Each week Fellowship President, Steve Jones, encourages and challenges those within The Fellowship through his weekly emails.
We are pleased to be able to make these available online.
We trust you, too, will be encouraged and challenged by what Steve shares.
Several years ago I got a phone call from an Ipsos-Reid poll, asking if I might complete a short survey on the state of our nation; My opinions on Canada. I said yes.
After 20 minutes, the caller came to the last question, “What do you believe to be the greatest need in Canada today?”
I told her my answer would be something she had not heard from any of her previous (or future) callers. She told me she had heard it all.
I said, “Canada’s greatest need is a great spiritual revival.” That Canadians might turn their hearts and lives back to God through Jesus Christ.
There was silence on the other end. “Has anyone else suggested that yet?”, I asked. She admitted my suggestion was the first she had heard of this need.
The greatest need. But few are talking about it. Even less are praying about it.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY CANADA!
This week we celebrate the 150th birthday of our blessed nation. Most of us will sing our national anthem at least once this week. “O Canada” was proclaimed Canada’s national anthem on July 1, 1980, one hundred years after it was first sung on June 24, 1880. The chorus reminds us: “God keep our land glorious and free!”
However, most of us never get a chance to sing one of our anthem’s less familiar stanzas. The fourth stanza is quite moving:
“Ruler Supreme, who hears our humble prayer,
Hold our Dominion in thy loving care.
Help us to find, O God, in Thee,
A lasting rich reward.
As waiting for the better day,
We ever stand on guard.”
A PRAYER FOR CANADA
The very foundation and calling of Canada, as reflected in our anthem, is a call to reflect the glory and presence of God. May the words of our national anthem, “God keep our land”, be reflected first in the churches of our land.
Father, renew and embolden the church in Canada to take its rightful place in our nation so that our nation may take its rightful place in our world.“Father, help us your children, to be salt and light in our country. Enable your children to be examples of your grace, mercy and love.
Our nation’s greatest need is spiritual renewal.
Father, our plea is that You renew your church, chasten it, revive it again.
May your bride become a radiant influence for godliness in our blessed nation.
Bend us, break us, do whatever necessary to bring your glory to these shores.
For your Glory, and our great good.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
Have a blessed week,
P.S. Some trivia:
What is the motto of the Dominion of Canada?
The motto of the Dominion of Canada is A mari usque ad mare.
The Latin phrase has two official translations. In English it reads, “From sea to sea.” In French it reads, “D’un ocean à l’autre.”
The phrase, from Psalms 72:8: “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea and from river unto the ends of the earth,” impressed the Fathers of Confederation who adopted it for official use in 1867.
We all saw the heart-breaking news footage a few weeks back of flooding in Quebec and other regions in our country.
Our FAIR (Fellowship Aid and International Relief) department partnered with Samaritan’s Purse to help support efforts to touch the lives of Quebecers affected by the devastating floods. I encourage you to click HERE to find out more and consider making a donation.
SMARITANS PURSE and FAIR in HUDSON, QC
I was in contact with Pastor Gary Karamanoukian of our Hudson Community Baptist Church who hosted the Samaritan Purse disaster relief team. Gary, his church family, and others got busy helping the community in Rigaud. I asked Pastor Gary to share a little about their church’s experience being the “hands and feet of Jesus” in their community:
I would like to start by thanking you for your prayer, support, and concern regarding the recent floods our area has been going through. We are so grateful for how our Lord Jesus Christ has been very present during all of this. I, like many of you, know and support Samaritan’s Purse through their Christmas shoebox program, but one thing I did not know was their involvement in disaster relief. It was by God’s grace that their field officers contacted us and wanted to use HCBC as a host church for their disaster relief efforts. A few short phone conversations and a couple of meetings with their staff and then low and behold a week later, a 53-foot truck and trailer rolls onto our property to set up base. After which, 5 heavy duty pickup trucks drive in, and suddenly, we have the Samaritan’s Purse logistic team setting up base and working alongside our church to send word of hope and help to those who have been affected by the flood. We worked in recruiting volunteers from other Fellowship churches, Mennonite members, and other denomination groups to set up a work force.
God’s hand was very much present through this natural disaster. Here are a few cases:
Greg Schmidt, program manager for Samaritan’s Purse and myself made our way to Rigaud City Hall to make ourselves known. At the same time, a couple was walking out of the building. In their eyes I saw the look of complete defeat; a sight I had never seen before. Mario and Claire were the first people we made contact with as we gave them the SP flyer with the emergency number to contact. Shortly after, the mayor of Rigaud, which was one of the most affected communities, came to our church to see our set up. A few days later as I went out with a crew to work on a house, I noticed Mario and his wife walking towards me — it was their house we were assigned to. We hugged like long lost family members. They walked me through their house and showed me where the waves were crashing through the balcony door and flooding their home. My heart broke but yet the sense of camaraderie was there as they welcomed the SP volunteers as dear friends. We worked in their house for 2 days, after which we gave them a leather Bible provided by the Billy Graham Association signed by all crew members who worked on the house.
Another household I had the privilege to serve was Oliver and Sarah’s; a wonderful couple expecting their first child as Sarah was 7 months pregnant. We were assigned to gut their basement. Oliver shared how we had renewed his faith. When Peter, our crew leader, called him to first confirm our presence that afternoon Oliver had shed tears not believing his ears that help was on its way. We spent 3 days working there.
Alistair is another great testimony, who accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior through the work of the Billy Graham chaplains who partner with SP. As they visit flood victims they listen to and counsel them but also share about the love of God we can have through our Lord Jesus Christ.
I have heard and experienced many amazing testimonies from this experience. This was the first time working with Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Association and I can say it has been nothing short of amazing as we serve an amazing God. The Hudson Community Baptist Church has registered to become a Lighthouse church from now on and in case of any other disasters we have an open door and a willing heart to work alongside such an amazing organization. I encourage all Fellowship churches to consider being one as well.
We as a church also needed this experience to be vessels whom God would work through and I praise Him for it.
I would like to personally thank the Samaritan’s Purse team, the Billy Graham chaplains, our Mennonite brothers along with all the local church volunteers, and especially the Hudson Community Baptist Church who stepped forward when God called. Praise be to Jesus.
Please keep praying for Pastor Gary and our Fellowship church in Hudson, QC as they follow up on all the contacts made while serving their community.
On behalf of our entire Fellowship family, I want to thank our brothers and sisters at Hudson Community Baptist Church for their compassionate efforts as they continue to love and serve their community. A church on mission, advancing the Gospel.
Have a blessed week,
I looked up the definition for “fatherhood” in the Oxford Dictionary and discovered it was located between the two words “fathead” and “fatigue”. I wonder if the Oxford Dictionary made a Freudian slip?
I read of one father who was complaining he was tired. He blamed it on his age, blood pressure and lack of exercise. But he said he discovered it wasn’t any of these things. He was tired because he was over-worked. The way he figured it:
- The population of our country is just over 30 million.
- 7 million are retired.
- That leaves 23 million to do the work.
- There are 18 million in school and college.
- That leaves 5 million to do the work
- 2 million are unemployed and 2 million are employed by the Government.
- That leaves 1 million to do the work.
- 100,000 are in the armed forces, leaving 900,000 to do the work.
- There are 620,000 people in hospital and 279,998 in prison.
- That leaves 2 people to do the work.
You and me.
Some days I can empathize with this dad. In a “Faith at Home” study a few years ago, fathers indicated that the top three reasons they struggle to live out their faith at home were:
- Time and busyness: 24.7% of fathers indicated they were not really present when present at home
- Lack of self-discipline: 12.6% of fathers admitted doing little faith modeling at home.
- Fatigue: 11.4% of fathers said they’re exhausted and go home to hide and rest.
Dads need to be reminded of their critical role in the spiritual formation of their children. Study after study indicates the pivotal role fathers play in passing their faith on to their children.
In 1994, a Swiss survey discovered the critical factors when a person’s religion carried through to the next generation. The religious practise of the father above all other factors was identified. A LifeWay study concluded that if a child is the first person to become a Christian, there is a 3.5% probability that everyone else in the household will follow. If the mother is first, there is a 17% probability. But if a father is the first person in a household to become a Christian there is a 93% probability that everyone else in the household will follow.
Fathers are critical to their children’s spiritual formation. And what they say, the words they choose to use each day, is critical to success.
They say there are 800,000 words in the English language. The average person uses 5,000 words a day. Some wives would love to get a couple hundred words from their husband on a typical day. But that’s for another weekly blog. The fact is:
“Words kill and words give life. They’re either poison or fruit. You choose.” Prov. 18:21 (The Message)
Fathers choose every day what words they will use with their kids. It matters!
Talking to a Wayward Child
What kind of words should be used when talking to a wayward son or daughter? Listen to Job 6:14 (NIV): “A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends. Even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.”
The Bible is saying, if you have a child who is struggling spiritually, asking “Where is God?”, “Does God care?” or “Does God exist?”, what do they need in that moment? They do not need a father to turn on them because of their doubt, rebellion and lack of loyalty. The Bible says they need to hear warm and sympathetic words.
Sometimes our kids are so beaten down by life it’s too hard to look up to God.
In that moment they need a word of encouragement, even sympathy. Words are a powerful tool to draw people back. We tend to be tough on a wayward son, when Jude 1:22 (Message) says: “Go easy on those who hesitate in the faith.”
Dad, remember the Old Testament story of the tower of Babel, a building project that God stopped because of their pride. The Bible tells us, “God opposes the proud.” God stopped the project by removing their most powerful tool. Not their hammers or chisels or saws, but their words. Or more specifically their ability to understand their words.
Dads can use words to build up or tear down.
As Father’s Day approaches, let’s all be reminded once again of the power Dads have to change the course of their child’s life. Just the choice of words we choose to use makes a huge difference.
If you’ve owned a house for ten years you understand appreciation. And if you’ve owned a car for ten years you understand depreciation. Every time a dad “appreciates” his child, he adds value to him or her – we raise their value! A Christian father’s job is to help his kids recognize their supreme value in Christ.
The United Nations declared June 20 World Refugee Day and the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) is encouraging Christians and churches to mark in their calendars the two Sundays (June 18 and 25), falling on either side of World Refugee Day, as World Refugee Sundays.
These Sundays are an opportunity for local churches, small groups, and/or individuals to demonstrate their concern for the welfare and protection of the world’s displaced people.
My recent experience with Syrian refugees
In March 2017 I visited a number of ministries in Lebanon that are ministering to the over one million Syrian refugees that have poured into Lebanon due to the Syrian civil war.
In northern Lebanon we met with Pastor Michel and his team, including Anthony, Melody, Stephanie, Adna and others. Their centre is associated with six Baptist churches in the area and ministers largely to Syrian refugees and Lebanese families. Since the civil war began in neighbouring Syria, many refugees began entering northern Lebanon. Thousands came to the Centre. In 2013-2014, the centre distributed vouchers of $80 USD each month to 825 families, provided for by Lebanese Baptist Churches. With each passing year, their capacity to give has dropped. They currently care for 35 families with a voucher of $60 US each month, along with caring for other families and women through the Centre’s women's ministry. Pastor Michel explained that refugee women are invited to join a friendship group and many have done just that. How encouraging to hear the news that 650 refugee women have come to faith in Christ in recent years through this ministry.
The Centre hosts classes for refugee children and also provides medical and dental clinics, in addition to offering ESL classes. We visited two classes during our visit: one teaching Arabic writing skills, and the other French. Pastor Michel hopes the Centre will soon become a church-plant of the Baptist churches in the area.
We were accompanied by two members of the Centre’s team, Anthony and Melody, as we visited five Syrian refugee families in the immediate area. One family escaped Syria four years ago and now the mother, three sons and a daughter are all living in a small cement block enclosure, farming their small patch of land to make $300 a year selling vegetables. Another family lives in a small cement block building – a husband, his wife and five children – rent-free because they care for the flocks and land of the landowner. We visited three other families living in a triplex strip mall with loads of very young children. The wives of these three families had their papers submitted with the U.N. authorities with hope of sponsorship to France. With each home we visited, a box of food stuffs was presented, the Gospel was shared, and we prayed for the family.
Refugee Highway Partnership Resources
The World Evangelical Alliance and the Refugee Highway Partnership have developed a number of resources for churches to promote and observe World Refugee Day (June 20). Go to Refugee Highway’s website for posters, an excellent video and other resources.
Steve here… Each year I am privileged to attend each of our five Fellowship Regional Conferences. I have attended four with one more to go in “la belle province”. I plan to send a brief report on our Regional conferences later in June… stay tuned!
I want to share a story I heard while enjoying our Prairies Regional Conference. This is a tight-knit group of churches where many of the leaders know one another. Time is taken to share ministry stories of effectiveness and blessing. One such story particularly touches my heart. A church, resuscitated from near death just four years ago, is now making a big impact in Mormon country. I asked Pastor Al Litchfield of our Raymond Baptist Church to share it with you in his own words:
Pictured above: Regional Director Mark Breitkreuz (left), Pastor Al (right)
God is At Work in Raymond, Alberta
Raymond Alberta is a community of around 4,000 folks about 30 minutes southeast from Lethbridge. We are situated in an area that is known as The Mormon Trail. This region was settled by Mormons and continues to be the home of a great number of adherents to that denomination.
Just over four years ago, Raymond Baptist Church called me to pastor the church here. At the time, attendance had declined to the point that they were ready to close the doors. Since then, God has blessed us as we have grown to around 60 in worship each week.
About two years ago, we were led of God to build an addition on our church as our children (about eight at the time) were meeting in the foyer of our building. With the assistance of Fellowship Prairies Foundation and Baptist Builders, we now have an additional three classrooms. We are currently ministering to about 25-35 children each week.
Over the past several years, we have witnessed an increased interest and involvement by our Mormon neighbours. Our Ladies Fellowship, which meets about once a quarter, has seen attendance grow steadily to around 50 to 60, including a number of whom would call themselves Mormons. Our Vacation Bible School has grown from 25 three years ago to over 80 last year. Many of these children are from Mormon families. Our Christmas Shoebox campaign last year packed over 1,000 boxes. Again, we experienced a number from the Mormon community working alongside us through contributions and in packing boxes.
At a recent community think-tank meeting which was discussing the strengths of Raymond, one of the members, who is a strong Mormon, stated that one of the strengths of our community was Raymond Baptist Church for our involvement and contribution to the well-being of our town.
I say all that not to boast about us, but to share that God is at work in reaching out to the Mormon community here in our area. Over the last several years, and as a result of our information age, there has been an increasing confusion and uncertainty among many who were raised as Mormons. Much of what they had been taught is being questioned. In their struggles, many are turning to God’s Word.
I strongly believe over the next number of years there will be a spiritual awakening take place in the Mormon denomination similar to what took place in the World-Wide Church of God a number of years ago. It is also my belief that God has placed Raymond Baptist Church here on purpose to be able to minister to those seeking the truths of God’s Word as well as a place where they can grow in their walk with our Lord.
Please consider adding Raymond Baptist Church to your prayer lists. We covet the prayers of God’s people as we make ourselves available to those God is drawing to Himself. The task before us is great but not impossible with our God. He has granted us a wonderful opportunity and an awesome responsibility. Pray that we will be found faithful.
Let’s commit together to be praying for Pastor Al, the church family, and the many people they are seeking to impact for Christ.