Bethel's ministries are having a significant evangelistic impact. Here are just some of the great things that have been happening:
· There are at least two (and possibly three) children from the community enrolled in the Willow Wood Preschool whose families do not attend any church. Each day they learn more about God’s love for them expressed in the Bible.
· Numerous children from the community take part in Bethel’s Gems and Cadet Programs.
· Two Muslim children who started attending the Kids’ Club some years back took a step toward further involvement with Bethel. They now both attend the Dove Taekwondo program and Gems/Cadets.
· One of the Gem’s girls from the community has started coming to church with her Bethel friend.
· A woman facing serious health issues has begun coming to Oasis and is rediscovering her long lost faith.
· A second, unchurched woman attends Oasis with her son. Mother seems to be warming to spiritual things. Both mother and son are loving the program.
· One woman from the Taekwondo Program took in an Alpha video series (introduction to the Christian faith) after experiencing the love of the Taekwondo leaders.
· A Bosnian woman came to the Family Day pancake breakfast and has been attending the monthly Wednesday supper and video evenings offered by the young adults. She has entered into significant spiritual discussions, as a result.
· There are several English as a Second Language (ESL) students from Bannerman, who joined the program because of the goodwill and friendship of Bethel Church.
· New to Canada, a young Ukrainian mom began attending ESL in November. To help their son learn English, they registered him in the Willow wood Preschool.
· Three or more of the ESL students join the program’s leaders, Fred and Grace Tomek, for a monthly Bible discussion.
It is clear that the Holy Spirit is at work in Bethel to further the Gospel. Let’s pray for these
ministries and continue to use the opportunities God gives us to spread the Good News!
7 years ago I had never even heard of the Christian Reformed Church. My early faith was nurtured at a very large Pentecostal Church in southeast Edmonton. After graduating college, I was eager to begin a life of church ministry, preferably somewhere in the city. I found Bethel on an ad online. I remember sneaking into the back of a service, sitting in the back pew, thinking that I should apply and see what happens. For Jessica and I, we are thankful that I did!
One of the early formative moments for us at Bethel was discovering Our World Belongs to God, a contemporary testimony of the Christian faith put out by the CRC. It poetically and powerfully speaks of our Mighty God who is King of Creation and holds the World in His hands.
This is one of my favourite passages:
as history unfolds
in ways we know only in part,
we are assured
that God is with us in our world,
holding all things in tender embrace
and bending them to his purpose.
The confidence that the Lord is faithful
gives meaning to our days
and hope to our years.
The future is secure,
for our world belongs to God.
#12 from Our World Belongs to God
Are you uncertain about the future or burdened by your past? Remember that all things are in God’s hands. We can find real comfort in the sovereignty of God.
During this season we remember our God who holds “all things in tender embrace and [bends] them to his purpose.”
Blessings this Lent,
John Lendein has done Bethel proud. He has been chosen to be one of the six ethnic advisers to our denomination’s annual meeting this year. This annual meeting, called Synod, is made up of representatives from the regions cross Canada and the United States.
In 1995 our denomination first adopted the policy of having ethnic advisors at Synod. Since one of the Christian Reformed Church’s goals is to be a denomination that welcomes people from all ethnicities, and since the number of non-Caucasian members of the denomination is still relatively low, the denomination adopted the policy of having ethnic advisors to offset the imbalance and give ethnic minorities their proper voice.
John was approached by our Church’s Managing Elders to see if he would be willing to play this role at Synod. When he said “yes,” we recommended him to the selection team. Just last week he received word that he was one of the six people chosen.
Synod will convene at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, June 12, on the campus of Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, and conclude Thursday, June 18 at noon. Travel and accommodations for all delegates is paid for by the denomination.
John has a very responsible role to fill as an ethnic advisor. We know he will bring honor to the Lord, and be a wonderful representative of Bethel Church.
I recently flew to Chicago to attend my mother’s funeral. During the ceremony my brother shared a story I had never heard before. It impressed me as an example of how the Spirit of God can use each of us in surprising ways during ordinary moments to pass on a legacy of faith.
The story goes like this: As a young boy, my brother Jim went out to play with his friends. He found them together and discovered that there was a new boy with them whom they were now evidently regarding as their leader. When my latecomer-brother joined the group, he became the object of this new boy’s mean-spiritedness. The young man passed out a candy to each of the other boys except my brother. Then he announced, “I want to play with all of you—except for that boy (pointing to my brother).”
Jim expected his friends to rally to his defense, but the new boy had them in his thrall, and no one made a move to help. He returned home dejected and weeping.
He shared the story with my mother who listened patiently. After processing the event with him, she took out a bag of candy and said, “Jim, I want you to go out there and give one of these candies to each of those boys.” Instantly a picture sprang to my brother’s mind of how he would get his revenge by giving candies to all of his friends, but not to the new boy. Then my mother added, “And Jim, Jesus says we should turn the other cheek. I want you to give a candy to the boy who hurt you.”
Reluctantly, Jim returned to the group to hand out the treats. He went around the circle placing a candy in the hand of each boy, and when he came to the gang leader, he placed a candy in his hand too. The boy was visibly surprised, and a bit shaken, by the gesture. He mumbled a few unintelligible words, then turned and walked home. He was never seen in the neighbourhood again.
What happened to that boy, and how this act of forgiveness might have impacted his life, we do not know. We do know, however, that in an ordinary day’s activities a woman took the time to show love to someone and to respond to him as she thought Jesus would. As a result of her faithfulness, she shaped a life and impacted others through that life. Her story is still being told 50 years later.
Each of us has the potential to do what my mother did. Who knows when God might use you in an ordinary moment to impact a life and change the world in some small but significant way. It may—and probably will—happen when you do not even realize how God plans to use you. Let’s stay open to the Spirit moment by moment.
– Pastor Tom
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