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.”
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.