What’s Happening in June
– Pray for Assembly 2023 June 1-3 in Calgary.
– Ordination Examining Council May 31-June 1 in Calgary, AB.
– It’s time to apply for Kurios! And if you’re working as full-time staff at Keats, Mill Creek, Gull Lake or The Quest this summer, you can also apply for an extra $1000 bursary towards your Kurios experience. Find out more: https://www.kurios.ca/campstaffbursary/
– SERVE is coming up soon: July 2-8 in Kelowna, BC.
– Join us for Active In Mission this summer: Walk, run, bike, kayak, cartwheel, hop, skip (or anything you wish, really) to help end hunger this July or August. Register today: activeinmission.ca
Churches Burn, Christians Flee for Safety in Manipur, India
Written by Jenna Hanger
Over 200 churches have been burnt to the ground in the state of Manipur, India. More than 70 lives have been lost, and 231 people been reported injured. 45 thousand people have been displaced. The numbers continue to climb as the systematic attack continues against the Tribals (Minor Christian Tribes) at the hands of the Meitei (Hindu-dominated).
On May 3rd, the indigenous communities held a rally to protest the Meitei’s demand for tribal status, which would allow them access to forest lands and even more control in the state. Violence erupted from this event, which continues today.
As details have emerged, it has become clear that these actions have been pre-meditated and state-driven, and that the protest was a thinly-veiled excuse. Several months before the violence erupted, a survey was taken that marked which homes were Tribal residences. These were the first homes targeted by the organized mob, which police were seen leading. In the first 48 hours, forty-five churches were already burned down.
The only journalists with access to the Internet are in the Meitei area, resulting in one-sided reports. No arrests have been made, and very little has been done to intervene as thousands of Christians are being forced to flee.
Lalpi Guite, a former Baptist Worship Pastor in the Vancouver area, and currently attends Trinity Baptist Church, has felt the turmoil deeply. Originally from Manipur, Lalpi has watched his family and friends forced to abandon their homes and all their possessions. The church his father helped build, where he attended growing up, has been reduced to nothing.
He has heard reports of his cousins having to carry his eighty-year-old aunt, who is barely coherent, from a camp where they were staying to a neighbouring state. Another relative of his wife’s—a nurse—took a bullet. A mob of hundreds forced his other cousins back into their neighbourhood when they were trying to flee. They stayed for five days before getting help to leave. They were able to evacuate to Bangalore to stay with family.
Lalpi said it’s been very upsetting being in Canada and hearing everything that is going on back home. For the Christians who have been in the thick of it, it has been challenging to know how to come to terms with the injustice.
“The Lord’s prayer is very much part of our tradition,” Lalpi said. “We say it in worship services and in prayer times at home. My cousin said, ‘How are we going to say the Lord’s Prayer now?’ She’s talking specifically about, ‘Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.’ Do we just keep quiet? Or what do we do?”
“The cost of following Christ—but also interpreting our own beliefs in our daily lives has been a struggle. The struggle is real, and the tension and the anger. The loss, the grief, all of that. And seeing the injustice, feeling the injustice—” Lalpi said, growing emotional.
The CBM has been watching the situation unfold and sharing updates on their Facebook page. On May 11th, they shared a list of prayer requests. Lalpi agreed that the number one thing Canadian Baptists can do is pray.
“The immediate thing is prayer. The pain is real. The cry of the people is real. We need to stand together with our brothers and sisters. Pray for justice. The fight is not against somebody, the fight is against injustice.”
Last week, on Monday, CBM shared the following update:
Update on the situation in Manipur, India:
Tension continues as some Meitei people are forcing Christians among them to recant their faith and join Hinduism, said a senior Church official.
The Meiteis community, which forms 53 percent of the state’s 3.2 million people, are mostly Hindus, but a tiny minority of them are Christians, mostly Protestants.
Most Meitei Christian worship in house churches, but some 240 of their house churches were destroyed.
The riots killed more than 70 people, injured 231 others, and damaged 1,700 houses, besides displacing over 45,000 people, local reports said. [https://www.ucanews.com/…/christians-face…/101401 ]
from our partners:
– A relief committee has been formed.
– The local churches have taken on the responsibility to adopt the families/homeless and care for them, with the relief committee providing assistance where needed.
– There are thousands of people in various camps as well as in various church properties in the hill districts.
– The neighbouring state of Mizoram, with a strong Christian population, has been sending some help.
“The churches in the Northeast have been through a lot, and they know how to get on their knees and pray. I know this time, the intensity and damage run deep—and it will take a very long time to heal. However, I also know that the church will rise again. The NE tribes have been embracing Christianity since 1910, as opposed to the state religion, which has always been a pain point for the country. They tried to snuff us out, but the church grew exponentially instead, to their bewilderment. Complicating things further is that the Meiteis who have accepted Christ through the ministry of the local churches are also caught up in this, often persecuted by their own for “deserting the faith.” Some of their churches were also burnt.
Church leaders face the enormous challenge of rebuilding in the midst of trauma and displacement.
For now, it will be important to encourage our churches to continue to pray for them earnestly.” – Church leader in the region
Lalpi shared a song he had written previously, which feels especially applicable now for the people of Manipur as they face an unstable future.
COUNT ON YOU Lalpi Guite
When I feel forsaken, when I feel forgotten
I can still count on You
When I am abandoned and I am broken
I can still count on You
You don’t break a bruised reed
Or snuff out a smoldering wick
You don’t repay my wrongs
But You clothe me in righteousness
Your mercy’s like the ocean that goes beyond my eyes can see
I worship You, Your Majesty
You’re all that I have when all else is gone
And I will count on You
You’re all that I want above any other
So I will count on You
Partner Spotlight: CBWC Foundation
The Generosity Project is Up and Running
Launched at Assembly 2023, the Generosity Project’s first initiative: a series of short, worship service-ready videos that are intended to foster healthy discussions on generosity in the CBWC family of churches.
The videos are around 3 minutes long and feature the following topics:
- Why should we give? Explores biblical reasons for giving.
- How should we give? Discusses attitudes and safeguards around giving.
- Where should we give? Navigating the huge array of possible ministries to fund.
- How much should we give? Biblical thoughts to guide generous giving.
- Giving—A transformation of the heart. Moving giving from head knowledge to deeper transformation.
We get it. It’s not easy to talk about money in the local church. For pastors and key leaders, it can seem self-serving. Abuse of donors by high profile ministries in years past has put a chill on “the money talk” for many of us. We can even try to avoid the conversation all together until budget time or a cash crisis. Simply put, healthy churches have healthy discussions about money on an ongoing basis. To help break barriers, the CBWC Foundation is committed to resourcing churches with charitable giving materials that are biblically sound and culturally appropriate.
So, pull out some popcorn and have a look. There is an explanation video for leader—maybe start there. Hopefully you will find these videos useful, even if they simply help you plan your own ideas for generating healthy money conversations.
The videos are free, just go to the CBWC Foundation Website and download. www.cbwcfoundation.ca.
The Battle of the Elizabeths!
Betty, known as “Biker Betty,” is a 74-year-old cyclist from Trinity Baptist Church, Edmonton. Over the past 27 consecutive years she has pedalled across North America four times, and raised thousands of dollars for Christian charities. This June, Betty is participating in Active in Mission (AiM) which is a fundraising challenge to Canadian Baptists to raise money for food security both locally and globally by doing something active this summer.
For one month this summer, Betty will engage in a friendly competition with her friend Elizabeth Shirt, 42, (Hillside Baptist Church, North Vancouver) for a BATTLE OF THE ELIZABETHS. They will compete to see who can cycle the most kms and raise the most money for the entire month of June.
Betty’s passion for cycling began on her 35th birthday in 1983. She had the opportunity to cycle from Jasper to Calgary with her two children as a chaperone for a group from Edmonton Christian school. They had to carry all their supplies on their bikes.
“The trip was incredibly challenging. The up-to-11% grades were crazy difficult, as our bikes were moving so slowly they were almost falling over,” Betty said. “Somehow, despite the difficulties, this trip made me fall in love with road cycling. It made me realize that, physically, I could do far more than I knew, and it made me cherish God’s creation.”
Betty continued to cycle each summer, always logging between 5,000 km and 10,000 km—which is not an easy feat in a climate where road cycling is possible for no more than six months of the year. Then, in 1997, she took part in her first Christian fundraising tour with the Canadian Bible Society. They raised funds by cycling one week through the mountains of Alberta and British Columbia.
“That year was the beginning of fifteen consecutive Bike for Bibles trips, including a cross-Canada tour to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Bible Society in Canada in 2006. This cross-Canada ride was from Victoria, BC to St. John’s, NFLD.” Betty said. “The total mileage was upwards of 7,400 km, and our daily average on this tour was 162 km (100 miles). We slept in churches, and we had superb support along the road–every 35 km, there was a sag wagon with food and drinks. All I had to do was pedal. The catch is I had to pedal all day, every day, with the exception of a handful of rest days, for nine weeks.”
In early 2013, Betty heard of a cycling tour across the USA to raise money for World Renew and Partners Worldwide, arms of the Christian Reformed Church and Reformed Churches of North America. The tour was called “Sea to Sea” and the motto was “Cycling to End Poverty.”
Betty arrived in L.A. alone, and quickly made friends with a few other Canadians of similar age. The tour went from L.A. to Toronto and Montreal, then headed back to the USA, ending in Staten Island, NY. During the last week, one of her new friends asked if she would do this kind of tour again.
“I emphatically told her ‘No,’ that I was no longer interested in the long days on the bike followed by setting up a tent, washing my cycling clothes by hand, showering in cold water, enduring all kinds of weather, and learning to live with a large number of people (some quite unique) in close proximity for nine weeks,” Betty said.
But just three weeks after the conclusion of the tour, in September 2013, her friend registered for a cross-Canada tour for the next summer and asked her to as well. She thought “Why not?” So, in 2014, she participated in the tour by Alliance Churches of Canada called ‘Love in Motion.’
At this point in Betty’s life, she had cycled across the continent three times. In 2016, she heard of another “Sea to Sea” tour from Vancouver to Halifax.
“As I mulled it over, even my two children expressed concern (there are a lot of dangers out there on our highways), and told me that maybe I should think about ‘taking it a bit more easy.’” She laughed as she said, “That did not happen, and I registered for my fourth cross-continent cycling tour. I have now cycled 37 summers and have cycled for Christian charities for 24 of those years.
“I have gone through two very difficult times in my life, and I can say without reservation that it was the cycling that quite literally ‘saved my life.’ The love of long-distance cycling tours and meeting so many people who became friends for life, have resulted in my faith being strengthened and my love of God’s creation being deepened.”
When COVID began, Betty approached her church and asked if she could ride for a ministry project. For the next three summers that is what she did, bringing her total years of cycling for Christian charities to 27.
Betty has learned much on her cycling adventures. One thing being that God doesn’t mean for us to go through life alone, and we need to learn to lean on one another in times of trouble or hardship. Another is that there is no need to be afraid of fundraising. Also, living on the simplest of supplies showed her that she does not need a lot of material things. After each tour, she went home and purged her belongings.
She also learned to have more compassion for people she might not necessarily enjoy, and to be more tolerant of people who differ from her in personality, fitness level, and organizational skills.
Another thing she took away from her time is that she is physically capable of more than she dreamed of.
“I learned that my body can do so much more than I can ever imagine–it is a 90/10 proposition– 90% in the brain and 10% in the legs.”
When asked to explain why she is so passionate about cycling for a purpose, Betty said, “When my six grandchildren were young, I hosted a one week “Cousins’ Camp” each summer. In 2006, that couldn’t happen as I was going to cycle across Canada. One of my little granddaughters was completely distraught and she cried, ‘Grandma, why are you biking across Canada?’ Her slightly older sister replied, ‘For Bibles.’ That really does sum it all up.”
If you would like to support THE BATTLE OF THE ELIZABETHs you can visit their fundraising pages here:
Special Father’s Day Recipes!
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads, father figures and male role models out there! This year to celebrate, we asked some of our CBWC Staff Dads to share their favourite recipes! Check out their recommendations and try something new this Father’s Day!
130 People Baptized in One Day!
God is so good and actively moving in our churches! Emmanuel Iranian Church recently had a significant day where they baptized a total of 130 people using Hillside Baptist Church’s facilities. They laid down tarps and towels between the baptism tank and the washrooms, and got it all done in an afternoon! We chatted with Pastor Arash of Emmanuel to learn more about this amazing event:
How did it come about that you had 130 people wanting to be baptized in one day?
A spiritual revival is happening among Iranians. On one hand, most Iranians are fed up with their inherited religion, as it is more than forty years of Islamic rule in the country—and there is no sign of peace, happiness or hope for the future. On the other hand, Iranians are the kind of people who are in need of God. We have a treasure of literature and culture that is amalgamated with the concept of spirituality. There is a void, and a search for the true God in most Iranian’s hearts. Jesus is one of the most respected personalities in our literature, and when Iranians get to know Him according to the Bible, they receive Him!
How long did it take?
Three hours and twelve weeks! We run a twelve-week baptism course in order to introduce Christianity, and when we feel the readiness in heart and mind, we offer the baptism.
How did the partnership to use Hillside Baptist church happen?
Hillside Church has always been generous to us. They let us worship in their sanctuary for a few months until we found a building to rent. Pastor Jeff (from Hillside) is the one who introduced me to the CBWC family, and we are proud to be a CBWC member for almost four years now. Pastor Nat (from Hillside) offered to help us for the recent baptism event in providing us with their place and baptismal tank.
The What and Why of the Ordination Examination Council Process
When a church calls a Pastor or Ministry Leader to ordination, it is a celebratory time for both the church and the candidate. Ordination affirms the sense of call of a particular person to Gospel Ministry. The candidate submits themselves to the discernment, evaluation, and affirmation of the greater CBWC family. It is, moreover, a recognition that it is the church that calls one to service.
The OEC (Ordination Examination Council) is an organized council of lay leaders and clergy who are mandated to examine the potential candidates.
Each candidate writes a Ministry Paper requiring particular aspects of theology and ministry philosophy, along with their personal story and sense of calling. After presenting their paper to their peers at Ordination Preparation Workshop, they submit their final papers to the council, who—on a set date—examine each candidate and hear from the churches who have requested their candidate be examined.
The process is long-remembered as a cherished process. Candidates meet and develop, often ministry-long relationships among one another. Candidates are both affirmed and challenged to continue to seek God in mind, heart, body and soul, to develop lifelong learning habits, and patterns of mutual accountability.
Recently, we chatted with Pastor Diana Ran Zhao from Joy Fellowship, who went through OEC in 2022. She shared with us why it was an important process for her, and how her church supported her along the way:
Tell us a bit about your church.
My church is called Joy Fellowship. It is a church of people of all abilities, which means it is made up of people with disabilities, their caregivers and those who love them. It is my honour to witness God’s marvelous work through our special friends.
What is your role with Joy Fellowship, and what do you love most about it?
I’m the Associate Pastor of Joy Fellowship. My role is assisting the senior pastor in supporting our people spiritually through our services, Bible studies, visitation, and other church programs.
My favourite part is visitation. I love to get to know my special friends during the other six days. I see how God strengthens them in their daily life, and blesses them through all kinds of amazing people. And of course, how they become blessings in their community.
Why was ordination important to you?
Ordination is an opportunity to reflect my calling and my theology, which developed in this special ministry.
Also, I want people to know of our ministry and special friends. God created them as a part of our community, and I want more people know their value to church.
How did CBWC help you along the way?
The process of ordination was quite a positive and encouraging experience. By reflecting on what we believe, I confirmed the value of my ministry and the congregation I’m serving. Through getting to know so many amazing people who share the same heart with us, I know I’m not alone.
How did your church support you along the way?
Joy Fellowship is quite a unique ministry. I like to summarize my journey with Joy Fellowship as ‘learn to love through being loved.’
As a newcomer to Canada, I have felt protected and loved in this community, through their spiritual and practical help, since I arrived here.
Through knowing each other’s lives and praying together, we experience God’s work. These wonderful experiences strengthen my heart to this ministry.
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Making Connections is the monthly newsletter of the CBWC.