Greetings in the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, from the work, He is accomplishing in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.
November marks a special milestone for Christ Community Church. It was five years ago, in the fall of 2015, the Church was officially planted. But what does it mean to “plant” a church? Was there all of a sudden a group of faithful people appeared out of nowhere, and then, under the compulsion of scripture, formed a local church? Well, we are compelled by scripture to plant local churches, but it never happens all of a sudden, as if by providential magic. No church is or will be planted without much prayer, trial, and hard work.
Now, I must confess, as far as church planters go, I have had it easier -substantially easier- than many other planters, and this is in no small part to Dave Storey. You may have read his reports in the past as he is a missionary with HeartCry here in New Brunswick as well. In a way, he is my (and the other planters in this region) hub leader. And the reason I attribute the actual planting of the church to him is simply that he planted the seeds that would become this local body.
While living in Fredericton, Pastor Dave had begun a church plant previously while working many hours a week teaching guitar lessons. The church plant never amounted to anything, but many of his guitar students heard the gospel and came to Christ, and got involved in other churches in the city. In 2006, Pastor Dave moved back to his home of Doaktown, led by the Lord to plant Miramichi Valley Church. Almost immediately, thanks to a various array of providentially designed circumstances, hard work in evangelism, and dedicated prayer, the endeavor was successful, and within a year the church had found its feet. After leaving a Wesleyan church with a decidedly liberal and heretical pastor, I joined MVC as an 18-year-old university student who loved the Lord and wanted to serve the church in whatever capacity I could, and for the next 4-5 years helped with various ministries at the church and built a strong and brotherly relationship with Dave.
Now around that time I graduated from University (Washington Bible College, Rest in Peace) and began working full-time in carpentry, when work was available and when it was not, volunteering and participating in other ministries, as well spending time advancing in the study of the Bible. Then, from 2012-2015, I worked in camp Ministry, Directing one bible camp through its maiden year, and then spending two more years co-directing another. It was during this time, truly, that what would become known as Christ Community Church was planted.
The Church in Doaktown firmly established, Dave turned his gaze back to Fredericton and the students who had been converted under his Guitar teaching Ministry (if you have ever met Dave, you would understand everything he does is ministry). He reached out to some of them, others he had maintained contact with, and the plans were put in motion, Lord Willing, to have a church plant. He began having monthly Sunday Evening bible studies in the city while looking for and praying that God would provide someone to lead the fledgling church.
In 2013, he asked me. Without hesitation, and full of confidence and conviction, I answered him “No.” I told him I had no interest, or ability, to pastor a church. Further, and remorse, I said “I cannot see myself ever pastoring a church, and you may want to look for someone else, but I promise that I will pray about it.” And I prayed about it. But my prayer wasn’t, “Lord, reveal what you would like me to do.” I didn’t have a clear conscience to ask for what he has not revealed in scripture. And I didn’t pray for an opportunity; God had already given that. My prayer was aimed at what I knew to be the problem: I did not love the church.
Oh, of course, I loved the brothers and sisters in Christ. I loved the people of God. I loved the Lord. But the Church? All of those people together? It’s one thing to love individual sheep, it is quite another to love all sheep. And I knew if I would ever be fit to pastor a Church, I didn’t need a green-light from God as much as I needed a change wrought in the heart. I needed to love the Church. And that was my prayer. “Lord, if you would have me to pastor these people, and if you would have me to lead this congregation, then I pray, Lord, give me a love for your Church. If you do, Lord, if you grant me an elevated love, a special love for your people, then I know you have called me to lead them, and I will go.”
I prayed this for two years, and by spring of 2015, I knew he had answered. The Lord had, by degrees, cultivated a love for the church in me. A love irrespective of the individual, but for the church as a whole, the church itself, and now that love was ripe. So I called Pastor Dave and asked him if the church still needed a pastor. “Yes.” “Well, I promised (the Bible Camp) I would go back this summer, and I must keep my word to them, but when I’m done there, I would happily become the pastor of this small group of believers.”
And that is exactly what the Lord ordained. Having worked 120 hours a week from May until August, I got home to Doaktown and mentioned to Dave that if it was alright, I would like a few weeks to recuperate from the toll the unyielding pace of Camp Ministry had taken on me. This was on a Tuesday. Dave agreed and then assigned me to preach that coming Sunday night. Forty hours later, I was ready.
What may surprise most readers is that our first course of action was to pare down the number of people meeting. We began with 24, but in no time we had halved that number. He asked me to preach specifically on doctrines like the Sovereignty and Wrath of God, against doctrines like the carnal Christian, and to be clear about what the Gospel was. And after doing this for a few weeks, and speaking with those meetings, it became clear that half of us were not on the same page, and had little desire to commit to the demands of being the founding members of a Church plant.
In November 2015, we began regular Sunday Morning Meetings at a small lodge we rented from the City of Fredericton, and since then, with the support and prayers of HeartCry, we have grown to a congregation of over 80 people. There have been at least a dozen saved from the kingdom of darkness and delivered to the kingdom of Light. There have been many sheep -loved by God yet abused and starving- that have been found and brought to good pasture. There is a place of worship to call our own while under construction, new elders –qualified and godly men- added to the leadership, a ministry that’s seen many young men from a closed countries come here lost and leaving Christian, one even becoming a pastor, and God’s Name is being made great here in the city of Fredericton. Thank you for your continued support and prayers. God bless.