Your leaders just finished a day-long gathering that started this past Friday evening and finished Saturday afternoon. The gathering included elders, deacons, staff, and a number of ministry leaders from the congregation. Why did they get together? Because they care about you and what God is doing at Bethel Church. Each year these leaders give a day to pray and plan and learn and to get to know one another better so they can lead better.
This year’s retreat focused on the amazing things that God can do when a church allows Him to be boss. Sometimes we get the cart before the horse and try to do God’s work for Him; however, the Biblical pattern is to find out where God is working and join Him! When we are the servants, and not the masters, God will do amazing and startling things. He has already done some pretty amazing things at Bethel, and I am sure He has much, much more in store!
At the retreat the leaders did some fun things together. They also spent time in personal meditation, in small group discussions, and in prayer for one another. It was enjoyable and productive.
Before I went on the retreat someone said, “I was praying and asking God what His will for Bethel Church is. A word instantly came to my mind. It was the word ‘unity.’” Coming away from this retreat, I think that word describes perfectly what happened on this retreat. There was a gentleness about it - a sense of being one with each other and one in God’s work.
Bethel is truly becoming a place of prayer. Listen to this story from one of our Lighthouse teachers:
I wish you could have seen it. As a grade 2 class we spent our first five minutes identifying prayer requests--from birthdays, to anticipated surgeries, to new homes being built. We shared so much we ran out of time to pray before our story time had arrived. We listened to the story of King Josiah and were reminded of Israel’s being awakened to a renewed faith in God. When we came back, we added to our prayer list—not typical grade 2 things. The children talked about fellow classmates who had passed away in car accidents and who died from cancer. I just listened and thanked God for awakening in them the freedom and desire to share and pray. We prayed through a very long list of concerns and praises.
I am not so sure that I am teaching them. I am pretty sure they are teaching me. Thanks God for the gift of time and prayer and conversations. Lighthouse is alive and well and a part of the mission of this church.
Yes, thank you, God, for the way you are stirring in the hearts of Lighthouse children and their teachers!
-- Pastor Tom
Before our Lord Jesus ascended into heaven, He gathered His disciples and told them to “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:18-20). As a community, Bethel has committed to obeying Jesus’ command in Bannerman, our own neighbourhoods, and to the ends of the earth.
One part of “A Dream for Bethel” is that in 10 years there will be a “widespread commitment to world mission in our church” and that we “will have an area or two where we have an established partnership that includes trips by groups of Bethel members to the mission site, reciprocal visits and/or communication from the people on the field, and frequent reports and contact.”
I am happy to say we are well on our way to achieving this dream. A couple of positive signs point to this:
First: From December 31 to January 8th our youth went for the fifth straight year to visit Pastor Arturo Aguirre’s church in Hermosillo, Mexico. During their time there they visited the aboriginal Seri people and gave clothing, spent time in prayer at a hospital, painted the church, and ran children’s and evangelism programs. One highlight was Bethany Snaterse sharing her testimony through a drama. Since the relationship began with Hermosillo, it has blossomed and grown. Bethel Youth now supports Pastor Arturo monthly. You can look forward to hearing more about this soon.
Second: The World Missions Team has undergone a process of discernment for the last year. They have asked questions like “Where have we been?” and “Where is God leading us in the future?” While continuing to keep up relationships in Nicaragua, Bethel now also supports Missionaries in El Salvador’s Seeds of New Creation Center. World Missions giving has grown. Shelly Billiald is leading a team of Bethelites to El Salvador and Nicaragua in the Spring to further the discernment process for future partnerships and trips. God is certainly up to something great! If you are interested in being part of Bethel’s World Missions conversation, please do not hesitate to contact the World Missions team.
It is in prayer that we find our place in life and this world. In prayer we see the hand of God making all things new. As a community we must continue to cover in prayer all the elements of “A Dream for Bethel.” Have a blessed week.
It is our dream at Bethel that over the next years we will see God drawing to Himself and enfolding into our community people from a great variety of different cultures and nationalities. There is no more powerful witness to the Gospel than people who have been knitted together by Christ’s love into a multicultural tapestry.
This week our dream took a small, but significant, step forward. I met for an evening with a group of men and woman representing six different nationalities. We discussed how Bethel might become a church that truly extends a hand of welcome to people of all cultures.
I heard many things that were both moving and hopeful at this meeting. No one who attended is a stranger to being treated poorly in society (and sometimes, sadly, in churches) because of the colour of their skin. However, none of the participants at the meeting dwelled on this. Rather, they spoke with appreciation about how they discovered Bethel, about Bethel’s good intentions, and about the warm and welcoming people they have met here.
By sharing the things that help them feel welcome at church, and the things that unintentionally cause them to feel unwelcome, we were able to discern some of the first steps involved in becoming a church for all nations.
The meeting really was a small beginning, but I believe that it was small in the way a seed is small. While tiny, it has the promise of surprising and beautiful things to come.
— Pastor Tom
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