November has been a wonderful month, full of joy – even in the midst some difficult goodbyes. I have been encouraged this month in many ways, and I do not want to withhold any praise from God for these good times He has given. We praise and thank Him for the good and the bad; (it’s all really for good according to Romans 8:32) but we are more prone to take the good for granted. I don’t want to do that. I thank God for the kindness He has shown my family, the church, and me this month.
My family has been doing well. My wife and I have had the happiest month I think we’ve ever known together, and my son is growing and we’re beginning to, even in this early age, see many gracious things in him (though not without its share of unbridled depravity). His health is well. He had some trouble early on with an allergic reaction, but he hasn’t had another one since. However, far more important than his health, is that he is born again. I would rather he be sick every day of his life, but know God and live, than to be healthy all the time he has on earth and yet perish in his sin. The two cannot be compared. Please continue praying that God will save him.
I also mentioned back in September about a man named Terry who appeared to be waning, or at least struggling in a few ways. He grew up in and out of the Wesleyan church, and in between those times lived a more-than-prodigal lifestyle. It is grace alone, not only that his mind still functions, but that he is even still alive. But His guilt is great, and often he is accused by it. He firmly believed that first he had to become righteous before God could accept him, and that it was up to him entirely to maintain it. It has been liberating for him to realize that it is by grace alone that he is saved and kept by God, and that it is God’s grace that empowers him to live the Christian life (Colossians 1:29, 1 Corinthians 15:10)! I am glad to report that he is doing better. He has been faithful in attending our services and is excelling in good works.
This month we also were greatly blessed by another conversion. God, in a powerful display of His sovereignty, brought a young flight student named Paul into our fellowship. He heard the gospel many times, and though resistant at first, confessed Christ after searching the Scriptures. Due to some personal circumstances, he was forced to return to his home country. Two days before he had to leave, he was baptized in an indoor pool.
A few weeks is not a lot of time to disciple somebody, but I am confident in the genuine profession of his faith. He counted the cost, and Luke 14:26 was true for him. He forsook family, and even his own life, in order to follow Christ. With the help of the HeartCry staff in Virginia, we were able to connect him with some other HeartCry partners in his home country. Upon arrival, he moved to the city where they are located and remains there, miles away from his family, in order to be part of a good church. Please pray for Paul to continue in the faith and to find a job in his new location.
It was sad to see him go, and that sadness was only multiplied by the departure of another friend, Peter. Unlike Paul, who came for only six weeks, Peter returned after two years, having completed his course. In a traditional style, he invited almost the entire church out to a Chinese restaurant and treated us to a meal. He himself ate beforehand, in order to be a better host. I will remember that evening for a long time.
Peter is a very godly young man, also sacrificing much, and risking much more, to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Their example has been a great encouragement to Christ Community Church, and though we are saddened to see them leave, we are more than happy to have had them here. We know we will see them again, if not in this life then the next, and no longer will language, or culture, or anything else be a barrier, but we will be one in Christ more fully. I look forward to that day.
Another godly young man departed from our congregation this month. His brother, Rob Greenwood, had been praying diligently for him for many years, and after much labor, both in prayer and words, the Lord saved him. He became a believer about two years ago, and has been a great encouragement to our church ever since. He is eager for evangelism, and is a great help to whatever church he is a part of. He moved out west, to Alberta, for work. It’s not uncommon for people to do that. Over half of those I grew up with have moved away for work, from the economically depressed Maritimes to the lucrative western provinces. It goes without saying that it is not good for young people, unconcerned with godliness, to be entrusted with huge sums of money. For that reason, I was concerned for Kevin, especially seeing how the day he told me he was leaving, I was preparing to preach Matthew 6:19-24, and 1 Timothy 6. I shared my concern and we prayed.
I continued to pray for wisdom and clarity. God provided, and put my heart at ease for this brother. He found a church in his town, one that actually was familiar with the work we were doing in Fredericton, and, unbeknownst to us, has been sending support to HeartCry and diligently praying for us in the Maritimes. After this I was confident to bless him as he went!
If you could pray for one more thing for us, it is about a building. We intend to get together and fast and pray early in the new year, and one of our concerns is a building for our church to meet in. There is some land available that we could purchase, and we would be able to build on it. We have skilled tradesmen who would joyfully put their talents to work on it. There are many positives and negatives, so please pray for us, that God will give us wisdom in what direction we should go.
Thank you so much for your continued prayers and support. Many seeds that we have planted in the last two years are beginning to germinate, and I look forward to writing about it in the future, when, God willing, they come to fruition.