength of the BLTS/Ascent history!  May 22nd to 24th, 2020 (hosted by CBWC and Kurios; at Altadore Baptist Church).   Please email steve@kurios.ca to RSVP.

Watch for our BRAND NEW www.kurios.ca website coming mid December!

Celebrating Time Together: Banff 2019

By Shannon Youell and Cailey Morgan, CBWC Church Planting

From November 4th to 7th, pastors, spouses and ministry representatives from across the CBWC gathered for the 44th annual Banff Pastors and Spouses Conference. We basked together in the goodness of God, enjoyed His creation, and responded through worship with Fraser Campbell Band and celebration around the table.

Monday night kicked off with a “Pastors vs Postors” game show, hosted by NextGen Director Peter Anderson. He helped many of our pastors, spouses and ministry contacts discover skills they never knew they had, or at least never knew they needed!

Keynote speaker Ken Shigematsu, author of Survival Guide for the Soul and God in My Everything, spoke about our personal journeys of devotion and rhythms of life. His vivid reminders of the love of our heavenly Father helped us consider how we will live out of the gratitude and peace that comes from knowing that we are God’s kids. We were invited to wear the yoke of the perfect love of the Father. Ken invited us to daily put this yoke on for, when worn, the way we breathe and live and move in this world will be changed.   

Bible study leader, Lissa Wray Beal, took us on a journey through the Waters of Power, the Waters of Sorrow and the Waters of Comfort through Psalms 144, 137 and 23. Psalm 144 reminds us that our God, the One God, is all powerful and at work all around us, inviting us to join Him. The lament of Psalm 137 invites us to recognize that sorrow and pain are a part of this world and how to find our offering of praise in the midst of our anguish, anger and angst. It also asks us to allow ourselves to be transparent and honest to selves and to one another as we minister and pastor.  Finally, after acknowledging our God is One and All, who walks with us in the midst of the sorrow, we find that oft elusive comfort of the Shepherd’s Psalm, which helps reorient us again in our faith, our hope and our joy as the people of peace who rest in our Creator’s great love for us. 

On Wednesday we were taken on a journey through the many facets of wellness; spiritual, physical, mental and emotional. Each of the 15-minute talks on these important topics are available on CBWC’s Vimeo page.

 We are thankful for the time Banff Pastors and Spouses Conference affords us to be gathered with our sisters and brothers from across CBWC, leading congregations large and small, rural and urban towards faithfulness to the ways of Christ.

Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter

Note from Dennis | Congolese Community |  Fishing Retreat | Brownfield Baptist Visit | & more

Life in the Light of Eternity – A JMN Blog

 

The Justice and Mercy Network (JMN) is made up of interested people from across our association of churches. Jodi Spargur, Faye Reynolds, Jeremy Keay, Bruce Martin, Chuck Harper and Mark Doerksen are on the network currently. They meet several times a year to discuss justice issues and attempt to equip our churches for similar discussions or Bible Studies. The Justice and Mercy Network (JMN) is part of the CBWC’s Ministry Priority known as Engaging in Mission, and two focus areas for the JMN include Sponsoring Refugees and working with Indigenous people. The JMN also has some further interests, one of which is Addressing Homelessness. That’s where Chuck Harper’s story comes in. Chuck is a chaplain working with North Okanagan Community Chaplaincy in Vernon, B.C., in conjunction with First Baptist Church Vernon. Chuck writes:

I have been in ministry either full-time, part-time or volunteering for over 40 years. There have been times in my Christian life where I have asked myself, “Am I being effective? Could I do more? How is my ministry changing people lives in light of eternity?”

Recently, two events happened that have not only confirmed that I am being effective for the Kingdom, but have also empowered and encouraged others in their walk with God and life.

The first event happened as I was preparing to lead a chapel service at our local soup kitchen. I had the question on my heart about being effective when a staff person came up to me and asked me a question that came out of left field. He said, “Do you remember when we first met?” I responded, “When we started working with each other.” He said, “No,” and then explained that it was when I worked at one of our shelters. The Reader’s Digest version of the story is that when we first met, I treated him with respect at a time in his life when he was very low. At the end of our conversation, he told me that it was this interaction that saved his life. Instead of ending it he went to recovery, treatment, became a man of faith and now works in a thrift store, helping others along the way. I got to share with him my own story and questions.

The second event happened not long after that. I came into the office to find a package that literally blew my mind and has encouraged me to continue the journey the Lord has led me on. But even more than that, it is a testimony of God’s faithfulness and His using the body as a whole.

The package was an award from the Social Planning and Research Council of B.C. It is the SPARC BC Deryck Thomson award. It came with a cash gift as well. The award is given annually, and NOCC was nominated because of the work we do in advocating, speaking, empowering and supporting our homeless and impoverished community.

The changed life and the award are not just me being faithful to what the Lord has put on my heart. It is about the volunteers, the prayer warriors, the financial supporters, the churches and organizations, the members of our community who walk alongside our homeless and poor. It is about those we are called to serve. They, too, deserve this award.

As I write this, I am at a conference where we are trying to help other agencies receive the funding they need to keep on helping our houseless become housed. To be able to support our poor and marginalized is a big deal. I also believe that as the body of Christ we need to do more to help others find Christ, and empower them to become the next generation of Christ followers who in turn help others find Him.

Sometimes, along the way we become discouraged, but when you do, remember to look around you, for you may see a life that has been changed—and God decided to use you to change it.

Chaplain Chuck Harper

What a joy it is for us to be engaged in ministry alongside Chuck. FBC Vernon has ordained Chuck to be a truthteller and motivator in the city. Not only are we pushed out of our comfort zones for the Kingdom, we’ve seen many of the local churches also respond with the love of Jesus for the marginalized. As homelessness and addiction become increasingly visible and in the news, it’s wonderful to see the church community engaging in a grassroots way. From administration, cooking, serving, eating with, singing alongside to cleaning up and prepping for next time, many are finding out how they can be Jesus to our neighbours. Thanks, Chuck, for all you do, for how you inspire many churches, and congrats on this award—for you and all those who serve alongside you.

Randy Hamm and Laurie MacKay | Pastors, First Baptist Church Vernon

For further information on the JMN and for further resources, please check out the following page: https://cbwc.ca/our-ministries/social-justice/

Giving the Gift of Love & Generosity this Christmas Season

By Jenna Hanger

We are pleased to welcome Jenna Hanger as our new Senior Editor and Writer. After living for a time in Red Deer, AB working in the newspaper industry, she moved back to her hometown of Brownfield, AB. She lives there with her husband and two young daughters. When she isn’t busy chasing them, she can be found helping on the family ranch or writing. Jenna is ecstatic to be joining the CBWC team and can’t wait to see how God uses her in this position.

Anyone who knows me knows that Christmas is my favourite time of year. I love everything about it; the lights, the gift giving, carols and decorating cookies. Each year I get maybe a little too excited when November starts to wind down and I can start enjoying Christmas in full force. I own about five different Christmas sweaters, including one that jingles when I move. My husband lasts about five seconds before it ruins his meager Christmas spirit, but I can’t help myself.

And I can’t understand why everyone doesn’t get into the holiday spirit. What’s not to love? Yes, it is an expensive time of year. Yes, it has gotten commercialized and it can be stressful in the workplace with the holiday deadlines. But at the end of the day it is a season about family, about being generous with others and most importantly, at the heart of it all is Jesus. The ultimate gift from God; His son who was sent to earth to be sacrificed for us. It’s a gift I still, after years of being a Christian, have trouble wrapping my mind around. The amount of love that Jesus has for us is so incredible, so beyond our understanding it makes me want to wear my jingling sweater year-round.

What is more, I know that His love and generosity has spilt over into His churches here on earth. I have personally seen it in action. Two out of the last three Christmases have been a very emotional time for myself and my family. On November 26, 2016 my daughter Eden was born at twenty-five weeks gestation weighing 1.8 pounds. Suddenly all my glamourous Christmas plans were shattered. Instead of enjoying hot chocolate by a fire admiring our tree, we were staring at our little baby girl in an incubator as she struggled with the machines helping her to breathe.

It was an overwhelming time, but during it I saw God’s heart shine through His people. My hometown church, Brownfield Baptist, wrapped their arms around us and showered us in prayers and support. It was one of the most humbling times of our lives as gift after gift arrived for us, including a blanket signed and prayed over by the congregation.

Two Christmases later found me in a slightly different position. I was pregnant again and though I was farther along than I had made it last time, the doctors were not hopeful that I would make it to full-term. Once more, instead of being able to enjoy the holidays I was in a hospital far from home. My church never missed a beat and again lifted us up. I ended up making it to my due-date in March and I know it was because of the ceaseless prayer support.

That is what I choose to reflect on this Christmas season—the unrelenting generosity of Jesus Christ and the people who choose to follow Him. Mine is not the only testimony from this time of year. The Christmas Love Gifts that the churches voluntarily send out to retired pastors and their families is another powerful way God has displayed His love and generosity for His people. This simple gift of money is appreciated by so many, as evident by the hand-written notes sent to the CBWC.

So, as you gear up for this holiday season, I encourage you to really reflect on what an incredible gift God has given us, and then take the initiative to bless those around you. As the body of Christ, it is our responsibility to be the hands and feet of God. We must show His love and generosity and be His light here on earth. And so many people will need it this Christmas season, you don’t have to look hard to find someone who is hurting.

Your sister in Christ,

Jenna

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Making Connections is the Monthly Newsletter of the CBWC.