If you were at our last congregational meeting, you will remember that I introduced a woman from our congregation who is a true hero of faith: Hawa Lendein. Let me remind you of some of what I shared then so that I can tell you about the truly amazing developments in this ongoing story.
Hawa became a Christian in Bettesu Village, Liberia, where she lived with her husband. She was the first convert to Christianity there and was outspoken in her faith. As a result, she was jailed by the village elders for several months, and later she and her husband were brutally beaten by a mob that broke into their home at night. (Her son John, also a Bethel member, then only three years old, hid under the bed during this ordeal). When civil war broke out in Liberia, Hawa’s husband was killed in a “random” act of violence that may have, in fact, been revenge for his boldness in sharing his faith.
At our congregational meeting John Lendein shared that he was committed to blessing the village that had mistreated his parents. A few years ago he funded repairs to the church building his mother and father had built when they lived in the village. He announced that he is now committed to building a school for the children in Bettesu village so they will not have to walk two hours on dangerous roads each day to get to their education. I informed the congregation that John welcomed donations toward the project, but any gift toward the project would be a truly sacrificial gift, because no charitable tax receipts could be issued.
So that is the recap, now let me tell you the latest news in this exciting story. Donations from Bethel members have come in steadily. The declining value of the Canadian dollar has taken a bite out of the spending power of these gifts, but John estimates that with another $15,000, it will be possible to complete construction and furnish the school so that it will be student-ready. The building’s foundation has been built and already the side walls have been erected. (You can see pictures of the building’s progress at http://www.discoverbethel.com/bettesu-village.html.)
But that is not the end of the story or even the best news. The real news is that this project has profoundly affected the people of the village. They have been overwhelmed by the forgiveness extended by the Lendein family in return for the ill-treatment they received. Because of the Lindein’s forgiveness and the generosity shown in building the school (made possible in large part through the support of the Bethel community) it has caused the village people to feel deep shame for their former behavior. They have repeatedly, by phone, asked that Hawa forgive them. While she has sincerely done so, they are still hopeful she can one day come to the village to hear their apology in person.
God’s Spirit is moving powerfully in the world, and He is using Bethel members. We pray that this “miracle in the making” will result in deep praise to God with many coming to receive the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. You may still help in this project. If you feel so led, please contact John directly.–Pastor Tom
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
-Genesis 2:24, ESV
It's everywhere in our culture.
Turn on the TV, open up your web browser, look at the New York Time's best sellers – it's there. What was intended for holiness and joy has far too often been supplanted by a cheap knock-off.
God is the Creator of sex. He doesn't make mistakes. He made Sex as a gift to mankind. A gift that, when opened in the right context, gives beauty and life to its beholders.
Marriage is that right context. It is a sacred relationship that reveals to all the mysterious union of Christ and His Church (Eph. 5:33). The gift is opened and it is good.
But not everyone wants what is good and right. satan is the counterfeiter. Not capable of true creation - he can only twist and masquerade. Far too often we fall for his bait and switch illusions – promising life but leading to death.
For the next two weeks at Bethel we are going to discuss sex. After all, the Bible is filled with stories of sexual brokenness and redemption.
We hope you'll join us as we ask the question “How can we live Biblically and thrive in a culture as broken as ours?”
Last week I talked about the how Ryan and I are partners in ministry—a “dynamic duo” minus the crazy costumes. What does our partnership actually look like? Who does what? Let’s start with Ryan’s role.
A big part of Ryan’s time (50%) is spent with the younger members of our church. He oversees Melanie Reynders’ work with teens and he gives leadership and pastoral care to young adults. The other 50% of Ryan’s time is spent preaching (on average once per month) and in giving leadership in two areas of Bethel’s mission: Bannerman and the World.
Let me explain that last bit a little more. As a church we have three mission emphases. They are: Our neighbourhood (Bannerman) our region (where each of us lives, works, studies, and plays), and the world. In this breakdown Ryan gives primary leadership to the Bannerman ministries--he supports all our Bannerman ministry leaders and sits on the Bannerman Community League. He also gives leadership in our ministry to the world. This involves chairing the World Missions Team and gives strategic leadership in mission planning.
What is my role? I am responsible for vision development and vision casting, meeting with the church’s leadership, preaching most sermons, supervising the staff, and giving pastoral care to the older adults. With respect to our mission I am responsible for the second area: where we live, work, study, and play. In this capacity I lead the Small Groups Support Team, encourage regional connection (I initiated last summer’s neighbourhood barbeques, for example) and strategize for growth through programs like Alpha.
Doing all this pastoral work is a big challenge for us, and we have to do it all without superpowers or even a bat mobile. But God s been faithful, and we have found it an exciting journey so far.—Pastor Tom
History and folklore are full of famous pairs: Sherlock and Watson, Bill and Ted, Batman and Robin—the list is endless. I like to think of Ryan and myself as a famous pair. We are not solving crimes or saving the world from cosmic destruction, but we are partners in pastoring the church, and we are having a lot of fun doing it.
Our work style is pretty fluid. We have official meetings scheduled for every two weeks, but the truth is that we have usually talked about everything on our agenda before the meeting arrives. This is because we are always walking back and forth to one another’s offices to talk about ministry plans and strategies or we are doing so in the foyer of the new wing or in a Subway Restaurant over lunch. If I bring age and experience to the team, Ryan brings creative ideas and enthusiasm.
We also have fun. Besides the normal kidding around that goes on among all the staff, Ryan and I will occasionally take a lunch hour to play an epic game of ping pong in the church’s youth room.
So how do we divide the pastoral task? Who is responsible for what in this dynamic duo? That is what I will talk about in next week’s Pastor’s Corner—Pastor Tom
Over the next months we hope to add a new member to our staff team—a half-time Director of Worship Ministries. This person will fill a position that has been vacant for nine months now. Let me bring you up to date with our search for this person.
Sometime ago, a team representing the staff, the Managing Elders, and the Music Team, met to review and update the job description for the Director of Worship Ministries. Now we are inviting applications for the position. Notices have been sent out to many different Christian Universities and Bible colleges. The position is being posted on various ministry websites, and we hope to generate some word-of-mouth advertising by contacting worship directors from other churches and asking them to spread the news. People are being referred to our own website where they can find a full description of the position.
The excellent work of our praise bands during the time when we have not had a Director of Worship Ministries could almost lead us to think we do not need a new person to fill this role. However, this would be a wrong conclusion to draw. Mark Dubbeldam, Lisa Cloutier, and Susan Horsman, have given marvelous leadership to our music ministry, but it has also required a level of sacrifice on their part that would not be sustainable in the long run. The various bands have worked selflessly, but they do so without the benefit of someone with sufficient time to give hands-on coordination and mentoring. The music ministry at Bethel plays too important a role in the life of our church to put it at risk, so hiring a new Director of Worship Ministries is vitally important.
Please pray that God will lead our search team to find the right person for the role. If you have someone you think might be a good fit for Bethel, please refer them to the church’s Website for a ministry description or contact a member of the search team (Mark, Lisa, Susan, Randall Huisman, or myself). –Pastor Tom
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