Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. I was reminded of this in many ways this past month. Our own understanding will lead to confusion and weakness, but when we trust in the Lord and plan our ways according to His Word and prayer, He really will make our paths straight.
April began with some difficulty. An attendee who had been coming for a few months decided to leave. The leadership of Christ Community Church reached out to this individual, and for a moment she came back. Then after a visit with some of her old friends, she was convinced, in spite of our efforts, to leave. Please pray for the Lord to work in her life.
It was difficult, but the Lord taught us through it. He reminded us of the importance of never neglecting to care for those He brings to us. We must ensure that when people do leave, our consciences are clear and we can confidently say that they were not neglected or overlooked in any way. We, as a church and especially in the leadership, must take special care of every person the Lord brings into our fellowship. And secondly, the Lord knows whom He will have at Christ Community Church, and though some may leave, they do not do so apart from His sovereignty. He has taken the burden of rejection off of our shoulders and placed it on His own. Please pray that we as a church, and especially myself as a pastor, would be more attentive and care more deeply for the people of Fredericton – both those who are perishing and especially those who belong to God.
April also saw our first celebration of Easter together. In 2016, we had a service for Easter, but in our infancy, most were away and only a small group came that morning. This year, however, we had services both on Sunday and Friday morning. After our Good Friday service, we had a potluck and spent the afternoon together.
When Sunday came, I knew many would be away traveling – much like last year – and was a little discouraged at the thought of so many being gone; but when I came into the sanctuary after praying before the service, the Lord had brought many visitors and many of our members had decided to stay and worship with their Church family rather than their earthly family. It was a wonderful time to preach and celebrate the Gospel-importance of the resurrection of Christ!
I’ve attached a picture of our church taken on Good Friday. You can see the building we are currently meeting in. It’s a small lodge we rent from the City of Fredericton.
It meets our needs, nevertheless we are slowly but surely outgrowing it’s seating capacity of seventy-five. Within a years’ time, I hope the Lord will have increased our regular meetings to be well over that number, and we will be looking for a new place to worship together. Personally, I had a difficult time seeking a building of our own when there was so much other work to be done. The difficulty was not that I did not think we should have one – my overseer here certainly believes we should, enough that I was sure it was the direction God was leading – but I struggled to get excited about it and could not overcome my occasional doubts. I prayed that the Lord would confirm to me that it was His will for us to buy land or purchase our own building; and after a few weeks of personal prayer, a dear seventy-eight-year-old brother, who had been an indigenous missionary in India, came up to me after a prayer meeting and handed me a check for one thousand dollars to put towards the very thing I’d been praying about! The Lord answered my prayer for confirmation as I considered the direction He would lead. I ask that you join us in praying that God would provide either land or a building for us to worship in.
There were two other events that occurred on the field this month – affecting me personally and the ministry in this region. One was discouraging, and I will spare the details because I believe they will be in another report; but a church plant in another town that had been struggling for a number of years had to close down. It is a hard thing to witness, though I know the Lord will use it for His glory.
The other, more positive event was an opportunity I had to speak at a youth retreat in Cape Breton, an Island in the neighboring province of Nova Scotia. My wife, Amy, and I had worked there directing a bible camp in 2014 and 2015 and it was a blessing to be back. I spoke four times, including the Sunday morning service, and the Lord encouraged me greatly in many ways. Even though my time to prepare was much less than I prefer, the Lord was faithful yet again. Whenever the requirements before me far outweighed my own resources, the Lord has given strength in my weakness for the glory of His name. I was reminded to trust in the Lord above my own ability.
I preached on 2 Samuel 6, Leviticus 10, Leviticus 16, and 2 Samuel 18 (all the common youth group passages) about the Transcendence and Holiness of God, how Christ made the way for us to draw near to Him, and then in 2 Sam 18, the Love that God has for Jesus His Son. The evening after I finished preaching Leviticus 16 on the Day of Atonement, God moved among the youth. After the preaching, twenty out of the sixty present stayed behind. Many were in tears, some were bewildered by the majesty of God, and others remained there on account of their own sorry condition. There were about six who made professions of faith in Christ. Many others were emboldened in their war against sin and encouraged by beholding something of the greatness of their God. Please pray with me that the fruit in all their lives will last.
I thank God for you and the prayers and the support you give. I want you to know that it is not a burden to write these reports; but it is a joy to share with you the work God is accomplishing and the prayers God is answering! Your giving, both financial and in prayer, is not unnoticed or unappreciated by us here in Fredericton.