President's Blog

“God Permits What He Hates to Accomplish What He Loves”

Joni Eareckson-Tada shared some helpful reflections on the fiftieth anniversary of her diving accident. Many have called it “Joni’s Ten Words”, and she writes:

“Back in the '70s, my Bible study friend Steve Estes shared ten little words that set the course for my life: ‘God permits what He hates to accomplish what He loves.’

Steve explained it this way: “Joni, God allows all sorts of things He doesn't approve of. God hated the torture, injustice, and treason that led to the crucifixion. Yet He permitted it so that the world's worst murder could become the world's only salvation.”

In the same way, God hates spinal cord injury, yet He permitted it for the sake of Christ in you—as well as in others.”

The Ministry of Presence

All followers of Christ are called to the “one anothers”.

  • Love one another (John 13:34-35)
  • Be kind to one another (Ephesians 4:29-32)
  • Carry the burdens of one another (Galatians 6:1-10)
  • Offer hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:7-11)
  • Serve one another (Galatians 5:13)
  • Accept one another (Romans 15:1-7)
  • Forgive one another (Colossians 3:13)

The very presence of Christ is seen and witnessed by people when God’s children actively live out the New Testament’s “one anothers”.

Fellowship Chaplains Living Out the “One Anothers”

Over 100 Fellowship chaplains are acting as the “hands and feet” of Jesus in our communities. Here are just three brief stories from chaplains Sharon Bowler, Carol Bell, and Larry Freeman:

“I am a chaplain attached to New Life Community Church in Grimsby, ON. I was welcomed into the role of church chaplain. I am on call for our church to serve both the church and beyond. I have a monthly ministry at Deer Park Villa in Grimsby, ON where residents from all faiths (and no faiths) and their caregivers attend, and a number of wonderful volunteers from our church have started coming out to serve the seniors there. Several of us designed and made a Dignity Quilt for the Home. This will be used to cover the bodies of deceased residents as they are taken from the facility during a brief service called a Dignity Walk. Pray that the quilt will touch and comfort many families in the years to come.”

— Sharon Bowler

New Life Community church and Deer Park Villa (Grimsby, ON)

 “I serve in a half-time position with my home church, Grandview Baptist, overseeing pastoral care. So much of my chaplaincy role blends into my role with the church family at the moment.

 Over the past two years I’ve had the opportunity to come alongside a family that is loosely connected with our church. There were critical mental health struggles with chronic depression and suicide ideation. Through a long span of time of offering ongoing visits, prayer and support, a relationship of trust and mutual respect developed. Several months ago, this family experienced the loss of a young adult child to suicide and I was invited to officiate the funeral.

Supporting the family through this time as they deal with this complex grief has become a great learning experience for me.  I have been stretched to seek out more information and education about grief support and lean on all that I have learned in the past from my CASC (Canadian Association for Spiritual Care) training. Above all, to be trusted as someone that can hear and help bear the deepest hurts and sorrows, has been most humbling and gratifying.  It also is a reminder of how critical the need is for healthy, self-care in the midst of supporting so many hurting people. We can only bear others' burdens when we have enough emotional strength in ourselves to do so.”

— Carol Bell

Chaplain Grandview Baptist Church (Kitchener, ON)

 For the last 15 years, Larry Freeman has served full-time as chaplain at the West Parry Sound Health Centre and Lakeland Long Term Care. He was asked to share his thoughts on how to help people in times of great loss. While each situation is different, Larry shares the following thoughts.

“You receive a call to help a family who has just lost a loved one. What do you do?  First, get as much information as you can. Name of deceased, name(s) of family members or others that are there, any information available about what happened. Then, introduce yourself to the family and explain why you are there (to provide support, help make calls, get drinks, view the body, wait with them until support system arrives).

  • Seek to build relationship – ask about their loved one (in the case of a spouse, how they met and how long they were married, etc.).
  • Don't presume they want something 'religious'. Ask if they are connected to a faith community. Ask what they would like you to do to help them.
  • Help them with next steps. Often they feel overwhelmed, especially if this was sudden and unexpected. The ONLY decision they need to make right now is what funeral home to use; the funeral home will help them with everything else (some funeral homes even offer assistance with government and insurance forms).
  • Don't be in a hurry to leave. Stay until they have gone. Check with staff that they are fine and ask if there is anything you can do to help.

Chaplains call it the 'ministry of presence', not 'ministry of prayer or preaching'. Because Christ is in us, our presence brings Christ in. We are there to provide care to them because God cares for them. Keep in mind the process – one sows, another waters, another reaps.”

Welcome to Larry as Our Newest Member of the Fellowship Team

On September 1, 2019 Larry started a part-time position as the Fellowship’s Chaplain Coordinator. He will serve our more than 100 Fellowship chaplains while recruiting and shepherding future chaplains. Please pray for Larry as he supports Steve Jones (Chaplain Director) and Richard Flemming (Chaplain Member-Care Coordinator) in the stewardship of a ministry that is seeking to be an extension of the local church in the places where people live and work.