Orienting to God Prayer Initiative Video
Partner Spotlight: Hopehill
What’s New at Beulah in 2022? LOTS!
For those that don’t know us, we are an affordable housing society for older adults, located in the NE corner of Vancouver BC. We’ve been part of the CBWC for 70 years. We are home for 400 folks in 5 large apartment-style buildings. One of our buildings (The Cedars) is for “assisted living” and serves people with greater needs that require a measure of medical care. 80% of our residents are active, independent living seniors! And there is a lot of new happenings as of January 2022.
Firstly, we are changing our name. From here on we will be publicly known as “Hopehill-Living in Community” If you shorten names, just call us “Hopehill.” Our board has been deliberating for almost 2 years. We have some very ambitious growth plans over the next decade, and in deliberating, we realized that we needed a fresh name for a fresh start. The old name has served us but was unknown to too many people. It’s hard to spell, equally difficult to pronounce for new Canadians, and really didn’t evoke any quick, supportive Biblical memories. So, we changed.
Hopehill reflects that we are providing “hope” to aging adults in the form of affordable housing. If you know Vancouver, you know that affordable housing is hopeless for all. And it’s even more so for seniors living on a fixed income. We provide hope in this area. And we are located on a hill in our neighbourhood. Besides the literal geography of a hill, we are mindful that a “city on a hill cannot be hid” (Matthew 5:14). We sense we have a role to play in senior care thinking to our larger Vancouver world, and especially to our CBWC world. We aren’t experts, we are just experienced; and we need to NOT HIDE it, but share it.
Secondly, we are launching the first of 3 new residences on our campus, hopefully by late summer of 2022. This 64-unit building will be for independent living senior adults, who need affordable housing in Vancouver. It will be 48 studio apartments and 16 one-bedrooms. It will be ready for occupancy approximately 18 months after start. A commitment our board has made is to be sure that 50% of the residents are “from the household of faith” (Gal 6:10). If you, or someone you know, want to look into this as a future place of living, please contact us at email@example.com. It is intentionally designed for affordable living. You don’t have to be a BC resident to live with us at Hopehill.
Thirdly, January 2022 still finds us careful with COVID-19 realities. Staff are still wearing masks, hands are being sanitized, distances are being respected. Since March 2020, we have had 4 individual cases of COVID, but no outbreak. It is wearying on all—residents, their families and staff.
Finally, we have a practice of hiring summer interns for a paid learning experience. This year, between late May to late August, we will take on 3 university students who seeking experience in working with seniors. Fields of study may include: Nursing? Chaplaincy? Pastoral care? Social work? Counselling? Psychology? If you know someone of university age looking for experiential employment, we will be looking for students starting in February.
A Whirlwind of Miracles
Written by Jenna Hanger
The last year has been a whirlwind of miracles for Pastor Matthew Fox and his family, who started pastoring at Comox Community Baptist Church five months ago.
The journey which led them to the West Coast was a long one. When he was a teenager, Matthew felt the call to become a pastor. Over twenty-five years, he worked with four different churches in the Ontario area until he felt the Lord calling him to work specifically with churches who needed new life breathed into them. He worked with three different churches over the next few years: two of them were quite successful and in one of them he had to help close the doors.
About three years ago, when Matthew was working at Simcoside Lifepointe Church, God opened the door for them to volunteer in Israel. There, Matthew took up the position of General Manager at Nes Ammin, an organization that facilitates reconciliation and grows relationships between Jews, Arabs and Christians.
The position was challenging, especially with the complications COVID-19 presented, but the time they spent there was an amazing experience, and it was clear the Lord needed them there. After about a year and a half, it became apparent that a move back to Canada was what was best for their family, and a position in a church here would be a more efficient use of Matthew’s skills.
After a bit of looking and prayer, Matthew connected with our CBWC church in Comox and felt the Lord calling them to take up the pastor position there. He accepted the position in March 2021 and began making plans to move. This was the start of seeing God work in several miraculous ways to get them home and moved to the Comox area.
The first step was selling their home in Ontario—a beautiful house that Matthew had built himself, on a gorgeous piece of property. The housing market was going crazy when they listed, and the house sold within five days of being put on the market, in a non-conditional offer.
Having sold their house, they looked at what they could buy in Comox. Everything they put bids on was getting outbid. It was proving difficult to find something until they looked at a small house on 25 acres of land. The house was a bit small for their family of seven children, but the land was beautiful, and they could see the potential in it. They were outbid by three people, but the owners said they would consider another offer from them because they were a large family. By God’s grace, their offer was accepted and everything seemed to be lining up.
The plan was to arrive back in Canada early June, quarantine for two weeks, close their house deal on June 21st, move into their Comox house on June 27th and start work on July 1st.
Getting back into the country was a stressful ordeal; they were told they would have to hotel quarantine, which wasn’t a feasible option for them with their large family. It was another God moment that they were allowed to go home and quarantine there.
A few months before they arrived back home, some red flags were being raised by the people who had purchased their house. Some unreasonable demands were being made, which they did their best to accommodate. By the time they arrived back home, things had escalated so much that they were unsure if the sale would go through.
The Friday before the sale was to close on Monday, things looked very shaky. Matthew had planned on leaving Saturday for their cross-country move, but was told they’d better wait to see what happened with their house. They lined up the paperwork just in case they needed to relist the house. Sure enough, on Monday around noon, it was confirmed that the buyers did not intend to buy the house. This left Matthew in a stressful situation because he could not move the possession date of their new house but could not afford to own both properties.
They began their drive, trusting the Lord would help them in their situation, and told the real estate agent to relist their house. By 6 pm that night, their agent called with news that their house had sold again in another non-conditional offer. Another miraculous moment in their journey to Comox! Now the only issue was that the new possession date wasn’t until August and bridge financing needed to be secured––another obstacle, seeing as Matthew had not officially worked in two years. It took a lot of phone calls, prayer and paperwork, but by another miracle, on Friday they were informed they got it. It usually takes 4-5 businesses days to complete, but the Lord had it done by the following Monday.
Matthew said that looking at the situation now, it is very clear the Lord had His hand in working everything out for them to move to Comox. If they hadn’t been able to sell their house and buy their current one, he thinks they might have had to live in a holiday trailer for the past five months as no other suitable option has come up.
Matthew said that they feel beyond blessed to be a part of Comox Community Baptist Church; he is enthusiastic about the changes being implemented and has felt extremely welcome. He and his family are also very excited about their new home, with plans to turn it into a large fruit and berry farm and to build another house on the property.
“I really believe that when you honour God and do what He calls you to do, He looks after you. Over and over my whole life, that’s been my theme as I look back,” Matthew said. “We do what God asks us to do, as insane as it is sometimes. God has always looked after us.”
Year in Review
By Jenna Hanger
2021 marks the second year I have been the Senior Editor and Writer for the CBWC. While COVID-19 has prevented me from meeting anyone face-to-face as of yet, I have greatly enjoyed and count it a privilege to work on the stories each month for the Making Connections Newsletter. The very best part of my job is getting to hear the life stories of so many different, wonderful people and see how God is actively moving and impacting so many. 2021 was a tough year, but the stories that have been shared with us throughout it have been so amazing and uplifting. God certainly can use all things for good and for His glory. I am excited to see what comes next for CBWC churches in 2022 and all the things the Lord has in store for us–– but before we look ahead we wanted to take the time to look back and reflect on some of our favourite moments from the past year:
In January, we shared a testimony from Abigail Arthur, one of Kurios’ first students. Her reflection on her time at Kurios was so powerful. It is clear this is a program that is affecting and shaping young lives, and we are excited to be a part of it!
In February, we celebrated Joy and Dave Insley who had been married for 66 years. When asked what advice they would give to young, married couples today, they both agreed that being patient with each other was vital for a healthy marriage. It was such a pleasure to speak with Joy and Dave and to hear about their life together!
In April, we celebrated Creation Care with a thoughtful article by Jeremy Keay on behalf of the Justice and Mercy Network. In the article, Jeremy shared that a theology of creation care pursues a better way of seeing ourselves as unique creatures, custodians and keepers of the planet.
In May, I wrote an article that I am very passionate about titled A Major Crisis Facing the Church. I interviewed Dan Gowe, an addictions counsellor and member of West Point Baptist Church, who is transforming the lives of Christian men and woman who are fighting a porn addiction. We encourage pastors to reach out to Dan and the Men’s Group through their website: https://mensgroup.ca to learn more about this issue.
In June, I got to sit down with Pastor Brendon Gibson from Emmanuel Baptist Church and Pastor Hadyn Marshall from Elim Community Church in St.Vincent, to learn about the volcano disaster unfolding and how best to help and pray.
July was a truly significant edition as we took time to reflect on the mass graves being discovered at the Residential Schools, and what the churches response should be. We heard from Michelle Casavant who offered her #ownvoice perspective on the current issues.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Donna Forster for a Humans of CBWC story, that we shared as part of the September Making Connections. Donna wrote a fictional book heavily inspired by her time working with streetworkers. Her passion and story were truly inspiring.
In honour of Remembrance Day in November, I interviewed Rev. Dr. Major John Huh about his time serving as a Chaplain on an overseas mission. It was so interesting to hear how God is using pastors in the military!
February Book Club Meeting
Theology for the Ordinary has held two book club meetings so far. In October, we discussed the book Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren, and earlier in December, we discussed A.J. Swoboda’s After Doubt: How to Question Your Faith Without Losing It.
Our next book club meeting will be Wednesday, February 2nd at 6pm PST, where we will talk about N.T. Wright’s book entitled Broken Signposts: How Christianity Makes Sense of the World. This book is a follow-up to Wright’s book entitled Simply Christian. Amazon.ca describes the book as listing seven “signposts” that every worldview must answer. Wright shows how these signposts are broken and damaged and then proceeds to show how Christianity defines each signpost making them whole again, healing individuals and the world.
Please share this invitation with your congregation and those you know who may be interested. This book club is open to everyone. However, we ask that you RSVP for each book club meeting you plan to attend in order to receive the zoom link, even if you have attended in the past. RSVP to Cindy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Human Rights Day
December 10, 2021 was Human Rights Day. Mark Doerksen wrote this article, originally posted on JMN website
I came across a story a few years ago now that has both historical and Baptist roots, a story of Baptist missionaries who worked hard at relieving the oppression of the Congolese people at the hand of Belgian King Leopold, as he sought rubber for the increased production of tires, globally. Alice Seeley married John Harris in Britain, and together they left for missionary work in the Congo.
Before leaving for the Congo, Alice was gifted a Kodak Brownie camera, and this enabled her to document the atrocities happening to the Congolese people. She managed to get the photos out of the country, and traveled through the United States and Britain to stir up public pressure against inhumane activities occurring in the Congo. She took the now-famous photo of a Congolese father looking at his daughter’s remains on the stoop of her home. Her photographs and testimony were instrumental in bringing about the end of forced labour practices in the Congo. (Pictures were worth thousands of words – The Globe and Mail; for a 15 minute video, see https://www.lowellmilkencenter.org/newsroom/videos/view/kodak-in-the-congo-the-untold-story-of-alice-seeley-harris).
Stories of Baptists helping improve the lives of others are not new, of course. If you were to peruse the history of the Baptists globally, you would find that many a Baptist has contributed greatly to not only the spread of the gospel, but also to help give voice to the marginalized. William Carey, a famous Baptist missionary to India, worked hard in so many ways, and made significant contributions to the abolishment of female immolation, as well as the practice of infanticide. Additionally, Baptists have long been interested in human dignity, liberty, and rights, and these sorts of concerns are already evident in some of the earliest Baptist writings. Thomas Helwys, as early as 1612, was concerned about separation of church and state, and about religious freedom for all without compulsion (Propositions and Conclusions concerning True Christian Religion, containing a Confession of Faith of certain English people, living in Amsterdam; Articles 84 and 85).
December 10 has been designated as Human Rights Day. Human Rights came to renewed prominence after World War 2, as the United Nations was formed in 1945 in response to the atrocities committed during that global war. In 1948, representatives from the United Nations, under the guidance of the First Lady of the United States, Eleanor Roosevelt, announced the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This was essentially a list of 30 rights and freedoms that each human being should enjoy, and they continue to inform international human rights law. (What is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? | Amnesty International UK)
Given our Baptist tendencies towards spreading the gospel and improving the lives of those around us, how might we relate to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights today? To be sure, there can be controversy when it comes to the Human Rights dialogue, one of which can be a “potential loss of robust theological shaping and content” [Paul Doerksen, An Anabaptist Account of the Ecclesiological Shaping of the Relationship Between Theology and Human Rights Discourse: MQR 89 (April 2015)]. Others may say that a reading of the New Testament emphasizes how believers are to treat each other within the church, and that this ought to be our focus, as opposed to those outside the church. Still others are concerned that Human Rights can too easily be used to serve nationalistic and ideological agendas.
Perhaps a way forward is to consider some of the work put together by the Baptist World Alliance, an organization the CBWC is associated with via our ties with the North American Baptist Federation. The Baptist World Alliance developed a Declaration on Human Rights in 1980 and has sought to keep human rights issues on the radar of the global Baptist population. The Declaration suggests that to simply declare human rights is not enough. Instead, in the following efforts, Baptists seek to advance human rights in our world. First, evangelization remains important, for if we can agree that human rights are derived from God as all humans being created in his image, then it remains important for people to know God. Second, education is important, as people need to understand that the claims of Christianity teach us, for example, that dividing walls based on faith or race are not okay (Ephesians 2). Third, declaration—sounding the alarm when human rights are violated—remains significant. And fourth, The Declaration of Human Rights suggests that action is critical; Christians should minister in Jesus’ name to individuals whose human rights have been violated.
Some of this may seem far off, perhaps a little too difficult or controversial to consider. Yet if we look more closely at our world, at our nation, we will find situations where perhaps we need to revisit what it means to advance human rights from a Christian perspective. Given our historical Baptist precedence, let us do our theological homework and act accordingly as we seek to minister in Jesus’ name.
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Making Connections is the monthly newsletter of the CBWC.