Blog

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.


Archived Posts

Meet the Samras – one Syrian Refugee family resettling in Ottawa because of Refugee Sponsorship by C
posted March 20, 2017

Steve here… We’re still hearing news about Syrian refugees being established in Canada and our Fellowship is playing a part. To date our Fellowship has raised $130,500 toward helping Syrian refugees in refugee camps in the Middle East with our partner, Operation Mobilization (OM). There are currently 56 churches in various stages of sponsoring or helping Syrian refugee families.

Michil and Gimma Samra were born and raised in Syria and lived in Aleppo with their sons, Subhy, David and Mark. Michil and Gimma came to Christ years ago and were active members of the Aleppo Alliance Church serving in the Sunday school, children’s camps and leading Bible studies.

With the rising conflict in their homeland, they fled in 2012 and settled in Beirut, Lebanon, a country where currently a third of the residents are refugees. Michel writes of their experiences in Aleppo:

“We faced death many times, but God has saved us. Many rockets and bombs were so close to us, but God was providing His protection.”

Steve's Emails - Samras Steve's Emails - Aleppo

Once in Lebanon they experienced persecution because they were Syrian Christians. In 2015 they fled to Turkey where a Christian ministry provided them an apartment. However, they had no government protection and no money and returning to Syria would mean arrest and death.

In the summer of 2016 the difficult decision was made for the Samras’ sons to flee to Germany. They found asylum and are assisting churches as they seek to help refugees. In November 2016, Michil and Gimma, knowing very little English, arrived in Canada. Pastor Matt told me

“They are undertaking the difficult challenge of adapting and adjusting to life in Canada with smiles on their faces and incredible, gracious attitudes. We are praying that we can find a way to reunite their sons with them sometime in the future.”

Would you join me in prayer for our Christian friends in finding favour with the authorities? Pray that Subhy, David and Mark would be able to come to Canada soon. May this dear family remind us all to find ways to comfort the stranger, the oppressed, and the persecuted.

Another Fellowship Church in Thamesford, ON has sought to reach out to refugees. Church planter Shawn Robinson recently Fellowship International Director Dave Marttunen and Fellowship International missionary Bechara Karkafi on a trip to Lebanon. Pastor Shawn saw firsthand the incredible need of the refugees. Once home, he and his congregation hosted an Arabic refugee dinner with families from Ingersoll, Tillsonburg and London in attendance. This young church loved their new neighbours with Pastor Shawn following up with these refugee families.

Steve's Emails - Arabic Refugees Dinner International personnel - Karkafi
Truth Community Church, Thamesford, ON    Bechara and Roula Karkafi

I was overjoyed to further learn of the commitment of this young church to reach Arabic-speaking people for Christ through their committed support of Bechara and Roula Karkafi, Fellowship International missionaries to Lebanon and the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa).

It was a huge encouragement for me to see a young church get involved in global missions through our Fellowship. God is so good. Please pray for the Karkafis as they continue to build their partnership team.

You can find out more about the Karkafis or donate by clicking HERE.

A Word from Steve: Great news on Church Planting in Canada
posted March 13, 2017

Steve here… A few months back I attended Church Planting Canada’s “Catalyst Conference”, which is a gathering of church planting catalysts from almost every evangelical denomination and ministry seeking to plant churches within Canada. I mostly listened and we also shared about the Fellowship’s current church planting efforts.

The one thing I heard over and over again was the admission that each ministry or denomination did not have their church planting act totally together yet, but almost everyone declared they were doing far better than 10-15 years ago.

From what I heard, I would agree. Currently our Fellowship Regions — working in concert with our local churches — are shepherding close to 50 church plants. We give God the glory!

Church Planting NEWS from our Regions

I recently sat down with our Regional Church Planting Directors from each of our five Fellowship Regions. We gather four times a year to encourage the sharing of resources, best practices, communication, and to plan shared initiatives. We spent a lot of time just sharing what is happening in each of our Regions concerning church planting. Again, I was encouraged by what I heard and thought I would share a few highlights.

Steve's Emails - Church Planting
Steve's Emails - Todd Chapman Todd Chapman is the Regional staff member in our Fellowship Pacific Region who cares for church planting. He spoke of West Village Church near Victoria, BC; a church planted around six years ago. They planted their first satellite church recently. Pray for Pastors Chris and Robin as they steward these two young churches. The Pacific Region also shared about their aggressive, faith-filled vision for planting new churches over the next several years.


Mark Breitkreuz
, our Fellowship Prairies Regional Director does double-duty caring for church planting among our Prairie province churches. He mentioned the recent interest in planting ethnic churches in Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatoon, focusing on Filipino and Arabic communities. There will also be a replant of Westbourne Baptist in Calgary this fall 2017.

Steve's Emails - Mark Breitkreuz
Steve's Emails - Tom Haines Tom Haines serves as FEB Central’s Church Planting Director. He shared encouraging news of eight plants this past year and likely 10 more plants in the upcoming year. Tom spoke of 22 potential church plants in the “incubator” stage. Examples were a healthy church plant in Picton, several Arabic-speaking church plants, a Filipino church in Kingsville and a “biker” church in London. Big things are happening among our churches in Ontario.
Terry Cuthbert shared that his Church Planting Director’s role in our AÉBÉQ (Québec) Region recently passed to Pastor Jean-Pierre Gagné after a couple years of succession in planning. Terry now serves as Jean-Pierre’s Associate Director. Our Québec Region is currently working with 14 French-speaking church plants and two English-speaking plants. Three missionary couples from Canada, USA and Colombia (there are 3,100 Colombians living in Granby, QC) are on their way to Québec to help in their church planting efforts. In a recent leadership training seminar, 240 participants attended, indicating an interest in being trained for greater leadership responsibility. The hope is some potential church planters and/or launch team members are among this group of believers. Steve's Emails - Terry Cuthbert
Steve's Emails - Brad Somers Pastor Brad Somers is a church planter in Halifax, NS and he also serves as Fellowship Atlantic’s Church Planting Director. Our Atlantic Region is our smallest region with 16 churches, but they are definitely “punching above their weight” with three current church plants in progress. One plant in Parsboro, NS began in November 2015, and in their first nine months have baptized 16 new believers. God is so good. Please join me in praying for a church to be planted in Newfoundland — the only province where no Fellowship Baptist Church exists.

This is only a brief snapshot of what is happening in our Regions. I hope it has encouraged you as it has me. My prayer continues to be that healthy Fellowship churches multiply themselves through the planting of churches. We have a rich heritage of planting churches. It’s in our DNA. Our Regional Church Planting Directors would love to support you in your efforts to launch out in 2017.

Have a blessed week,

Steve

Brutal violence and genocide in D. R. Congo: Please pray for our missionaries
posted March 06, 2017

Steve here… I recently spoke with Fellowship Aid and International Relief (FAIR) Director, Dan Shurr, who eagerly shared about a new mini-appeal project featuring Fellowship missionaries Apollo and Lois Midigo in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Steve's Emails - New Beginnings mini appealThis is what Dan had to say:

“The New Beginnings mini-appeal is seeking to raise funds to support the Midigos’ ministry in Goma, DRC. The focus of this ministry is to provide vocational training, small business resources, counselling and support to victims of sexual violence currently living in the city.”

To learn more, you can visit our website (click HERE).

I watched a video from the DRC this past week that deeply disturbed me. Apollo Midigo was recently sent the video from a colleague. I warn you ahead of time that what Apollo and I share is disturbing.

Apollo and Lois Midigo serve with our Baptist church partners in Goma (DRC). Goma is a large city on the East end of DRC. Less than 70 km away lie the front lines of the three decades-long civil war. Atrocities have been documented including rape, murder, torture, brutality and tribal genocide. Apollo’s pastor friend was stopped at a rebel roadblock and ordered to pay $2 US, or be killed. A life is worth $2 in DRC!

International personnel - Midigo AL

I was not able to watch the entire brutal video and will not describe the horrific scenes which unfolded. I will say, however, it was reminiscent of Nazi executioners shooting Jewish people in the 1940s. You get the picture.

The video and reality of the situation left one speechless. Senseless violence and murder. Demonic strongholds abound in the DRC.

This atrocity occurred just a mile from the city of Goma where the Midigos live and serve. I visited the DRC a couple years back and met with International Aide workers seeking to help women who were victims of sexual violence by rebels as a means to instill fear and domination in the region. Unspeakable evil. This is a completely broken country in desperate need of the Gospel.

International personnel - Flemming

We have two Fellowship International missionary couples serving in the DRC: Apollo and Lois Midigo in Goma and Richard and Brenda Flemming in Kinshasa. They serve the CBCO Baptist churches in mission mobilization, church planting, leadership development, coaching, relief work and counseling those brutalized by the violence. Apollo is a certified counsellor.

Our International Director Dave Marttunen asked Apollo, “what could we do?” He immediately said we need to pray. We should never underestimate prayer, for we battle spiritual forces in DRC.

A Message from Apollo

I asked Apollo to write and share about the current situation in D.R. Congo and how we can pray:

“Since we moved from Kinshasa to Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, on April 14th, 2014, we have been hearing stories of killings and massacres. After we arrived in Goma, we heard that on August 8, 2014, over 2,000 people were kidnapped in Beni – just 150 kilometres from Goma – thousands more were displaced. There are many players in atrocities like these such as the group called Mai-Mai (Water-Water) Rebels, ethnic militias, ethnic militant groups and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (AFDL). Massacres like these are revenge and retaliation for tribal and rebel militia attacks or military operations in their areas. Because of the blatant lack of security and the inability of the Congolese Government to keep the population safe, people are living in abject fear. There are mass protests which can become violent.

In this climate of insecurity, the innocent and the weak are the ones who suffer the most — mainly women and children.  Women are attacked in front of their husbands, parents, siblings and children. If they survive, their husbands and parents abandon them because rape is a curse to the family.  They end up in cities like Goma where they become prostitutes. Some become pregnant as a result of rape and if they keep the baby these children are a constant reminder.  Those who survive live with mental, emotional, physical and spiritual scars.  One woman said to me, “Where was your God when I was being raped, I was praying to Him but He never rescued me or my family.”

Unfortunately, the international community has looked away from this unending war in DRC.  Local people are slaughtered like sheep while the international community looks on.  But the church can do something. Last year Pope Francis chided the United Nations for the shameful silence of international community on massacres in Eastern DRC. We, as believers must become advocates for relief and justice for the people of this country. We must be constantly praying to God for change:

  • For healing in the country and that Christians will stand together and pray for God to heal the country.
  • That the Holy Spirit will intercede for people when they don’t know how to pray in difficult situations (e.g. how do you pray when you see massacre after massacre? Roman 8:26; 2 Chronicles 7:14; Ezekiel 22:30)
  • That God will become real to Congolese leaders and that we will see commitment and obedience to Jesus Christ. (Psalm 33:12; Matthew 6:33)
  • For stability in the DRC. (Isaiah 33:6; Daniel 2:21)
  • That God will root out evil in this country. (Ephesians 6:12; Zephaniah 3:1; Psalm 145:18)
  • That God will change the hearts of politicians. (Proverbs 21:1; Psalm 2:10-11; Proverbs 11:14; Job 12:23-25)

WARNING!

Content not suitable for all audiences

To watch the video from Apollo, click HERE

What Can You Do?

Pray for the Midigos and Flemmings

The DRC has recently experienced some further political unrest with the current President seeking to extend his mandate. The unrest has delayed the return of the Midigos and Flemmings back to the DRC. This unrest delayed the return of the Midigos and Flemmings to the DRC by a couple weeks.

Help Alleviate Suffering through FAIR in DRC

FAIR Catalogue images - FAIR Catalogue

The New Beginnings mini-appeal is a great way to support the Midigos’ ministry as they minister to victims of sexual violence in Goma (DRC). To learn more or to donate, click HERE.

You can also visit the Fellowship website to learn about projects run by the Flemmings in Kinshasa that are featured in our FAIR Catalogue (click HERE).

Would you join me in praying for our missionaries as they continue their Gospel work of reconciliation? Thank you.

Meet Puja from Kolkata, India
posted February 27, 2017

Steve here… I visited Kolkata, India and was overwhelmed by the abject poverty I saw. There were thousands of people living on the streets. Each evening, the poor erect tarps or blankets beside shops and stores. This temporary home gives them a place to sleep on the sidewalk, but every morning, they are taken down and quietly stored so the crowds and congested traffic can move freely.

I slipped under one of these temporary tents with our missionaries one evening to visit with three teenage girls who lived with their Aunt. Puja and her sisters attended Carey Baptist Church and were involved in the after-school educational program, a safe place to get help and tutoring with their school work. Puja and her sisters were beautiful young Christians.

I was incredibly moved by what I witnessed and grateful for the compassionate work our missionaries Jack and Lorraine Chen were doing with their church family; moving among the poor and marginalized of Kolkata.

Our FAIR Director, Dan Shurr went to visit them in India and witnessed the same poverty and need. A FAIR appeal followed and many of our churches and FAIR donors gave generously.

Recently, I asked Lorraine Chen to write a brief report on what has been happening in support of this relief initiative in Kolkata.

I was overjoyed to hear that Puja is getting a college education due to gifts from our donors. Thank you for giving.

LAUNCHING KHRIS (Kolkata Hope Rising In The Slums)

 Visits by Steve Jones in 2013 and Dan Shurr in January 2016 led to the launch of the FAIR project KHRIS. This is a project that has as its goal the sponsoring of slum kids to finish high school and then college, thus preparing them to land good jobs that will lift them off the streets and into decent homes.

Steve's Emails - Dan at slum home Steve's Emails - Lorraine with Puja
Dan Shurr visiting a typical slum “home” just off
the sidewalk in Kolkata.
Lorraine Chen with Puja, now in college.

Please remember to give a FAIR share when you hear of a FAIR appeal. Real people are being helped. Our current FAIR appeal is a justice project seeking to support the recovery of children rescued from the cybersex trafficking industry in the Philippines. For more details and an opportunity to donate, click HERE. God bless you as you give.

 Have a blessed week,

 Steve

Global Mission Stats from 33 AD to 2025 AD
posted February 21, 2017

Steve here… Ever wonder how many people throughout the world have committed themselves to Christ’s mission to evangelize the world? How many missionaries have been sent? What are today’s global resources for world evangelism?

 I came across this information from the “World Christian Trends” work done by the William Carey Library and researchers David Barrett and Todd Johnson. I thought you might be interested:

 

YEAR

Classification of Christian

33 AD

1000 AD

2025 AD

Nominal Christians

0

40 million

1.7 billion

Active Christians

10,000

5 million

880 million

Pastoral workers

200

88,000

5 million

Home missionaries

100

17,000

1.2 million

Cross-cultural missionaries

100

900

300,000

Missionaries serving in the “Christian” world

0

1,100

300,000

Missionaries serving in evangelized “Non-Christian” world

0

400

200,000

Missionaries serving in the “Un-evangelized” world

0

300

50,000

 Global Resources to complete the Great Commission

When it comes to resources to fulfill the Great Commission (evangelize and disciple) Christian resources do abound. This is a list produced from data collected in the early 2000s:

-         1.88 billion professing Christians

-         565 million professing Christians under 15 years of age

-         648 million practicing Christians

-         600 million weekly-worshipping Christians

-         3.45 million worship centres (local churches)

-         33,800 distinct denominations

-         4,000 foreign mission boards or societies

-         5,800 home-mission boards or societies

-         23,000 para-church agencies

-         400 medical mission agencies

-         5,500 Christian hospitals

-         30,000 Christian medical centres

-         170,000 elementary Christian Schools

-         50,000 Christian high schools

-         1,500 Christian universities

-         4,800 seminaries or theological colleges à 1.1 million seminary students

-         1.1 million ordained clergy (8% are women)

-         5.52 million full-time Christian workers

-         420,000 vocational full-time foreign missionaries

-         1.1 million home missionaries

-         26,100 new Christian book titles every year

-         12,000 major religious (Christian) libraries

-         53.7 million Bibles distributed each year

-         120.7 million New Testaments distributed each year

-         4.6 million scripture portions distributed each year

-         3 billion Christian books printed each year

-         5 billion Christian tracks printed each year

-         4,000 Christian radio/TV stations

-         120,000 full-time personnel in Christian broadcasting

-         3,000 evangelistic mass campaigns each year

-         332 million Christians own a computer

-         5,000 Great Commission computerized networks

-         845 current global plans for world evangelism

-         210 current global mega-plans for world evangelism

-         57 current global giga-plans for world evangelism

 Impressive, but dig deeper

Pretty impressive eh? But the reality is that the vast bulk of these resources benefit mostly the “Christian World”. Even when it comes to foreign missions… 85% of personnel and money is devoted to “Christian” lands such as North America, Brazil, Kenya, etc.

The present annual cost of mission to Christian lands is $163 billion compared to $250 million to send approximately 10,200 foreign missionaries to frontier fields (countries where less than 1-2% of the population self-identify as evangelical Christian).

We certainly need to continue supporting home missions or missions to “evangelized” fields. A strong home base is critical to completing the Great Commission, but we must remain vigilant and intentional about still giving a fair share to missions in those tougher un-evangelized fields. I imagine many of our church mission budgets may not represent this reality.

Fellowship International Missionaries

Currently, five amazing couples are looking for partners to enable them to go to those fields that are the least-evangelized (less than 1-2% evangelical).

I encourage you to learn more about:

  • Randy and Rachel Burwell (Central Asia) – contact Fellowship International for more info – 519-821-4830 Ext. 230
  • Robby and Gemelle Carlson (Japan) – contact Fellowship International for more info. – 519-821-4830 Ext. 230
  • Bechara and Roula Karkafi (Middle East) – www.fellowship.ca/Karkafi
  • Eric and Val Nielsen (Quebec) - www.fellowship.ca/Nielsen
  • Nadeem and Jamila Qazi (Pakistan) – www.fellowship.ca/Qazi
  • Wayne and Shirley van der Merwe (Cambodia) – contact Fellowship International for more info. – 519-821-4830 Ext. 230

Please consider praying and supporting these missionaries as they seek to reach those in the tough places. God bless you as you pray about this request.

Have a blessed week,

Steve