Heartland Regional Newsletter May 2023

Opportunity to Help Those Affected by Food Security

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

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

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

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

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

Mark Doerksen

“Feed My Sheep”

A testimony by Cheryl Johnson, First Baptist Church Regina

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

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

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

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

Cheryl Johnston

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